Within the next few days the Senate will vote on the final
version of the FY 2002 Interior Department Appropriations Bill
that contains funding for the U.S. Geological Survey. H.R
2217 will then be sent to President Bush for his signature.
The House passed this bill by an overwhelming majority last
week. There is relatively good news to report about the USGS
portion of the bill. Despite the Administration's request
that the Survey's budget be cut by more than $69 million, the
final bill increases the budget by $31 million.
Appropriators on both sides of the Capitol indicated their disagreement
with the budget request at hearings earlier this year. Key senators
expressed concerns to Interior Secretary Gale Norton about the proposed
7.9% cut to USGS, with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert
Byrd (D-WV) questioning the "serious" impact the proposed
reduction would have on USGS programs. House appropriators were also
critical of the request; a senior Republican urged Norton to "rethink"
the budget (see FYI
#57). Committee report language issued this summer voiced support
for the Survey, and both House and Senate versions of the bill increased
proposed funding (see FYI
A table of fine print in the back of the Interior conference
report (House Report 107-234) details the increases for
various programs, as follows:
Total, USGS: Up 3.5%, or $31.2 million, from $882.8 million to
National Mapping Program: Up 2.2%, or $2.9 million, from
$130.4 million to $133.3 million.
Geologic Hazards, Resource & Processes: Up 3.3%, or $7.5
million, from $225.3 million to $232.8 million.
Water Resources Investigation: Up 1.1%, or $2.3 million, from
$203.5 million to $205.8 million.
Biological Research: Up 3.6%, or $5.8 million, from $160.6
million to $166.4 million.
Science Support: Up 17.0%, or $12.5 million, from $73.7
million to $86.3 million.
Facilities: Up 0.2%, or $206,000, from $89.2 million to $89.4
Conference report language specified spending for selected national
mapping, geology, and water resources programs. The appropriators also
specify that the National Academy of Sciences be contracted to "examine
water resources research funded by all Federal agencies and by significant
non-Federal organizations. . . . it appears that water resources research
is not well coordinated." The appropriators "would
like an answer to the question of whether the Nation is making an adequate
level of investment in water resources research."
Congress hopes to conclude work on the remaining
appropriations bill within the next two weeks.
Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics