House Appropriations Committee approves NSF, NOAA, NASA, NIST, and OSTP funding

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May 17, 2018

On May 17, the House Committee on Appropriations approved the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations bill. Sponsored by Chairman of the CJS Appropriations Subcommittee John Culberson (R-TX-7), the Science Appropriations Act of 2019 (H.R. 5952; H. Rept. 115-704) outlines funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

The committee-approved bill provides $8.2 billion for NSF, which is $407.5 million more than the amount provided in FY 2018. This includes $6.65 billion to support Research and Related Activities, which encompasses research activities of the Geoscience Directorate (GEO). In the report language accompanying the bill, the committee directed NSF to support the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science program, enhance its new program with NOAA’s Office of Exploration and Research, and accept new proposals from the academic research community for research supported by marine research facilities. The Committee approved $268 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction, including support for telescope infrastructure, and $127 million for construction of three Regional Class Research Vessels. The Education and Human Resources account would remain flat at $902 million. The committee urged NSF to focus Discovery Research PreK-12 grants on early childhood and to broaden the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM education programs. The committee also directed NSF to prioritize research that addresses broader impacts criteria, and to apply a broader impacts review criterion to identify projects that would particularly support their goals of improving the nation’s economic competitiveness, health, and defense; enhancing academic-industry partnerships; developing a competitive STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workforce; and advancing public scientific literacy and engagement.

The House FY 2019 appropriations bill would reduce funding for NOAA by $750 million with a total budget of $5.16 billion. Responding to the bill’s 38 percent reduction to NOAA’s climate research programs, Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-17) introduced an amendment during the markup that would restore some of the climate funding back to NOAA, but withdrew the amendment before a vote. The bill includes $558 million for the National Ocean Service (NOS), which would increase spending for Disaster Preparedness programs, maintain funding for the Integrated Water Prediction program, and prioritize survey capabilities. It provides $503 million for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), and appropriates the President’s requested amount of $1.66 billion for the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). The committee rejected the administration’s proposal to decrease staff at the National Weather Service (NWS) and the proposed elimination of NOAA’s Office of Education, instead providing an increase of $500,000 for the office.

The committee approved an increase of $840 million for NASA with overall funding at $21.6 billion. While the bill would increase funding for NASA Science by $460 million, the Earth Science sub-account would receive a cut of $21 million. The committee directed NASA to follow recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences Earth Science and Applications from Space Decadal Survey report and to explore commercial partners to support NASA’s future land imaging requirements. A manager’s amendment to the bill was approved at the committee markup that would direct $10 million to be used for the Climate Monitoring Program. The bill would decrease NASA Education funding by $10 million compared to FY 2018, providing a total of $90 million. The bill funds NIST at $985 million, a decrease of $214 million from FY 2018 levels, but slightly increased compared to previous fiscal years. The National Space Council and OSTP would receive flat funding as requested by the administration.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations is expected to consider a CJS FY 2019 appropriations bill in mid-June. On May 24, the Senate Committee on Appropriations released its FY 2019 302(b) allocations, which sets the top-level funding amount to be provided for each of the twelve appropriations bills, approving $63 billion for CJS – a slight increase compared to the current Senate CJS allocation of $59.6 billion and the House bill overall amount of $62.5 billion.

Sources: Library of Congress; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Institute of Standards and Technology; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; National Science Foundation; U.S. House, Committee on Appropriations; U.S. Senate, Committee on Appropriations; White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy.