Almost every appropriations hearing begins with the chairman explaining
that the subcommittee's ability to produce a bill that will win support
on the floor depends on their 302(b) allocation, or the budget that
they will have to work with. A good allocation is key to ensuring that
program needs can be met.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have largely determined
the allocations. "These numbers represent our best effort to distribute
fairly the funding provided to us in the Budget Resolution. With the
exception of additional allowances that may be requested for education
and defense, it is my intention to report spending bills that adhere
to the spending limits proposed by President Bush and ratified by the
Congress," said House Appropriations Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-FL).
Senate appropriators have released tentative allocations that they will
finalize next week. Here are the numbers the subcommittees have to work
with for the overall bills:
The Department of Energy's Office of Science and the National Nuclear
Security Administration are funded by the Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Bill. The Army Corps of Engineers is also funded under
this bill. The tentative Senate allocation would provide a total increase
of 6.4% over the current year. The House allocation provides essentially
flat funding. Both numbers are higher than the comparable Bush Administration
request, which would have reduced funding.
The National Science Foundation and NASA are funded by the VA, HUD,
and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill, as are a wide variety
of other programs. The tentative Senate allocation would provide an
overall increase of 4.8% over this year, the House a 4.5% increase.
Both allocations are higher than the increase requested by the administration.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is funded through
the Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations Bill. The Senate number is
the most favorable, with a tentative increase of 3.2%, while the House
allocation for the entire bill is up 2.4% over the current year. Both
allocations are higher than the requested increase.
The Defense Department allocation will change when the Bush Administration
finalizes its national defense strategy. At present, the Senate allocation
is 3.9% above the current year, although below the administration request.
The House allocation of 4.5% is closer to the administration request.
These figures are working numbers that will guide the appropriators
as they draft their bills. Changes have usually occurred as final bills
are written. The Bush Administration wants Congress to keep the overall
level of discretionary spending at the current level plus 4% plus additional
defense and perhaps education funding. Depending upon whose projections
you believe, Congress may, or may not, have to exceed this limit. Despite
attempts to control what Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell
Daniels calls "a pirates' riot of evasions and gimmickry," earmarking
and designations of "emergency" spending in another bill this week suggest
that these temptations will be difficult to resist. Others contend that
the 4% limit is artificially low and shortchanges domestic priorities
such as science and technology. Meeting these competing needs will take
many months of negotiations between a new administration and a divided
Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics