FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

House Republicans Propose New FY 2011 S&T Budgets

Richard M. Jones
Number 13 - February 10, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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"Make no mistake, these cuts are not low-hanging fruit.  These cuts are real and will impact every District across the country. . . . "-- House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY)

Next week the House of Representatives may vote on a funding bill that would make significant changes in some S&T agency budgets.  Under an initial version of this bill:

  • The budget for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science would be reduced by 18.0 percent or $882.3 million from the current level.

  • Funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology would be cut by 14.4 percent or $123.7 million. 

  • NASA’s budget would remain essentially level, declining 0.6 percent or $103 million.

  • The budget for the U.S. Geological Survey would also remain level, declining 0.5 percent or $5.3 million.

  • The National Science Foundation’s budget would increase 6.0 percent or $412.9 million.

These changes were in a list of seventy proposed budget recommendations released yesterday by the House Appropriations Committee that were projected to total $74 billion.  Additional budget cuts will be made in the bill before it goes to the full House.  Chairman Rogers just announced that these cuts will total $100 billion from what President Obama requested.  That forthcoming bill – a continuing resolution or CR - would provide funding after an existing short-term bill expires on March 4. 

When discussing the initial version of the bill Rogers stated:

“Never before has Congress undertaken a task of this magnitude.  The cuts in this CR will represent the largest reduction in discretionary spending in the history of our nation.
“While making these cuts is hard, we have a unique opportunity to right our fiscal ship and begin to reduce our massive deficits and debt.  We have taken a wire brush to the discretionary budget and scoured every program to find real savings that are responsible and justifiable to the American people. 
“Make no mistake, these cuts are not low-hanging fruit.  These cuts are real and will impact every District across the country - including my own.  As I have often said, every dollar we cut has a constituency, an industry, an association, and individual citizens who will disagree with us. But with this CR, we will respond to the millions of Americans who have called on this Congress to rein in spending to help our economy grow and our businesses create jobs.”

Proposed cuts of this magnitude were not unexpected.  In January, the House passed a resolution that called for FY2011 non-security discretionary spending to be reduced to FY 2008 levels or less.   This was followed by an announcement by Chairman Rogers of reductions in spending limits for each of his subcommittees, as follows:

  • The Commerce, Justice Science Subcommittee had its allocation reduced by 16 percent as compared to the FY 2010 level.  This subcommittee provides funding for the National Science Foundation, NIST, and NASA.
  • The Energy and Water Development Subcommittee’s allocation was reduced by 10 percent.  This subcommittee provides funding for the Department of Energy.
  • The Interior, Environment Subcommittee’s allocation was reduced by 8 percent.

The bill will encounter stiff opposition in the Senate and from the White House.  No one knows how, and when, the FY 2011 appropriations cycle will be completed.

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics