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Update on FY 2000 Science Appropriations (12-8-99)

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

Most Recent Action
Congress and the White House finally reached agreement on the remaining fiscal year (FY) 2000 appropriations bills, but it took seven continuing resolution to keep the government going during the last of these negotiations.  As in previous years, the last five bills -- Interior, District of Columbia, Foreign Operations, Commerce, and Labor/HHS -- were rolled into a last-minute omnibus bill. Previously, Republican leaders and the President were at odds over several areas, especially United Nations payments, mining regulations, federal lands, and tax cuts.  The $385 billion omnibus bill (H.R. 3194; Rpt. 106-479) passed both chambers of Congress on November 19th in the final hours before adjourning the first session of the 106th Congress, and the Presudent signed the bill  into law at the end of the month.  On November 24, Government Affairs sent out an special alert on the omnibus bill and other last-minute bills that affect the geosciences.  Below are the final numbers for the geosciences for FY 2000. The second session of Congress will begin on January 24, 2000.

One of the largest increases affecting the geoscience agencies was the Administration's demand for increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund -- President Clinton's Lands Legacy Initiative -- and land acquisition.  The Land Legacy Initiative, a program to expand "federal protection of critical lands" by helping communities preserve "America’s natural treasures," ended up with $330 million in funding, several million less than the requested amount but much better than the initial zero funding by Congress. Also, helping to up the total Department of the Interior appropriations, the final report allocated a total of $101 million for acquisition of the Bacca Ranch in northern New Mexico.

With the exception of these two programs, the last-minute negotiations between Congressional Leaders and the White House did not directly affect the funding of the primary geoscience agencies and programs:  the US Geological Survey, the Mineral Management Service, Department of Energy fossil programs, U.S. Forest Service, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  For information on the final outcome of legislative riders to the Interior Appropriations bill see the special alert send out at the end of November.

However, the omnibus appropriations bill did include a 0.38 percent across-the-board cut in discretionary spending for all federal agencies and programs.  Fortunately, the agency administrators will choose how the cuts are implemented, with no one program receiving more than a 15 percent cut.  Many of the agencies are still working out where and how the cuts will be administered.

Once it was all said and done, the final discretionary spending amounts for the geosciences were better than expected, considering the spending caps and extremely low House numbers.  Amounts below do not indicate the across-the-board cut:
 

Agency/ Program FY2000
Requested
FY2000
Final
Department of the Interior  $7.768 billion $7.439 billion
       -- US Geological Survey $838.5 million $823.8 million
       -- Minerals Management Service $116.2 million $116.8 million
       -- Bureau of Land Management $1.27 billion $1.23 billion
       -- Office of Surface Mining Reclamation 
           and Enforcement
$306 million $287 million
US Forest Service $2.913 billion $2.831 billion
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration $2.34 billion $2.35 billion
DOE fossil program $340  million $386 million



The AAAS R&D Budget Policy Project keeps an updated table of appropriations bill status on their website.  Also, the Library of Congress has a table of appropriations bills with links to the text of both the legislation and the congressional reports. The American Geophysical Union and American Institute of Physics have sent out a number of e-mail alerts on spending bills.

Science funding in FY2000 is a mixed bag.  Overall, Senate appropriations bills were more favorable than the House bills, and the final conference numbers were even higher following negotiations with the Administration.  Earmarked projects, especially those in Appropriations committee members' districts, fared better than the overall science budgets.  The AAAS R&D Budget Policy Project website contains several charts and summaries on specific scientific agencies and the proposed levels of spending.  AGU maintains a position statement on earmarks in funding legislation.

Key legislators for the House-Senate conferences on appropriations bills are C.W. Young (R-FL), the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee; David Obey (D-WI), Ranking Member of the committee; Ted Stevens (R-AK), the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee; and Robert Byrd (D-WV), the Ranking Member of the Senate committee.  The remaining conferees are members of the House and the Senate Appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over that particular appropriation bill.

The current status of geoscience-related appropriations bills:


Budget Process
As it does each year, the appropriations process began in February when the President submitted his budget request to Congress. That request was constrained both by the 1997 balanced budget agreement, which set spending caps for future years, and by $28 billion in emergency spending that passed just before the 1998 elections and which had to be paid for out of the next year's budget. The President's request avoided some of the cuts required by the caps through proposed increases in revenue such as a tobacco settlement and higher fees.

When the Republican-controlled Congress drafted its budget resolution -- a "fiscal blueprint" providing broad spending guidelines for both discretionary (annually appropriated) and mandatory (entitlement programs) spending -- they viewed such revenue enhancements as tax increases and thus excluded them. At the same time, they also sought to provide increases for defense spending. As a result, the budget resolution called for significant cuts to domestic discretionary spending, including budget categories that include most science agencies.

After the budget resolution is approved by both chambers (it does not go to the President), the House and Senate Appropriations Committee apportions discretionary funds, known as 602(b) allocations, to each of its 13 subcommittees to draft appropriations bills. Once drafted, each bill must be passed by the subcommittee, Appropriations Committee, and appropriate chamber of Congress respectively. Once a bill has passed both Houses of Congress, the House and Senate will conference to reach agreement on differences in their bills. The final version will be presented to the President for his signature or veto.

Although it appears that few in Washington actually want to see the kinds of cuts that are being proposed, neither the Administration nor Congress are willing to break the budget caps for fear of the political fallout. When the 602(b) allocations were announced in May, many analysts thought that congressional leaders were seeking to force a confrontation -- granting relatively generous allocations to less controversial bills that generally pass quickly anyway and leaving the largest cuts for the high-profile bills that contain funding for education, health, housing, veterans, and other popular programs.

But House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) insist that they truly want to see the cuts take place and are exhorting their troops to stay in line. They are having a particularly difficult time with appropriators, who have delayed action on several bills in the hope that a compromise would be reached. Whether the earlier brinksmanship between the Administration and Congress has now turned into a headlong drive toward reduced government spending is now a very open question. The congressional leadership have begun to target a number of "emergency" spending categories -- assigning that status to pull some funding out from under the caps.

The AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Project website contains additional analysis of the President's request, congressional budget resolution, 602(b) allocations, and each science-related appropriations bill.

Additional AGI analysis of the President's budget request and Congressional action is available on these web sites:



FY 2000 Appropriations Bills

  Commerce 
(NOAA)
  Energy & Water 
(DOE)
  Interior 
(USGS/DOE)
  Labor/HHS 
(Education)
VA/HUD
  (EPA/NASA/NSF) 


Commerce, State, Justice, Judiciary (NOAA)

Final results in AGI Special Update.

The principal agency of interest in this bill from a geoscience perspective is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is the only other significant science-related program in the bill. A detailed breakdown of the NOAA budget request is available on the NOAA website.

The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out its version (S. 1217) on June 16th, and the full Senate passed it on July 22. The House bill passed a subcommittee markup on July 23 with substantial cuts to NOAA. The bill (H.R. 2670) then passed the full Appropriations Committee and eventually the full House on August 5 in a voice vote.  Conference members began meeting in the last few weeks of September and released their report (H. Rept. 106-398) on October 19.  President Clinton vetoed the bill on October 26 citing several problems with the current version -- most of these problems revolve around foreign involvement and domestic security issues.  The President's veto does not mention anything specifically about NOAA.  Below is conference report language on NOAA as it currently stands.

Conference
The conference agreement provides a total funding level of $2,298,736,000 for all programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), instead of $1,956,838,000 as proposed by the House, and $2,556,876,000 as proposed by the Senate. Of these amounts, the conferees have included $1,658,189,000 in the Operations, Research, and Facilities (ORF) account, $589,067,000 in the Procurement, Acquisition and Construction (PAC) account, and $51,480,000 in other NOAA accounts.

Key legislators for this appropriation bill are Judd Gregg (R-NH), the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary; Ernest Hollings (D-SC), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee; Harold Rogers (R-KY), the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary; and Jose Serrano (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee.  The remaining conferees are members of the House and the Senate Appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over this particular appropriation bill.

Senate
The Senate bill is quite generous to NOAA, providing $2.55 billion for the agency, well above the $2.33 billion request and the $2.17 billion received in FY 1999. The Senate bill would provide $319.9 million for oceanic and atmospheric research at NOAA, considerably more than the $282.6 million requested or the $287.4 million received in FY 1999. NASULGC reports the following specific amounts:

- $144,100,000 for Climate and Air Quality;
- $18,900,000 for Interannual and Seasonal Climate Research;
- $32,000,000 Long-term Climate and Air Quality Research, $2,600,000 below the request;
- $13,500,000, the increased request, for High-Performance Computing;
- $77,200,000 in fiscal year 2000 for the Climate and Global Change Program, an increase of $14,200,000 above the FY 1999 level;
- $3,000,000 to continue efforts to accelerate the refinement of climate models;
- $2,500,000 for the GLOBE Program (The Committee directs NOAA to submit a report not later than November 30, 1999, on how much all agencies have spent on GLOBE to date and what steps will be taken to make the program self-sustaining by FY 2001. The Committee states that the data collected cannot be incorporated into NOAA's atmospheric research and of limited scientific value for NOAA);
- $53,050,000 for Atmospheric programs, about $6,000,000 above the request and FY 1999.
- $34,690,000 for the ocean and Great Lakes programs, an increase of $12,390,000 above the request and $1,064,000 above FY 1999.
- $2,450,000 for ocean observation
- $6,600,000 for the administration's new initiative, ocean floor observatories; of which $2,000,000 is for the underseas technology institute, and $1,500,000 is for a tsunami warning and environmental observatory at Shumigan Islands;
- $400,000 for continued hypoxia research;
- $2,100,000 for the VENTS Program;
- $1,000,000 for National Invasive Species Act implementation;
- $1,200,000 for ballast water research and small boat portage zebra mussel dispersion problems in the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes. - $60,500,000 for the Sea Grant Program. - $14,550,000 for the National Undersea Research Program, an increase of $6,050,000 above the fiscal year 2000 request.

The National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service would receive $111.6 million, the same as FY 1999 and $7 million more than requested.

The National Ocean Service would receive $293.5 million, down $35 million from the President's request. The National Marine Fisheries Service would receive $442.1 million, up nearly $22 million over the President's request. The National Weather Service would receive $620.1 million, up $2.2 million from the request.

House
In contrast to the generosity of the Senate bill, the House bill slashes research funding at NOAA by over 10 percent from FY 1999. NOAA as a whole would receive $1.96 billion, down $547 million below the request and $208 million below FY 1999 levels. Ocean and atmospheric research, remote sensing, and marine fisheries programs would take the brunt of reductions. In contrast, the National Weather Service was the big winner, slated for a 7 percent increase to $599.2 million. Ocean and Atmospheric Research would decrease $26.8 million relative to last year at $260.6 million. The National Marine Fisheries Service would decline $26.9 million relative to FY 1999 at $350.5 million. NESDIS would be funded at $100.7 million, $9.3 million below FY 1999, and the National Ocean Service would be funded at $235.9 million, down $22.3 million from FY 1999 and down $92.6 million from the President's request.


Energy and Water

This bill funds the bulk of the Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation.

Final Bill
After meeting in conference, the two chambers quickly passed the Energy and Water bill, making it one of the few appropriation bills to be sent to and approved by the White House before the beginning of the new fiscal year.  The House passed the bill (H.R. 2605) by a 327-87 vote on September 27, the same day it came out of conference, and the Senate passed the bill in a 96-3 vote the following day.  Despite many differences between the House and Senate bills, the conference members were able to move ahead after the addition of $1.1 billion to the House numbers for energy and water programs.  Congress's approval of the conference report (H. Rept. 106-336) was just in time for the President to sign it before the October 1 deadline.

Similar to many appropriation bills, the Energy and Water appropriation bill includes several legislative riders, some of which had carried veto threats from the White House.  A major topic of disagreement between the House bill  and the President was a group of wetland riders that would speed up the review process for wetland permits and increase wetland losses.  The House made concessions on the wetland riders in return for Senate support for increases in the Army Corps of Engineers budget.  Overall, water programs, strongly supported by the House, came out ahead with an increase of $45 million above last year's levels, and energy programs received $16.7 billion, a decrease of nearly $390 million from last year.

The Yucca Mountain program to study a permanent geologic repository for nuclear waste in Nevada will receive $352.5 million, less than the $358 million provided in  FY 99.  Programs for solar and renewable energy received a funding increase in conference from low committee numbers to end at $362.2 million, still well below the current levels.  Nuclear energy programs received $288.7 million, an amount well over the President's request.  The Department of Energy's program to clean up contaminated sites received $5.7 billion.

Basic Energy Sciences (BES) within the Office of Science received $774 million, down 2.7 percent from FY 1999 and down 12.8 percent from the request, primarily due to significant decreases in funding for the Spallation Neutron Source project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory over which the House Science Committee has raised numerous questions about project management. The geosciences program within BES received full funding.

Complete funding levels for all programs included in the Energy and Water appropriation bill is available in the Conference Report (106-336).

Senate
The Senate moved first on its version of this bill (S. 1186), passing it by a vote of 97-2 on June 16th. The Senate allocation was $21.7 billion, $0.6 billion over FY1999 and fully $2.3 billion more than the House allocation of $19.4 billion. House subcommittee chairman Rep. Ron Packard (R-CA) was understandably reluctant to move forward with his bill, hoping to squeeze additional dollars from full committee chairman Rep. C. W. Bill Young (R-FL). His bill (H.R. 2605) was passed by the full House Appropriations Committee on July 20 by which time the principal focus had shifted to overhauling the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons complex and various plans to reorganize DOE in light of the recently uncovered security breaches.

AGU Science Legislative Alert 99-18 discusses the Senate bill in greater detail and specifically addresses cuts to the geosciences program in DOE Basic Energy Sciences. The Senate bill provides $854.5 million for Basic Energy Sciences (BES), roughly $33 million less than requested.

House
The House bill (H.R. 2605) passed by a 420-8 vote on July 27. In the House bill, science programs would receive $2.7 billion, a 4.1 percent decrease from the request but 0.8 percent above FY 1999 levels. Within that total, Basic Energy Sciences (which includes the Geosciences research program) would receive $736 million, fully $153 million below the request. Most of that decrease is due to reduced funding for the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory -- management of the facility's construction has been a target of congressional concern.

The Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste disposal project would receive $281 million in the House bill, substantially less than the $409 million request, the $358 million received in FY 1999, or the $355 million granted by the Senate bill. A spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute criticized the House allocation, stating that it is "so far below DOE's request that it would cause significant schedule delays if not shut down the project altogether."

Both the House and Senate bills provide the full request of $22.7 million for the Geosciences Program in BES. That request, however, disguises a significant cut to the core program, a situation described in greater detail in the AGI special update on the President's budget request.


Interior and Related Agencies

Final results in AGI Special Update.

This bill encompasses almost all of the Department of the Interior, including the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). It also funds the U.S. Forest Service, DOE fossil and energy efficiency programs, the Smithsonian Institution, and many small agencies, including the highly controversial National Endowment for the Arts. Because this bill contains the National Park Service, the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee receives more request letters from other members of Congress than any other civilian subcommittee. Despite its popularity, however, the bill has been one of the last to pass in recent years, often ending up as part of a last-minute omnibus bill, due to the inclusion of legislative "riders" concerning environmental and public lands issues. Indeed, the bill has become a hostage of the deep divide between the Clinton Administration and Republicans, particularly those from the western states. In April, AGI testified in support of USGS and DOE programs before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.

A House-Senate conference committee completed its action on October 20.  Both chambers of Congress quickly passed the following day.  President Clinton issued a veto threat on October 22, stating that version Congress submitted is "a bill loaded with special-interest riders."  The major controversial issues include oil royalty valuation regulations, grazing permits in the West, reintroduction of grizzly bears into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness of Idaho and Montana, reinstating a five-acre limitation on mill sites, and low funding levels for the President's Lands Legacy program.  All of these topics have been reworked and revised in the conference meetings, but these changes were not enough to appease the White House.  The House passed the appropriations bill by a 225-200 vote, shy of the two-thirds needed to override a Presidential veto.  One promising addition to the conference report was $40 million "that will be used to buy and protect the Baca Ranch in northern New Mexico."

