Appropriators in the House and Senate are moving quickly in their review of the Obama Administration’s FY 2016 budget request. Simultaneous hearings are being held on many department and agency requests as the appropriators look toward the drafting of their funding legislation. They have a difficult job this year in finding money for the budget increases because overall funding is being kept essentially flat.
“The reputation of the NSF is the greatest in the world,” House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) said Tuesday during a hearing on the foundation’s FY 2016 budget request. Culberson’s passion for science was clearly evident at this and other hearings, and as the point person for the writing of the funding bill for NSF, his statements during this hearing were very encouraging.
In addition to a letter circulating among House Members regarding the FY 2016 appropriation for the DOE Office of Science, a similar letter has just been distributed by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and David McKinley (R-WV) in support of the National Science Foundation.
A 14-minute exchange between National Science Foundation Director France Cordova, National Science Board Chairman Dan Arvizu, the Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and a subcommittee Ranking Member indicates that the lengthy impasse between key members of the committee and the foundation regarding its grant making policies and procedures apparently has been broken.
The Administration’s FY 2016 request for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is based on recommendations from several reports from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in addition to the 2013 Federal STEM Education Five Year Strategic Plan.
Congress is nearing completion of the FY 2015 appropriations cycle. The House and Senate are scheduled to complete action on a $1.1trillion bill providing funding through September 30, 2015 for all departments and agencies with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security that will be funded through early 2015.
The Coalition for National Science Funding and the Coalition for National Security Research have issued separate letters to Members of Congress urging the passage of funding legislation providing the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense’s basic research program with budget increases in FY 2015. It is uncertain if Members will be given an opportunity to vote on an omnibus appropriations bill with these increases before short term funding expires on December 11.
As reported in FYI FYI#130, Rep. Vern Ehlers' (R-MI) National Science Education Act (H.R. 4271) was brought to the House floor but not passed last week. The bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support, had passed the Science Committee unanimously in July, and was supported by many organizations including the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Astronomical Society, and the American Physical Society. However, in recent days a number of Members had raised concerns about the constitutionality of one provision.