The Department of Energy (DOE) is poised to receive a significant increase in funding for FY 2019, as both the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations rejected the administration’s proposed cut of $4 billion. The House Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 would increase DOE funding by $925 million for a total budget of $35.5 billion, while the Senate’s version of the bill would provide a slightly lower total for DOE at $35.0 billion.
On May 17, the House Appropriations Committee approved the chamber’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (H.R. 5952). The bill would provide $8.2 billion for NSF, which is $407.5 million more than the FY 2018 enacted amount; $5.2 billion for NOAA, a $750 million reduction from last year; $21.6 billion for NASA, an increase of $840 million; and $985 million for NIST, a decrease of $214 million.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt fielded an array of questions at back-to-back congressional hearings, which were originally intended to discuss the EPA’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request of $6.15 billion, a $1.9 billion or 24 percent reduction from FY 2018 enacted levels. The hearings were peppered with questions regarding ethics issues, policy concerns, and parochial projects.
Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), testified at two House committee hearings about NOAA’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request. In the testimony, he stated that NOAA’s FY 2019 budget request of about $4.6 billion – a decrease of $1.3 billion or 23 percent below the FY 2018 omnibus enacted level – prioritizes investment in the core missions at NOAA.
The White House and some Republican members of Congress are considering pursuing a rescission procedure to roll back some of the fiscal year (FY) 2018 funds that President Donald Trump reluctantly signed into law on March 23. The procedure provides an expedited process for the President to propose and Congress to pass a rescission resolution identifying appropriations that the administration does not want to spend. Regardless of whether the President officially initiates a rescission or Congress ultimately agrees to pass a rescission, some agency spending plans have already been delayed in anticipation.
The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing to review the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request and funding priorities for the National Science Foundation (NSF). Although the Administration initially proposed a $2.2 billion cut to NSF’s budget compared to FY 2017, an addendum released with the budget request provided flat funding for the agency at approximately $7.47 billion. While the FY 2019 budget request would sustain the same FY 2017 funding level for the agency overall, it proposes a different distribution of funds for programs within NSF.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke defended the President’s FY 2019 budget proposal for his department to members of Congress on relevant House and Senate committees. The President’s FY 2019 request for the Department of the Interior (DOI) includes a total of $11.7 billion in discretionary appropriations, which is a reduction of more than $1 billion from the current funding level. During the hearings, Secretary Zinke explained that while the Department will continue to emphasize energy development, its priorities this year revolve around "conservation, infrastructure and reorganization."
On March 7, the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Space held a hearing on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) budget for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The President’s FY 2019 request includes a total of $19.9 billion in funding for NASA, a 1.2 percent increase from the FY 2017 enacted funding level. The President’s request proposes shifting the agency’s existing resources to focus on deep space exploration activities, starting with another human mission to the Moon in 2023, with the intent of setting the stage for future human missions to Mars. It also proposes to eliminate the Office of Education in order to redirect its funding for deep space exploration.
Congress passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill on March 23 that will fund the federal government through September 2018. The 2,232-page bill, entitled the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, rejects the Administration’s proposed deep cuts to federal science agencies. Instead, many science agencies received increased funding, in part due to the increased budget authority for FY 2018 non-defense discretionary spending agreed to last month in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
President Trump released his $4.4 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2019 on February 12 prioritizing defense, border security, infrastructure, and the opioid crisis, while proposing significant cuts to many domestic programs, including science agencies. The President’s FY 2019 Budget was released along with a last-minute addendum outlining additional spending priorities that effectively rolled back some of the initially proposed cuts to a few science agencies, such as the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science and the National Science Foundation (NSF). However, even with the addendum additions, the President’s request for non-defense discretionary spending remained $57 billion below the caps agreed upon by Congress.