In the conference report, the USGS would receive $823.8 million, slightly more than either the House ($820.4 million) or Senate ($813.1 million) bills provided but still less than the $838 million request. Most of the increase over FY 1999's $798 million goes toward uncontrollable costs. Other increases are $2.4 million for upgrading seismic networks and other real-time hazard programs in the Geologic Division and another $2.0 million for upgrading streamgage networks in the Water Resources Division. Quite a number of increases go to specific, earmarked projects including $0.5 million for the Great Lakes geologic mapping project, $2 million for minerals programs in Alaska, and a number of smaller increases for various volcanic, hydrologic, and biologic projects.

The conferees accepted the Survey's proposed line items for Science Support and Facilities but rejected the proposed Integrated Science line item. No funds were provided for presidential initiatives to create community information partnerships or a disaster information network.

The Interior bill was reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 24 (S. 1292; S. Rept. 106-99). It was being considered by the full Senate when Congress went into its August recess, and the bill was one of the first taken up in September.  The Senate passed S. 1292 in an 89-10 vote on September 23, 1999.  The House version (H.R. 2466; H. Rept. 106-222) passed in subcommittee markup on June 29 with a  full committee markup on July 2, and full House passage on July 15. Once again the Interior Appropriations bill includes several contentious riders that have received veto threats from the White House.

The Senate bill's allocation was originally set at $13.9 billion, $0.4 billion below FY 1999 levels and $1.1 billion less than the President's request, but the bill as passed by the Appropriations Committee was $14.1 billion. The original House allocation was $11.3 billion, a whopping $3.7 billion below the President's request. Despite considerable pressure from the House leadership to move the bill, House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH) had resisted marking up his version of the bill in the hope that additional money would be made available. His wish came true with a $2.8 billion allocation increase from full committee chairman Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), who found most of the money by agreeing to an Administration proposal to auction off additional portions of the frequency spectrum.

The Administration has issued a veto threat of the Senate bill due to the lack of funding for the President's $1 billion Lands Legacy Initiative (the Senate bill provides $263 million, the House $219 million) and the presence of legislative riders on mining, petroleum, logging, and habitat issues.

Key legislators for this appropriation bill are Slade Gorton (R-WA), the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on  Interior; Robert Bryd (D-WV), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee; Ralph Regula (R-OH), the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior; and Norman Dicks (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee.  The remaining conferees are members of the House and the Senate Appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over this particular appropriation bill.

Senate
U.S. Geological Survey: In the Senate bill, the USGS would receive $813 million, an increase of $15 million over FY 1999 but $25 million below the Administration's $838 million request. Increases are primarily for uncontrollable costs (i.e. cost-of-living increases for salary), not for the Administration's initiatives.

In the Geologic Division, funding was restored for the Alaska minerals-at-risk program, the mineral resources program, coastal and marine geology program, and coal availability studies in the energy program. The only requested increase granted was $1.2 million to purchase and install modern seismographs for pilot projects in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Seattle.

In the Water Resources Division, funds were restored for the Federal-State Cooperative Water program, hydrologic networks and analysis, and several specific projects. The National Mapping Division received an increase for the EROS Data Center.

The budget restructuring proposed in the Administration's request -- establishing separate bureau-wide line items for facilities and science support, and expanding the integrated science account -- was denied. The Senate report states:

The Committee, after due deliberation based on discussions with many groups, is unable at this time to approve the budget restructuring proposed by the Geological Survey. The proposed restructuring appears to introduce significant and substantive changes to several functional and programmatic aspects of the Geological Survey that require more thoughtful and broader dialogs than appear to have been held to date. The Committee expects USGS to seek broader involvement from those individuals and groups that will be directly impacted by the restructuring of its programs and the accompanying redirection of funding in order to develop a greater level of support for any proposed changes. The Committee is supportive of restructuring as a tool to improve program efficiency and accountability, particularly when restructuring proposals are specifically tied to strategic plans and are designed to enhance the development of performance measures. The Committee looks forward to working with the Geological Survey to improve its budget structure.

Department of Energy: Funding for DOE's Office of Fossil Energy increased over the President's request by $30 million to $391 million, $6.9 million over the FY1999 level. The natural gas research program was given $7.9 million more than the President's request (mostly for advanced turbine system research), and the oil technology program received $6 million more than the President's request.

Land Management Agencies: Overall funding for land management agencies -- BLM, NPS, FWS, and USFS -- was similar to FY 1999 levels, well below the President's request. In particular, his massive Lands Legacy Initiative received only a fraction of the funding requested. In the National Park Service, a requested $735,000 increase to augment the geologic resource program was not funded.

Senate Riders: As in the past, the Senate bill came to the floor with a number of controversial riders attached. First among them was a provision related to the 1872 Mining Law that would reverse a 1997 opinion by Interior Department Solicitor John Leshy limiting mill sites to 5 acres per claim. According to the EESI Weekly Bulletin, environmentalists claim that the rider -- introduced by Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) -- "would lift restrictions on waste dumping at mine sites." This website contains an AGI update on a recent hearing held by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee focusing on Leshy's 1997 opinion rejecting an application by the Crown Jewel Mine in Washington state. On the Senate floor, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) attempted to remove this rider, but her amendment was defeated.

Another rider was added to the bill by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) extending the current moratorium on a Minerals Management Service (MMS) oil royalty rule until June 30, 2001. The AGI website contains more on that issue at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis.html#royalty.

The controversy over riders was further convoluted when -- just before taking up the Interior bill -- the Senate passed S. Res. 160 on a straight party line vote, re-establishing a procedural rule (Rule 16) that limits amendments to appropriations bills to only those affecting spending levels, barring those that change authorization. With few bills passing Congress, senators in both the majority and minority increasingly have attached their pet legislative provisions to must-pass appropriations bills in order to get them enacted. Such provisions would normally fall within the jurisdiction of other committees (e.g. the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee) tasked with authorization and oversight of federal programs. The newly re-instated rule forced several provisions -- including the royalty rule moratorium -- from the Interior bill, but sponsors have vowed to reword their amendments and resubmit them when the Senate considers the bill after the August recess.

House
U.S. Geological Survey: The House bill (H.R. 2466; H. Rept. 106-222) provides the USGS with $820.4 million, a $21.5 million increase over FY 1999 but $18.0 million less than requested. In addition to increases for fixed costs, the Geologic Division would receive an increase of $2.4 million for real time hazards ($0.4 million for landslides, $1.6 million for earthquakes, and $0.4 million for geomagnetism) and $0.5 million for coastal geology, the latter specifically targeted to a salmon recovery project in the district of subcommittee ranking member Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA). The landslide increase comes with instructions to develop a comprehensive landslide strategy, "including the estimated costs associated with addressing the widespread landslide hazards facing the Nation." Such a study is in fact underway and slated for completion in the coming fiscal year. Decreases were related to specific projects added by the Senate in last year's bill.

The Water Resources Division would receive increases for fixed costs, for real time hazards ($2.5 million) and amphibian research ($0.5 million); and decreases for watershed modeling ($1.0 million) and several specific projects previously earmarked by the Senate.

Unlike its Senate counterpart, the House approved most of the budget restructuring proposed in the Survey's request, greatly expanding bureau-wide Science Support and Facilities accounts. The exception was the proposed expansion of the Integrated Science account, which the Committee rejected.

The report accompanying the House bill is quite critical of what it considers an "initiative du jour" approach by the Clinton Administration in recent USGS budget requests, favoring new Administration initiatives such as the Clean Water Action Plan and the Global Disaster Information Network at the expense of the Survey's traditional mission areas. The Appropriations Committee tells the USGS to "provide a statement defining the Survey's vision of its future role." The report then explicitly states what that role should be: "The Committee believes that the Survey's mission should continue to be a primary provider of scientific research, basic data, and assessments, and not shift its focus to becoming an information agency disseminating and coordinating the work of others."

In rejecting the Integrated Science restructuring initiative, the report states:

The Committee does not approve the Survey's request to establish a new "Integrated Science" (place based and DOI science) activity....The Committee believes that the Survey did not adequately gather support for its budget restructuring proposals with its partners, and as a result the majority of comments from Survey partners were in opposition to the restructuring proposals.

With respect to integrated science, the Committee believes that this is primarily a management issue and not a function of the structure of the budget. The Committee is dismayed to learn that the Survey does not currently engage in integrated science. Integrated science is not a new paradigm, and as such, the Survey should already be doing both coordinated and integrated science projects in support of Survey programs across its four divisions, with other Interior bureaus, and with other Federal agencies. The Committee is convinced that if the Survey's top leadership were committed to doing integrated science then any institutional barriers to integrated science would be easily overcome.

Department of Energy: The House and Senate bills differ substantially in their funding of DOE's Fossil Energy R&D program. Where the Senate increased funding above the FY 1999 level, the House Appropriations Committee recommended a $48.8 million cut from FY 1999, $4.7 million less than the Administration requested. The bulk of the decrease, however, is due to a budget restructuring that moves advanced turbine research out of Fossil Energy and into the Energy Conservation account. As a result, the natural gas program would receive $27.4 million, down $40.2 million from the request ($41.0 million transferred). The oil technology program would receive $54.7 million, up $4.5 million over the request with the increase targeted at recovery field demonstrations.

When the Interior bill reached the House floor, however, much larger cuts were in store. Several amendments were accepted that shifted $79 million from fossil energy R&D to various conservation programs.

Land Management Agencies: Like the Senate bill, the House bill virtually ignores the President's Lands Legacy initiative. Unlike its counterpart, this bill does fund the National Park Service request of $735,000 to augment the geologic resource program.

Riders: As a whole, the House version of the Interior bill was kept free of the legislative riders that characterize the Senate bill. Indeed, a provision was passed 273-151 specifically to counteract the Senate rider rescinding the Interior Department's legal opinion on mill-site claim size under the 1872 Mining Law. The House provision was introduced by Reps. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Nick Joe Rahall (D-WV), and Christopher Shays (R-CT).


Labor HHS (includes Department of Education)

The House Appropriations Committee released its report on September 30 (H.R. Rept. 106-370) with its recommendations for the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill, and it has been placed on the calendar for House floor debate.  On the other side of the Hill, the Senate Appropriations Committee released their committee report (S. Rept. 106-166) on September 28.  After several days of floor debate, the Senate approved the Labor/HHS appropriations bill on October 7.  Overall, the Senate bill gives a boost to education funding at the same time it restructures several of the major programs under the Department of Education.  As in previous years, the Senate numbers are higher than the House numbers.  President Clinton has issued a veto threat of the Labor/HHS bill, claiming that the bill "undermines the commitment we made last year to hire quality teachers and reduce class size in the early grades.  It underfunds after-school programs and such important efforts as the GEAR UP mentoring program, education technology, and adult literacy."  Ever since the Presidential veto threat, the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill has been in a holding pattern.  It looks as if it will be one of the last bills to be considered, increasing the chance of being included in a last-minute omnibus bill.

Key legislators for this appropriation bill are Arlen Specter (R-PA), the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on  Labor, Health and Human Services, Education; Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee; John Edward Porter (R-IL), the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; and David Obey (D-WI), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee.  The remaining conferees are members of the House and the Senate Appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over this particular appropriation bill.

Senate
The Senate Appropriations Committee provided a boost to the funding levels for education programs, giving a total of $312 billions for the entire Labor/HHS appropriations.  Department of Education programs received a 5% increase in discretionary funding, receiving a total of $35.2 billion.  Included in the discretionary spending is $4.8 million for Head Start.  Below is the report language for the general Department of Education funding.

The Committee has provided $1,655,600,000 in this account for education reform initiatives.  The recommendation includes $494,000,000 for education reform activities authorized by the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, $55,000,000 to continue implementation of school-to-work transition systems authorized by the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, $706,600,000 for education technology authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and $400,000,000 for 21st century community learning centers.

House
The bill includes a total of $33,320,697,000 for programs in the Department of Education.  Overall, the bill provides an increase in Elementary and Secondary Education programs of $27,254,000 above last year.  However, there are many education programs funded elsewhere in the bill...

The bill includes $800,100,000 for Education Reform programs.  This amount is $1,146,900,000 less than the Administration's fiscal year 2000 request and $714,000,000 less than the 1999 amount.  This appropriation account includes Goals 2000 under the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, School-to-Work under the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, technology programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the 21st Century Schools under the Elementary and Secondary Act. The bill accepts the Administration's proposal for transferring the 21st Century Schools program from the Education, Research, Statistics and Improvement account to the Education Reform account.
 


VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies (includes NSF, NASA, EPA)

Along with Labor/HHS, this bill was expected to be one of the last considered by Congress and the toughest to pass, but in a surprising change, members of Congress have moved the VA/HUD Appropriations bill through the conference phase and onto the White House.  Conference members released their report on the VA/HUD language at the beginning of October (H.R. Rept. 106-379).  Both chambers passed the Appropriations bill with strong support, after compromising on funding levels for NASA, NSF and EPA programs. The White House was not enthusiastic about the conference report and requested a bipartisan meeting to compromise on contentious issues.  After the bipartisan meeting, a White House press release states that "the bill increases the nation's investment in scientific discovery and education, which has helped to fuel our remarkable economic growth for the past decade."

The National Science Foundation received a total of $3.9 billion, near the Administration's request level and 5.5 percent above FY 1999. As in the request, the bulk of the increase will be channeled to biocomplexity and information technology initiatives. The Research and Related Activities account will increase 5.6 percent to $2.97 billion. Within that amount, the Geosciences Directorate will receive $489 million, a 0.7 percent increase over the Administration's request and 3.3 percent above last year's allocation. Polar Research Programs received $255 million, up 3.9 percent over FY 1999. The House-Senate conference report includes extensive discussion of specific programs within polar research and the National Oceanographic Partnership Program. The NSF Education and Human Resources Directorate increases 5.3 percent to $697 million.

The enacted bill provides NASA with a total of $13.7 billion. Within this amount, the Office of Earth Science will receive $1.4 billion, slightly less than the president's request but just over 2% more than the FY 1999 allocation. At times during the appropriations process, earth science programs were slated for cuts up to 20 percent. Despite the House recommendation to abolish the controversial Triana program, the final version of the bill included enough money to keep the project alive but directs the National Academy of Science to perform an evaluation of the mission's scientific value. NASA's overall research and development funding will remain flat.

The second-largest of the non-defense appropriations bills, its 602(b) allocation was very low in both the House and Senate -- the House bill contains nearly $3.5 billion less than in FY 1999, $5 billion lower if one factors in inflation.  The Senate released their report on VA/HUD (S. Rept. 106-161) in the middle of September, followed by a voice vote on the bill two weeks later.  Funding levels for the science programs included in this bill generally faired well in the Senate version, but many of the increases were funneled to specific projects.

The Conference Report provided $5,606,700,000 for science, aeronautics and technology under NASA, this amount includes $1,455,200,000 for earth sciences. Included in the Conference report is a request for NASA to submit a report "by March 15, 2000 on an EOS II strategy that articulates in detail the NASA plan for earth science through fiscal year 2010," as well as work with the EPA, NSF, and FEMA to prepare a report on the benefits of remote sensing.  NASA sponsored earth science programs is several regions received earmarked increases.

NSF received a total of $2,966,000,000 for research and related activities in the Conference Report.  This amount provides for $253,000,000 for Polar research and operations support, but the report also included language that prohibits the use of these funds to acquire any ice-breaking capable vessel that was made outside of the United States.  The National Oceanographic Partnership Program received $5,000,000.  NSF is required to work with other agencies and organizations to provide the Appropriations Committee with a multi-year plan for multi-national research program in the Arctic, the program received $25,000,000 for arctic research support.

One section of the VA/HUD appropriation bill has gained the attention of the science community.  Section 430 includes a passage that states: "No funds in this Act shall be made available for any activity or the publication or distribution of literature that in any way tends to promote public support or opposition to any legislative proposal on which congressional action is not complete."  This passage restates existing regulations that prohibit the use of federal research grant money for lobbying, but the broad language might have greater implications for the scientific community.  In conference the sections dealing with federally funded projects and lobbying was changed.  The new language included in the conference report now states:

Sec. 426.  Except in the case of entities that are funded solely with Federal funds or any natural persons that are funded under this Act, none of the funds in this Act shall be used for the planning or execution of any program to pay the expenses of, or otherwise compensate, non-Federal parties to lobby or litigate in respect to adjudicatory proceeding funded in this Act.  A chief executive officer of any entity receiving funds under this Act shall certify that none of these funds have been used to engage in the lobbying of the Federal government or in litigation against the United States unless authorized under existing laws.

