FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

FY 2012 NASA/NIST/NSF Funding Bill Nearing Completion; Senate Debates Energy Bill

Richard M. Jones
Number 135 - November 14, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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NASA, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation:

If all goes as scheduled, later today the final version of the FY 2012 appropriations bill funding NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Science Foundation bill will be released.  This $127.8 billion “minibus” bill, which also funds the Departments of Agriculture; Commerce; Housing and Urban Development; Justice; Transportation; and a number of federal agencies, was written by a conference of House and Senate appropriators.

No details have been released about this conference report, which will also continue the current level of funding for all other federal departments and agencies through mid-December.  Passage of this bill by the end of this week is almost certain because without it many federal operations would close after current short term funding expires this Friday.

Department of Energy:

Last Thursday, the Senate started work on the second minibus which will fund the Department of Energy in FY 2012.  This legislation will likely combine the Energy and Water Development, Financial Services, and State-Foreign Operations appropriations bills.  Following a brief announcement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate voted to limit debate on the measure by a vote of 81 yes to 14 no votes, setting up its possible passage in the Senate by the Thanksgiving recess.  The House passed its version of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill in mid-July.

The Senate is scheduled to begin its consideration of this bill later today.  If the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill is combined with the other funding measures it will be subject to possible amendments on issues such as Yucca Mountain, health care, abortion, and Iran’s nuclear program. 

Last week the Office of Management and Budget released a Statement of Administration Policy on the FY 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.  Regarding the Department of Energy, the statement commented:

Clean Energy Research and Development (R&D). The Administration strongly urges the Senate to provide $1.95 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs and at least $300 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, both of which are critical to implementing the Administration's goals of transforming the Nation's economy to support clean energy jobs and improving U.S. energy security. These investments will help improve U.S. competitiveness in advanced manufacturing and in emerging technologies such as electric vehicles and batteries, biofuels, energy efficient systems for buildings, solar energy, and offshore wind power.”

Innovation and R&D. The Administration strongly urges the Senate to provide $4.95 billion for the Office of Science to maintain its critical investment in America's innovation future. Inadequate funding places fundamental research at risk in areas of science that underpin clean energy technologies and can spur innovation. Inadequate funding levels will not allow optimum utilization of DOE research assets, hampering the development of the next generation of technologies and manufacturing for use in the automobile, semiconductor, pharmaceutical, and numerous other industries.”

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Weapons Activities and Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. The Administration urges the Senate to support robust funding for NNSA to continue the commitment to modernize the nuclear weapons complex and upgrade the stockpile set forth in the Nuclear Posture Review and reaffirmed as part of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ratification process. In addition, at a time when a grave danger is posed by the proliferation of nuclear materials that can fall into the hands of terrorist organizations, the Administration appreciates Senate support for highly enriched uranium (HEU) reactor conversions and increased security for HEU and plutonium as high-priority elements of the global effort to lock down nuclear materials.”

Previous issues of FYI have reviewed the Senate Appropriations Committee report for the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics