FY2017 – That’s A Wrap! (5 May 2017)
After three continuing resolutions, Congress has finally passed an omnibus, securing funding through 30 September 2017. Despite concerns that the President’s Budget Blueprint, which proposed drastic cuts to federal science agencies, would set the tone for the spending negotiations, Earth and space science fared well in the FY2017 Omnibus. Here is the run down:
National Aeronautic and Space Administration – $19.65 billion or 1.9% increase over FY2016 funding levels
NASA received an almost 2% increase in funding for FY2017 at $19.65 billion, and the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) saw a 3% increase in funding at $5.76 billion. In fact, funding levels for the SMD are higher than President Obama’s FY2017 request; the Senate and House Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bills; and the levels included in the recently passed NASA Transition Authorization Act. Additionally, the bill contradicts President Trump’s March request for a 0.9% cut to SMD.
Notable Provisions: Within the SMD, Planetary Science received a very impressive 12% funding increase to support missions such as Europa and Mars. Heliophysics also received a substantial increase of 4.4%. Additionally, Earth Science funding remains flat, with the proposed 12% House cuts not making it into the final bill. President Trump’s proposal to cancel the PACE satellite is also not reflected in the FY17 omnibus. The bill specifies $90 million for the satellite, which studies harmful algal blooms.
In Astrophysics, the James Webb Space Telescope received a planned decrease in funding of about $50 million because it has now entered pre-launch testing.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – $5.68 billion or 1.58% decrease over FY2016 funding levels
NOAA saw a 1.58% cut in funding for FY2017. The agency is now funded at $5.68 billion, down from $5.77 billion in FY2016. While any funding cut is not a desirable outcome, Congress decided to keep NOAA funding relatively flat in comparison to proposals from the Administration.
Notable Provision: Despite topline budget cuts, NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research saw a substantial increase in funding ($32 million dollars or 6.67%). This is encouraging especially for Climate Research, where funding was restored to the FY2016 level of $158 million, despite a 20% cut proposed by the FY2016 House CJS bill.
In the FY2017 omnibus, NOAA satellites saw the largest cut, -6.26%, with the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (-1.96%) and the National Weather Service (-0.23%) making up the other cuts. Within NESDIS, the Polar Follow On (PFO) is the only satellite program that will be cut substantially in FY2017. The omnibus appropriations bill fully funds JPSS and GOES-R, but cuts funding for PFO by $64 million, providing $328.9 million instead of the $393 million requested. By contrast, funding for a follow-on space weather satellite is doubled compared to the request of $2.5 million.
National Science Foundation – $7.47 billion or 0.1% increase over FY2016 funding levels
The National Science Foundation (NSF) received relatively flat funding overall. The agency’s Research & Related Activities (R&RA) account, which funds the six research directorates, would remain equal to FY2016 levels. NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate, which funds a wide array of STEM education programs, would also see flat funding.
Notable Provision: The omnibus does include a plus-up for NSF research facilities as requested by the Senate to begin planning and construction of a third Regional Class Research Vessel (RCRV), rather than the two RCRVs included in the FY2017 request. Three RCRVs would allow for a RCRV for each coast of the US, including the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts as opposed to only for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
US Geological Survey – $1.09 billion or 2.18% increase over FY2016 funding levels
In FY2017, USGS saw a 2.18% increase in funding and was appropriated $1.09 billion, up from $1.06 billion in FY2016. Natural Hazards, Core Science Systems and Climate and Land Use Change all saw significant increases, with the rest of USGS seeing fairly flat funding.
Notable Provision: The largest funding bump for USGS went to Climate and Land Use Change, with an increase of $9.30 million, or 6.64%. This funding supports the Senate directive for Arctic research, and the Land Remote Sensing program. The Survey is directed to apply carryover balances from the satellite operations account so that Landsat-9 is fully funded.
USGS did see a small cut to Energy, Minerals and Environmental Health, which was funded at 0.21% less than FY2016.
Department of Energy – $30.79 billion overall or 3.6% increase over FY2016 funding levels
The omnibus appropriates nearly a 4% increase in overall DOE funding, which includes $5.39 billion for DOE Office of Science (a 0.8% increase over FY2016), $612 million of which will fund the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Program that supports research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE’s work related energy, environment, and basic research. The Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) received $306 million or a 5.2% increase over FY2016 funding levels, on par with proposed levels by House CJS, but lower than the $325 million proposal by the Senate.
Notable Provision: President Trump’s FY2018 budget proposed the elimination of ARPA-E. However, the funding levels in the FY2017 omnibus indicate that ARPA-E is still a priority for members of Congress. Unfortunately, the Administration has issued an order preventing ARPA-E from distributing appropriated funds for FY2016 and earlier, which may violate current law. It is unclear how this affects FY2017 funding.
8 September 2016
Congress returned to session on 6 September with the task of funding the government for fiscal year 2017 (FY17), and only 17 legislative days until the October recess to pass all 12 spending bills in order to prevent a government shutdown.
For the first time in years, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed all 12 spending bills— however, only a handful of these have passed the full House or Senate. Congress will likely pass a short term continuing resolution (CR) to keep current funding levels going until after the election.
Congress may also pass a long term CR, which would lock in FY16 funding levels for all of FY17. Agencies would be unable to award new grants, start new missions, or hire new employees. For more information, see AGU’s letter to House and Senate Appropriators.
For in-depth coverage on this year’s funding for our nation’s science agencies, check out our four-part series: Funding Season is Open on The Bridge.
17 June 2016
On Wednesday, 15 June, the full House Appropriations Committee considered the Interior and Environment spending bill. This bill includes funding for USGS, the EPA, and other environmental agencies. USGS received about a 2% increase in funding, while the EPA funding was cut by nearly 2%.
On the following day, Thursday, 16 June, the full Senate Appropriations Committee considered its version of the bill. USGS received a small increase of 0.61% in the bill, while the EPA received a 0.38% cut.
For more information about the House and Senate I&E appropriations bills, visit our The Bridge blog, Funding Season is Open: Part 4.
5 May 2016:
On 14 April, the Senate Appropriations Committee finished work on the Energy and Water spending bill, which includes funding for the Department of Energy (DOE), including the Office of Science. Shortly after, the companion House Subcommittee followed suit and passed its own version.
The following week, on 21 April, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) spending bill – the bill that funds NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), among other agencies. The House has yet to act on the CJS bill.
Both chambers have vowed to pass all 12 appropriations bills by July 15, in time for Representatives and Senators to attend the national conventions. For more in-depth analysis, check out The Bridge.
11 February 2016:
On 9 February 2016, the President introduced his final budget request outlining his spending priorities for fiscal year 2017 (FY17). On its face the President’s budget would increase funding for all federal science agencies; however, the budget relies on mandatory funding to increase federal funding for science. This budget maneuver would require Congress to also adopt the tax increases and other cost-savings measures the President proposes in order to fund the mandatory research and development spending. As part of the FY16 appropriations negotiations, Congress set spending caps for FY17 discretionary spending. Due to these agreed-upon caps, and the difficulties of agreeing on budget issues that have plagued Congress of late, it is highly unlikely that Congress will attempt to increase mandatory spending, leaving the budget increases included as mandatory spending in the President’s budget essentially moot.
Read the 11 February AGU Science Policy Alert for details about the President’s FY17 budget request.