Sec. 428.  No part of any funds appropriated in this Act shall be used by an agency of the executive branch, other than for normal and recognized executive-legislative relationships, for the publicity of propaganda purposes, and for the preparation, distribution or use of any kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, radio, television or film presentation designed to support or defeat legislation pending before Congress, except in presentation of the Congress itself.

The American Geophysical Union put out an alert (ASLA 99-19) on this bill and released an alert (ASLA 99-26) on possible NASA funding cuts during the conference meetings.

Key legislators for this appropriation bill are Christopher  Bond (R-MO), the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on  VA/HUD and Independent Agencies; Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee; James Walsh (R-NY), the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA/HUD and Independent Agencies; and Alan Mollohan (D-WV), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee.  The remaining conferees are members of the House and the Senate Appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over this particular appropriation bill.

Senate
The Senate Appropriations Committee provided funding levels for NSF and NASA that are equal to the administration's request.  In an action very different than the House Appropriations Committee, the Senate committee increased funding for the EPA, especially programs aimed at decreasing global production of ozone-depleting chemicals.  Of the $91 billion in the Senate version of the VA/HUD bill, the Council on Environmental Quality received $2.675 million and $13.6 billion went to provide NASA programs.

NSF:

The Committee recommends $3,921,450,000 for the National Science Foundation for the fiscal year 2000.  This amount is $250,250,000 more than the fiscal year 1999 enacted level and the same as the budget request.  The Committee recommends an appropriation of $3,007,300,00 for research and related activities.  This amount is $237,300,00 above the fiscal year 1999 enacted level and $3,300,00 more than the budget request.  The Committee recommendation also includes $55,000,000 for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, which is transferred from the Education and Human Resources account.  The Committee recommends an appropriation of $70,000,000 for major research equipment.  This amount is $20,000,000 less than the fiscal year 1999 enacted level and $15,000,000 below the budget request.  The Committee recommends an appropriation of $688,600,000 for education and human resources (EHR).  This amount is $26,600,000 more than fiscal year 1999 enacted level and $10,600,000 more than the budget request.  The Committee also notes that NSF expects to receive an additional $30,000,000 from the H 1B Visa account which will further supplement its EHR activities.  The Committee recommends an appropriation of $150,000,000 for salaries and expenses.  The increase of $1,000,000 above the budget request is provided in response to concerns raised by the Inspector General regarding the lack of available travel funds for NSF program officers in overseeing grant awards effectively.  The Committee directs NSF to fund program travel only from its salaries and expenses account and not use program funds for travel purposes.  The Committee recommends an appropriation of $5,550,000 for the Office of Inspector General in the fiscal year 2000.  This amount is $350,000 more than the fiscal year 1999 enacted level and $100,000 more than the budget request.  The Committee is providing these additional funds to support the work of the Office of Inspector General in the areas of cost-sharing, indirect costs, and misconduct in scientific research.

EPA:

The Committee recommends a total of $7,322,378,000 for EPA.  This is an increase of $115,732,000 above the budget request and a decrease of $267,974,000 below the fiscal year 1999 enacted level.  The Committee recommends the budget request of $642,483,000 for science and technology, a decrease of $17,517,000 below the enacted level.  In addition, the Committee recommends the transfer of $38,000,00 from the Superfund account, for a total of $680,483,000 for science and technology.  The Committee recommends $1,885,000,000 for environmental programs and management, an increase of $38,300,00 above the 1999 level and a decrease of $161,993,000 below the budget request.  The Committee recommends $32,409,000 for the Office of Inspector General, an increase of $3,000,000 above the budget request.  In addition, the budget request of $10,753,000 will be available by transfer from the Superfund account, for a total of $43,162,000.  The trust fund resources will be transferred to the inspector general "General fund" account with an expenditure transfer.  The Committee recommends $25,930,000 for buildings and facilities.  The Committee recommendation does not include, without prejudice, the administration request of $36,700,000 for the Research Triangle Park laboratory construction project owing to budget constraints.  The Committee recommends $1,400,000,000 for Superfund, a decrease of $100,000,000 below the budget request and fiscal year 1999 enacted level.  The amount provided includes $700,000,000 from general revenues, and the balance from the trust fund.  The Committee recommends the budget request of $71,556,000 for the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Program, a decrease of $944,000 below the fiscal year 1999 enacted level.  The Committee directs that not less than 85 percent of these funds be provided to the States and tribal governments.  The Committee recommends $15,000,000 for the oilspill response trust fund, the same as the fiscal year 1999 enacted level and a decrease of $618,000 below the budget request.  The Committee recommends an appropriation of $3,250,000,000 for State and tribal assistance grants, an increase of $412,043,000 over the budget request and a decrease of $158,050,000 below the fiscal year 1999 enacted level.  The Committee has included bill language which prohibits the EPA Administration from awarding any funds to a non-profit organization unless such an organization has certified that it has not used federal funds to engage in litigation against the United States.

