Most Recent Action    President's Request    Appropriations Process 

Update on FY2001 Commerce, Judiciary & State Appropriations (12-21-00)

**For most recent update see the AGI website for the 107th Congress**

The fiscal year (FY) 2001 Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies (Commerce) Appropriations bill, H.R. 4690, provides federal funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS).  President Clinton requested a total of $37.6 billion for this bill.  Congress, after agreeing to its budget resolution, set the discretionary allocations for this bill at $34.90 billion.  NOAA was slated to receive $2.9 billion, a 20% increase over the FY 2000 level.  Key programs within NOAA for the geosciences include the Oceanic & Atmospheric Research program and the National Weather Service.  NIST works with industries to develop and apply new technologies, and NTIS acts as a central resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information.

Most Recent Action
The final days of the appropriations process proved to be interesting and messy.  Returning to an idea that Congress tried earlier in the appropriations process, it originally combined the Commerce Appropriations and District of Columbia Appropriations into one bill, H.R. 4942.  President Clinton threatened to veto the coupled bill at the end of October.  In the last-minute rush, the District of Columbia language was removed from H.R. 4942 leaving the language for the Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations intact.  The revised H.R. 4942 was presented to the president for his signature on December 15th, and he is expected to sign it within the next week.  Funding for NOAA remained the same as what was reported in the Conference Report for H.R. 4690 (H. Rept. 106-1005).  The only change made to NOAA funding came from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2001 (H.R. 4577) that combined the remaining appropriation bills -- Labor/HHS, Treasury-Postal, and Legislative Branch.  According to the Conference Report (H. Rept. 106-1033) for H.R. 4577, the bill provides an additional $750,000 for NOAA to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to establish the Coordinated Oceanographic Program Advisory Panel as well as a section on steller sea lion protection.  The sea lion issue was a heated topic between Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and the Administration.  Along with these changes, the omnibus bill includes a 0.22 percent drop in all agencies not funded in the bill, which includes NOAA.

Overall, the conference numbers are close to the requested amount among the different sections, but the subsections are funded with a different emphasis than the budget request.  NOAA base accounts received a total of $2.63 billion, a 4.2% decrease from the president's $2.74 billion request.  According to the Senate Appropriations Committee press release on the report, once funding from other provisions (primarily conservation and acquisition accounts) in the bill are accounted for, the grant total for NOAA activities comes to $3.1 billion.  By the numbers: the National Oceans Service programs received $290.7 million (a 28.4% decrease from the budget request), the Oceanic and Atmospheric Research programs received $323.2 million (a 6.8% increase over the budget request), the National Weather Service received $630.8 million (a slight decrease from the request), and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service received $125.2 million (a 15.7% increase over the budget request).  Details from the Conference Report sections covering NOAA are available below.


  House Action    Senate Action    Conference Action 

House Action
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary marked up the FY 2001 Commerce Appropriations bill on June 6, 2000.  According to the press release, the National Weather Service (NWS), which had requested $634.9 million, will receive $622 million, $13 million less than the request.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requested $2.9 billion in the President's budget and would receive $2.23 billion in the House version.  According to EENews, "Oceans and Atmospheric Research would receive $264 million, $38 million below the president's request and $33 million below the FY '00 budget."  The National Ocean Service would receive $260 million, $145 million less than the budget request.

The following week, the full House Appropriations Committee marked up H.R. 4690, the FY 2001 Commerce Appropriations bill.  At the full committee level an amendment offered by Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI) would prohibit the use of funds "to propose or issue rules, regulations, decrees, or orders for the purpose of implementation, or in preparation for implementation, of the Kyoto Protocol."  Funding levels for NOAA remained the same as reported out of the subcommittee ($2.23 billion) but the committee report (H. Rept. 106-680) gave details on the breakdown of the funding within NOAA.

The committee report begins by stating that the bill provides funding for "NOAA's highest priority, which is to maintain the operations of the National Weather Service," while maintaining most other programs at FY 2000 levels and providing no funding for new initiatives.

NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) requested $405.9 million and received only $260.6 million, a 35% decrease from the president's request.  Within the NOS: the Navigation Service had requested $109.0 million and received $102.4 million, the Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment program (which includes oceanic and coastal research that was funded at $5.4 million of the $8.5 million in the budget request) received $68.0 million of the $94.4 million requested, and the Ocean and Coastal Management program received $90.2 million, a 55% decrease from the $202.5 million requested.

The Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) program received $264.6 million, a 13% decrease from the $302.5 million requested.  Within OAR: the Climate and Air Quality Research program had requested $154.4 million and received $117.3 million, which includes $67.1 million for climate and global change research and $29.4 million for long-term climate and air quality research; the Atmospheric Programs had requested $47.6 million and received $46.2 million, which includes $35.8 million for weather research and $6.0 million for solar/geomagnetic research; and the Ocean and Great Lakes Program had requested $87.6 million and received $88.1 million, which includes $19.7 million for marine prediction research, $7.1 million for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), and $61.3 million for the sea grant program.

The National Weather Service (NWS) received $621.7 million, a 2% decrease from the $634.9 million requested.  Within NWS, the Operations and Research programs received $543.4 million of the $550.0 million requested.  The National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) received $106.6 million of the $108.2 million requested.

Administrative Response
Shortly after the House Appropriations Committee passed the bill out of committee, the White House Office of Budget and Management (OMB) released a Statement on Administration Policy that said, "given the severe underfunding of critical programs and highly objectionable language provisions in the bill . . . the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill if it were presented to him in its current form."  The statement continues by outlining problems with the NOAA allocation as reported by the House:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Administration strongly opposes the bill's cuts to the President's Lands Legacy Initiative, which is funded 63 percent below the request. Coastal ecosystem protection programs such as Marine Sanctuaries, estuarine reserves, coral restoration, and State coastal zone grants would be cut, along with salmon habitat grants, impeding States and Tribes in their Pacific salmon recovery efforts. In addition, the failure to provide any funds for U.S. obligations under the Pacific Salmon Treaty would jeopardize the Treaty's continued implementation and put already dwindling salmon stocks at further risk.

Failure to provide inflationary cost increases for core programs, along with other reductions in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs, could lead to staffing cuts of up to 1,000 employees. NOAA customers would receive reduced services -- including nautical charts, long-term climate and weather data, and fishery stock assessments. Reductions to the National Weather Service (NWS) request would jeopardize NWS base operations and would limit radiosonde replacements, potentially risking upper air observations. The Administration strongly recommends full funding for the climate services initiative, Climate and Global Change, the Clean Water Action Plan, the Global Disaster Information Network, the GLOBE program, NOAA weather radio, polar weather satellites, the Minority Serving Institutions initiative, and NOAA's investments in improved financial management.

On June 26th, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4690 in a 214-195 vote.  During the three days of floor debate before the vote, several amendments were offered primarily to change funding for programs within the Department of State and Department of Justice.  Similar to other appropriation bill amendments, the Commerce bill includes an amendment offered by Rep. John Olver (D-MA) that "any limitation imposed on activities related to the Kyoto Protocol shall not apply to activities which are otherwise authorized by law."  This amendment is in response to an amendment, passed at the committee markup on June 14th, introduced by Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI) that would prohibit the use of funds from this bill to be used for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.

Senate Action
In order to move the bill along, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce did not mark up H.R. 4690; instead, the subcommittee was polled, allowing the full committee to begin work on the bill. The committee completed marking up the bill on July 18th, and the accompanying report (S. Rept. 106-404) was filed on September 7th.  A large section of the report discussed the committee's concern over activities within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service.  In this discussion, the report states that the committee is providing $3.0 million from the fisheries section to fund conservation and management activities for coral-reef ecosystems.  NOAA received a total of $2.687 billion from the Senate committee.

