31 May 2018

Following the FY19 Science Budget

Posted by Chris McEntee

With the federal spending bill process for FY19 well underway, AGU has been tracking how our federal science agencies are faring. The process has a long way to go yet, but with some preliminary numbers in for each of the science agencies, I wanted to let you know where things stand today.

Currently, the House Appropriations Committee has considered two FY19 appropriations bills that relate to science – The Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, which funds NOAA, NASA and NSF, and the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Energy.  Here are some of the top-line science numbers we have seen so far:

  • DOE, Office of Science: $6.6 billion; a 5% increase over the level funded in the FY18 omnibus appropriations bill
    • ARPA-E at DOE: $325 million; an 8% decrease from the FY 18 omnibus
  • NASA: $21.5 billion; a 4% increase over the FY18 omnibus
    • Office of Science: $6.7 billion, a 7% increase over the FY18 omnibus
    • Earth Science: $1.9 billion, a 1% decrease from the FY18 omnibus
    • Planetary Science: $2.8 billion, a 24% increase from the FY18 omnibus
  • NOAA: $5.2 billion; an 11% decrease from the FY18 omnibus
    • Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR): $503 million, a 9% decrease from the FY18 omnibus
    • Climate Research: $99 million, a 38% decrease from the FY18 omnibus
  • NSF: $8.2 billion; a 5% increase over FY18

Further, while the Committee has not yet finalized the bill, it has started working on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies bill, which funds the EPA and the US Geologic Survey.

  • EPA: $8 billion; a 1.3% decrease from the FY18 omnibus
  • USGS: $1.2 billion; a 4.5% increase over the FY18 omnibus

What do the current budget numbers mean?

The House Appropriations committee continues to show strong support for NASA’s Science Mission Division and recognize that a strong investment in NASA is needed to accomplish our goals in science and exploration. We are also happy to see language we requested recognizing the value of the latest Earth Science decadal survey but are concerned about the 1% cut in funding to Earth Science. As with NASA, the House bill demonstrates support for NSF by providing the agency an overall increase of 5% increase.  The bill also includes important language emphasizing the importance of Earth and space science research.

Similarly, House appropriators expressed support for the Office of Science at DOE and rejected the Administration’s proposal to eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), although their support was tempered by a nevertheless steep funding cut. The House also rejected the Administration’s plan to re-focus DOE on basic and early stage research.

Conversely, the House spending bills penalized NOAA significantly, cutting the agency by 11%, overall, a similar amount from the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and especially drastic cuts from the Climate Research Program. The bill also eliminates completely a coastal resiliency fund that helps communities withstand extreme weather and related impacts.

Because the EPA and USGS numbers are still preliminary, we’ll know more about what the figures mean for individual programs within the agencies in the days to come.

Looking Ahead

This is just one step in the appropriations process. The House must still finalize the Interior and Environment spending bill, and the Senate has only acted on its Energy and Water spending bill at this time.  We will continue to keep an eye on federal science funding levels and keep you posted about the details.

Meanwhile, this is a prime opportunity to let your members of Congress and Senators know how you are feeling about the preliminary science agency funding levels and why you like them or expect Congress to do better.  For a more detailed breakdown on the federal budget process, follow our Bridge blog.  To stay up-to-date and learn about how to contact your legislator, sign up for Science Policy Alerts.