NASA:

The Committee recommends the budget request of $13,578,400,000 for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for fiscal year 2000.  Because of significant and continuing concerns with the cost overruns, last year's conference report (House Report 105-769) required NASA to include separate account for the International Space Station.  These concerns continue and, therefore, the Committee has not provided funds for the "Human space flight" account.  Instead, the Committee has created two new accounts detailed below.  The Committee has provided $2,482,700,000 for the International Apace Station program.  This amount is consistent with the President's request for these activities in fiscal year 2000.  The Committee recommends an appropriation of $3,156,000,000 for the space shuttle and payload utilization activities.  This amount is $700,000 above the President's budget request for these activities, and includes $2,986,7000 for space shuttle operations and $169,100,000 for payload utilization and operations.  The Committee recommends $5,424,700,000 for the Science, Aeronautics and Technology account, the same as the President's request and $229,200,000 below the fiscal year 1999 enacted level.  This funding recommendation includes $2,076,600,000 for Space Science, $256,200,000 for Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications, $1,459,100,000 for Earth Science, $1,106,500,000 for Aero-Space TEchnology, $406,300,000 for Mission Communication Services, and $120,000,000 for Academic Programs.  NASA is directed to make adjustments with each of the six identified enterprises with this account to accommodate the stated funding priorities and submit these adjustments as part of its fiscal year 2000 operating plan.  The Committee has provided $2,495,000,000 for mission support activities.  This amount is $100,000 above the President's budget request for these activities.  The Committee recommends $20,000,000 for fiscal year 2000, $800,00 below the President's budget request.  The Committee believes that the NASA IG must be much more proactive in identifying areas of concern at NASA as well as alerting Congress with regards to these concerns.  The Committee directs the NASA IG to prioritize its activities to ensure the security of NASA programs and technologies and to ensure the appropriate use of funds by NASA contractors and grantees.  In particular, these are significant costs overrun and expensing issues associated with the International Space Station as well as a number of other programs.  It is critical that controls be instituted that ensure that all costs are appropriate and that NASA is receiving an adequate return on these taxpayer investments.

House
With $3.5 billion less to work with than last year, new VA/HUD subcommittee chairman Rep. James Walsh (R-NY) faced a difficult task in putting together his spending bill. The subcommittee marked up a bill on July 26, and the full committee passed the bill on August 2. The bill contains essentially flat funding for NSF, major cuts for NASA, and a slight increase for EPA.

NSF: From NASULGC:

The Subcommittee recommended $3.647 billion for NSF for FY 2000, which is about $24 million below the FY 1999 appropriation and $274.6 million below the level requested by the President for FY 2000. For NSF's research and related activities account, $2778.5 million was provided, $8.5 million above the FY99 level. The subcommittee provided $35M for information technology research In the computer and information science and engineering directorate and $35M for biocomplexity. Because of the budget constraints, the subcommittee deferred support for NSF's opportunity fund for FY 2000. In addition, the subcommittee r included recommended funding levels for each of the research directorates: $391 million for BIO; $312.67 million for CISE; $369 million for ENG; $473 million for GEO; $735 million for MPS; $138 million for SBE; $183 million for U.S. Polar Research Programs; $62.6 million for U.S. Antarctic Logistical Support Activities; and $114.23 million for Integrative Activities. The education and human resources account is funded at $660 million - a reduction of $2M below the FY 99 level. The subcommittee's recommendations include: $114.2 million for Educational System Reform; $48.41 million for EPSCOR; $193.52 million for Elementary and Secondary and Informal Education; $103.54 million for Undergraduate Education; $69.65 million for Graduate Education; $73.68 million for Human Resource Development; and $57 million for Research, Evaluation, and Communication. The major research equipment account is funded at $56.5M with the reduction from the request driven largely by deferring funding for the terascale computing system. The subcommittee did provide $7.5 million to begin the acquisition of a high altitude research aircraft, plus the requested funds for the start up of the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), the modernization of the South Pole research station, the Large Hadron Collider, the millimeter array, and the upgrade of polar support aircraft.

NASA: Overall, NASA received $12.7 billion or $1 billion (7.4 percent) less than in FY1999. The account containing NASA's Office of Earth Science received a $849 million cut. The Earth Science program would receive $1.2 billion, down $240 million or 17 percent below FY 1999. In addition to eliminating the Triana satellite program -- viewed as a pet project of Vice President Gore -- the bulk of the cuts would affect the Earth Observing System (EOS) and the EOS Data Information System program. For more on the NASA portion of the House bill, see AGU alert 99-21.

EPA: The agency as a whole would receive $7.3 billion, which is $106 million above the President's request. According to NASULGC:

The bill funds the Clean Water Act State revolving fund at $1.175 billion, adding $325 million to the Administration's request, but $175 million less than FY 1999. The State Drinking Water Revolving fund was funded at last year's level of $775 million, $25 million less than the Administration's request. The Climate Change Technology Initiative was halved to $115 million, $111 million less than the request. For Global Climate Change Research, the Subcommittee provided an increase of $1 million, to $18 million, but no funds can be spent to implement the Kyoto Treaty. Clinton's new Clean Air Partnership fund, which would provide for community-based clean air programs, received $41.4 million, a sharp drop from the $200 million request. Superfund would receive $1.45 billion, $5 billion under the Administration's request and last year's level. The Science and Technology account received $645 million, $2.5 million above the request, and $15 million below last year's figure.


Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, Environment and Energy Weekly, National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, National Journal's Greenwire, Library of Congress, Department of Interior website, Washington Post, and the American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News.

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

Contributed by David Applegate and Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs Program

Posted June 27, 1999; Last Updated December 8, 1999


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