Appropriations Bills and Legislation Watch

25 July 2013
AGU Science Policy Alert 13–38

Summer is in full swing and the heat in D.C. is rising when it comes to disagreement on federal spending. Before August recess, committees in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have been marking-up and voting on appropriations bills for the 2014 fiscal year (FY14) for many federal budgets. To date, the House has taken on appropriations for Commerce, Justice, and Science (which includes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Energy and Water (which includes the Department of Energy), and Interior and Environment (which includes the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency) spending bills. Senate committees have voted on appropriations for Commerce, Justice, and Science and Energy and Water. The two tables below reflect the funding levels for select government agencies as appropriated in committee from each chamber.

Agency FY12 Enacted FY13 Estimate FY14 House Committee Change from FY12
USGS 1,068 1,012 967 -101 (-9.5%)
EPA 9,218 8,344 5,500 -3,718 (-40%)

Table 1. Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations in millions of dollars, rounded to nearest million, House bill only represented.

Agency FY12 Enacted FY13 Estimate FY14 House Committee FY14 Senate Committee House Change from FY12 Senate Change from FY12
NSF 7,105 7,240 6,995 7,426 -110 (-1.5%) +321 (+4.5%)
NASA 17,771 17,507 16,598 18,010 -1173 (-6.6%) +239 (+1.3%)
NOAA 4,907 5,320 4,921 5,445 +14 (+0.3%) +538 (+11%)
DOE-Science 4,873 4,866 4,653 5,513 -184 (-3.8%) +640 (+13.1%)

Table 2. Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations and Energy and Water Development appropriations in millions of dollars, rounded to the nearest million, House and Senate bills represented.

Congress still has a ways to go to reach agreement on federal spending. FY14 will begin on 1 October and both chambers will have to reconcile their differences before that time, or we face another continuing resolution. Based upon the current discussions on Capitol Hill and the large gaps between the two chambers in how they propose to fund the government, the likelihood that a compromise on appropriations will be reached does not look promising. The budget the House is operating under factors in sequestration cuts for FY14, in addition to lower allocations, whereas both the Senate and President’s budgets do not include sequestration cuts.

However, there is still time to inform your legislators about the importance of federal investments in science agencies and programs: make a district visit during the August recess. To learn more, check out AGU’s latest webinar, which gives a “how-to” on scheduling a district visit and provides more details about the current federal budget.

Additional Legislation of Interest

NASA Authorization Act 2013

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Space approved a bill to reauthorize NASA for two more years. This bill caps NASA’s budget at $16.87 billion for fiscal year FY14 and FY15. This is 5% below the FY12 enacted levels and 4.7% below the President’s request for FY14. The authorization bill factors in the reductions put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Bill Information

National Ocean Policy

An amendment was approved in the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bills that includes a provision prohibiting funding for the President’s National Ocean Policy, and requires a report on previous funding for the policy. Language on Page 131

America COMPETES Act 2013

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has yet to take up or draft a reauthorization for the America COMPETES Act, which is set to expire at the end of this calendar year. The Act was first signed into law in 2007, expiring every three years, and it established funding targets aimed at doubling funding for key federal science agencies and improving STEM education. 2010 Bill Information