The National Ocean Service (NOS) division received a total of $321.3 million, less than the $405.9 million requested in the President's budget.  Within NOS, the Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment program receive a total of $106.3 million, including $10.50 million for oceanic and coastal research, well above the $8.50 million requested.  Also receiving a boost is the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL) that was allocated $7.0 million, an increase over the $6.09 million requested.  The Ocean and Coastal Management program within NOS received a total of $76.50 million, well below the $170.5 million requested.  Coastal Zone Management Grants program, which had requested $147.4 million, received a cut to only $60.0 million.  Ocean and Coastal Management also was cut $4.50 million for nonpoint pollution control and $2.11 million from the program administration section.

The Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) division was allotted $318.2 million, a $15.70 million increase over the budget request.  Climate and air quality research was allocated a total of $143.7 million -- $14.99 million for interannual and seasonal climate research, $68.90 million for climate and global change research, $14.0 million for climate observations and services, and no funding for the GLOBE program, an international network of students, teachers, and scientists who use data gathered by students from around the world to better understand global systems.  The committee cited the agency's lack of planning to make the GLOBE program self-sufficient as the primary reason for the zero allocation.  Funding for the climate observations and services had requested $24.0 million, but the committee decided to fund only $14.0 million of the request, with $1.25 million of these moneys going to ice-physics research at the Thayer School of Engineering.  The long-term climate and air quality research section had requested $30.5 million and received $33.0 million and high performance computing for climate and air quality research was allotted the requested $12.75 million.

Also within OAR, atmospheric programs received a total of $49.6 million, a $2.0 million boost over the request.  Weather research requested $37.1 million and received $38.1 million.  The committee provided an unrequested $1.0 million for the Science Center for Teaching, Outreach, and Research on Meteorology (STORM) at the University of Northern Iowa "to incorporate wind-profile data into its operational forecast models and evaluate wind-profile measurements for improving the accuracy of weather forecasts."  A separate program on wind profile received the $4.35 million requested.

The largest increases within OAR were provided in the Ocean and Great Lakes programs, which had requested a total of $87.6 million and were allocated $112.0 million.  Marine research prediction had requested $22.6 million and received $30.2 million; Sea grant program received a boost to $64.8 million from the $59.3 million requested; and the National Undersea Research program had a zero request and received a $17.0 million allocation.

The National Weather Service (NWS) received a total of $632.5 million from the committee, a decrease from the $634.9 million requested.  NWS funds include: the requested $1.0 million for advanced hydrological prediction systems and the requested $3.07 million for atmospheric and hydrological research.

The National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) was allocated $112.1 million, $3.9 million more than the budget request.  Environmental data management systems received $51.7 million, including the requested $12.3 million for data and information services and an unrequested $3.6 million for regional climate centers.  In satellite observing systems, the ocean remote sensing program received the requested $4.0 million, the global disaster information network received none of the $5.5 million requested, and the environmental observing systems received $56.4 million.

Administrative Response
On October 6, 2000, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) expressing the Administration's concerns over low funding for key presidential projects.  The SAP states that the Senate version "severely underfunds critical programs and includes highly objectionable language provisions" that would lead the President to veto the bill in its current form.  According to the SAP, the major concerns for programs affecting the geosciences are low funding for the President's Lands Legacy Initiative -- marked for a 60% cut in the Senate bill -- and other conservation programs.  Several of the programs within NOAA were not funded at levels deemed appropriate by the Administration, such as the Climate Observation and Services initiative and the establishment of a Global Disaster Information Network.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The Administration strongly urges full funding of the Climate Observation and Services initiative in order to support a transition of research observing and data systems into operational systems and products.  Likewise, we strongly recommend funding for NOAA's efforts to establish an integrated inter-agency Global Disaster Information Network to improve disaster management information, for the Clean Water Action Plan, and for National Marine Fisheries Service activities to help recover endangered species.  In addition, the Administration urges that funding be provided to continue the highly successful Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program.  We also recommend increased funding for the PORTS program, to enable NOAA to institute quality controls for data that assist the maritime industry.
Conference Action
House members of the joint Commerce and District of Columbia appropriations bill include: Representatives Ernest Istook (R-OK), Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), John Sununu (R-NH), and C.W. Bill Young (R-FL).  Senate members include: Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Daniel Inouye (D-HI).  Senators Durbin and Inouye only participated in the District of Columbia portion of the conference.

