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FYI Number 100: August 30, 2002

FY 2003 Appropriations Bills: Status, Outlook

When Congress returns to work next week it will be less than a month to the start of the new fiscal year. While the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed all thirteen appropriations bills, many of these bills have not yet been drafted in the House. The action Congress takes in the next few weeks will determine how much federal funding will be available for research for the year starting October 1.

Every year is difficult for House and Senate appropriators. This budget cycle will probably be more arduous than many: spending for the war on terrorism is high, the scope and duration of the conflict are unknown, the economy has slowed, government spending is in the red, and an important election is in about ten weeks.

Relations between key Republican and Democratic appropriators, and the Office of Management and Budget, are strained. A dress rehearsal for the FY 2003 budget cycle was the recent passage of a bill providing additional funding for the current year. The negotiations over this bill were painful, marked by ill-will on both sides.

An overarching goal for the Bush Administration and fiscally- conservative Republicans in the House is keeping the total cost of the thirteen appropriations bills at or below the level requested by the President. The Senate was not able to do so. Conservative House Republicans are insisting on the President's number, which many observers predict will be inadequate. The impasse over spending levels is evident by the failure of the House and Senate to agree on an overall spending limit, which has only happened only twice since 1974.

Here is the status and outlook on the appropriations bills followed by FYI:

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: The Senate Appropriations Committee completed work on the Energy and Water Development bill. The House appropriations subcommittee finished its version. Funding for the High Energy and Nuclear Physics programs would increase in both bills, although by small amounts in some cases. The budgets for the Biological and Environmental Research, Basic Energy Sciences and Fusion Energy Sciences programs are at greater variance in the two bills. See FYI #90 for additional information.

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION: The Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides an 11.8% increase for NSF. The House appropriations subcommittee is expected to draft its bill in about two weeks. House appropriators will have their hands full due to this bill's size and complexity, with subcommittee chairman James Walsh (R-NY) publically expressing worries about the amount of money he has to work with. See FYI #89.

NASA: Chairman Walsh also funds NASA in his bill. He reportedly wants to hold funding steady for this agency, a strategy that will be resisted by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX). The Senate Appropriations Committee bill includes an increase of 2.0% for the agency, with the Science, Aeronautics and Technology budget slated for a 12.4% increase. See FYI #91 for details on the Senate bill.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT: Both the House and Senate have voted on their versions of this bill. Total spending for defense S&T programs would increase 9.2% in the Senate bill, and 14.8% in the House bill. See FYI #85 for the numbers.

NIST: The Senate Appropriations Committee has acted; the House has not. The Senate bill provides a 0.8% overall increase, with a larger increase of 4.8% for Scientific and Technical Research and Services. There is likely to be a conflict between funding for the Advanced Technology Program in the two versions of the bill, with the Senate figure prevailing. See FYI #92.

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: The House has voted on its bill. Senate appropriators will be sending their bill to the floor shortly. Both bills rejected attempts by the Bush Administration to reduce USGS spending, increasing its budget by around 1.4%. See FYIs #80 and #83.

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: Senate appropriators provided a 100% increase for the Mathematics and Science Partnership program in the Department of Education budget for total funding of $25 million, still far below the authorized level. Expect a major battle over the Labor, HHS, and Education bill in the House when it returns. See FYI #94.

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BIOLOGICAL IMAGING AND BIOENGINEERING: Also in the Labor, HHS, and Education bill is funding for the NIBIB. Only the Senate Appropriations Committee has acted, including an increase of 18.8% in its bill for this new institute. See FYI #88.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3095

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