The final appropriations agreement for fiscal year 2017 cuts the budget of the National Institute of Standards and Technology by 1 percent, attributable to a $10 million rollback in the agency’s construction budget. The rest of the NIST budget remains essentially the same as before.
President Trump has asked Congress to impose an $18 billion cut in non-defense spending in its appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2017. According to a leaked document, the White House has suggested that about $3 billion be taken from R&D programs. Several key congressional appropriators have said it is too late in the fiscal year to consider such large cuts.
The chairman’s plans include reforming the use of science in EPA rulemaking, prioritizing basic research at the Department of Energy, promoting STEM education, overseeing cybersecurity investigations, and adjusting NASA’s mission portfolio.
Among his final actions in office over the past month, President Obama signed three major research-related bills into law: the 21st Century Cures Act, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, and the National Defense Authorization Act.
In what one senator called an “overtime victory for science in the closing days of 2016,” the House passed the Senate’s “American Innovation and Competitiveness Act,” a bipartisan successor to the America COMPETES Acts of 2007 and 2010. President Obama is expected to sign it into law.
Last week the House passed two bills which would establish new basic energy research initiatives at the Department of Energy, as well as a bill which would update policies for certain NIST programs and direct a comprehensive National Academies review of NIST laboratories.
Today, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the "American Innovation and Competitiveness Act" after amending it to authorize a four percent funding increase for NSF and NIST. However, a push to identify offsets for these increases may delay or derail passage of the bill by the Senate.
The Senate’s bipartisan bill, released today, differs significantly from the House-passed America COMPETES bill, dropping the COMPETES name altogether and striking a different tone on scientific merit review.
Following the president’s request for a 5.2 percent funding increase for the National Institute of Standards and Technology in fiscal year 2017, the House and Senate proposals are a field apart. The House is proposing a 10.3 percent overall cut but would spare laboratory research, while the Senate would provide a slight 1.0 percent increase.
About one month after the Senate Appropriations Committee reported legislation with middling spending for four of the main science agencies in fiscal year 2017, the House Appropriations Committee earlier this week cleared its bill and committee report. Like in the Senate, the House committee includes no significant spending increases for the four agencies’ research accounts.