The Conference Committee released its report on the coupled FY 2001 Department of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations and the FY 2001 District of Columbia Appropriations bill on October 25th (H. Rept. 106-1005).  The House passed the conferenced bill on October 26th in a 206-198 vote, and the Senate passed it the following day in a 49-43 vote.  Neither vote is close to the two-thirds majority needed to override the presidential veto that President Clinton announced on October 26th.  In a letter to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), and Democratic Leadership in both chambers, Clinton claimed that because the conference version had not been thoroughly reviewed by "neither [the] Administration nor virtually any Member of Congress" he had "no choice but to veto this bill."  Many of the objectionable provisions in the joint bill do not relate to NOAA, the key program of interest to the geosciences.

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee press release, NOAA would received a total of $3.1 billion, including $1 million for the Commission on Ocean Policy and $420 million for coastal and ocean programs.  Funding for NOAA core programs totals $2.63 billion, a 4.2% decrease from the budget request.  Despite a decrease for overall agency core activities, several programs received large increases over the request -- the National Marine Fisheries Service received a 14.4% increase and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) received a 15.7% increase.  Unfortunately, the National Ocean Service (NOS) received a whooping 28.4% decrease from the $406 million request in the president's budget.  Within NOS some programs saw decrease of over 60% from the requested amounts.  The other big loser in the appropriations end-game was the Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) programs that received $98.7 million, an 11.2% decrease from the budget request -- including a 49% decrease for climate observations and services. The good news is that presidential initiatives and congressional pressure for increased land and wildlife conservation helped boost the final NOAA numbers, some of which might go into programs with low core funding.

NOS was allotted a total of $290.7 million.  Navigation Services, including tide and current data and geodesy programs, received a 5.1% increase to total $114.6 million.  Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment received $89.3 million, a 5.4% decrease from the budget request.  Within this account, the oceanic and coastal research program received an 11.8% boost to total $9.5 million and the Coastal Ocean Program received $18.2 million.  The largest decreases within NOS went to the Ocean and Coastal Management programs which received a total funding of $86.8 million, a 57.2% decrease from the $202.5 million requested -- $52.0 million for coastal zone management (CZM) grants (a 64.7% decrease), $9.8 million for the estuarine research reserve system (an 18.8% decrease), and no funding for nonpoint pollution control activities ($4.5 million requested).

OAR received a total of $323.2 million for all its programs, a 6.8% increase from the budget request.  The hardest hit subdivision of the program were the climate and air quality research activities that received an 6.4% decrease from the budget request to total $144.5 million.  Atmospheric programs within OAR received $48.2 million, a slight increase from the budget request -- $37.5 million for weather research, $6 million for solar/geomagnetic research, and $4.4 million for winder profiling. Ocean and Great Lakes programs received $117.6 million, a 34.2% increase from the request and a 9.7% increase from the FY 2000 enact level.

The National Weather Service (NWS) was allocated $630.8 million, just shy of the request.  NESDIS received a 15.7% increase from the budget request to total $125.2 million.  The conference report also includes the new Wildlife, Ocean and Coastal Conservation title that authorizes $150 million for "coastal impact assistance" programs.  According to the conference report:

In addition to the funds provided to [NOAA] in the above table and narrative, the conference agreement includes an additional [$420 million] for special purposes.  Of this amount, [$150 million] is for coastal impact assistance as authorized by section 31 of the OUter Continental Shelf Act for fiscal year 2001 only and does not alter the underlying authorization; [$135 million] is for ocean, coastal and conservation programs, and [$135 million] is for [NOAA] program.  Of the funds provided for ocean, coastal and conservation programs, [$10 million] is provided for implementation of State nonpoint pollution control plans pursuant to section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act. . . .


Sources: USBudget.com, House Appropriations Committee website, EENews, Senate Appropriations Committee website, NOAA website, and Library of Congress.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

Contributed by Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs

Posted July 7, 2000; Last Updated on December 21, 2000


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