Congress Negotiating Fate of Science Funding

20 December 2013
AGU Science Policy Alert 13-49

Take action now! Your voice is vital to ensure federal science funding in the next year.  Right now, the members of Congress are deciding how to allocate federal dollars – and science is at stake.

Federal science spending has plummeted by 16% over the last three fiscal years (FY10-13), the largest decrease in decades. This past year alone, funding was cut by $9.6 billion, a 7% decrease over the previous year. We are now at the lowest level of science investment in more than a decade.

On Wednesday, 18 December, Congress approved a two-year budget bill to restore some of the sequester’s drastic across-the-board spending reductions. Details about what exactly will be funded must now be finalized by the congressional appropriations (or spending) committees – and scientific research hangs in the balance. The committees only have until 15 January 2014 to make their decisions, and if they don’t meet the deadline we face the threat of another partial government shutdown.

These congressional appropriators need to hear from scientists so they can understand the important role science plays in fueling American prosperity.  They are already being pressured by many other stakeholders to direct funds to non-science programs.

AGU urges its members to take action now. Today through early January is a critical time for the members on both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to hear from you.  Contact your members of Congress to ask them to restore science research funding in FY14 spending bills.

Note: Federal government employees have some restrictions on meeting with members of Congress to discuss funding levels. Learn more.


  • Investing in scientific research creates jobs, supports the economy, and protects lives. Research is an investment in our future, and a lack of restored funding today will only deprive the innovators of tomorrow of the tools and knowledge they will need to keep the U.S. competitive in the global economy.
  •  Sequestration went into effect in March 2013, negatively impacting the scientific community. It has stalled contracts with government agencies, shut down or delayed research, monitoring, and forecasting, affected grant availability, and jeopardized jobs within and outside the federal government.
  • Many Earth and space science programs hang in the balance, including climate change research, monitoring and addressing natural hazards and disasters, planetary research efforts—including the MARS project—and science education, among numerous others.
  • These across-the-board cuts are indiscriminate and they are already having an impact on the essential missions of science agencies such as NSF, NOAA, NASA, and the USGS. Restoring our commitment to innovation and economic competitiveness is the only way these agencies can reverse the damage to scientific research.