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Update on Fiscal Year 2001 Science Appropriations (1-2-01)

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

President Clinton released his proposed budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2001 on February 7th -- the last full budget cycle of this Administration.  As expected from the President's earlier remarks at Caltech and his State of the Union Address, federal funding for science agencies and programs received a generous boost in the FY2001 request.  For the geosciences, the big winners were the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) -- up 17 percent  and 10 percent, respectively -- winning their largest dollar increases.  Most of the science agencies are up in this budget request.  NOAA is requesting a 20% increase, and EPA's request is up nearly 10%.  With the theme "Strength Through Science," the Department of Energy Research and Development budget request has an 8% increase. R&D at the Department of Agriculture would increase 3.1%. Within this rosy picture, however, there area few down notes including a proposed 3% decrease for earth science at NASA and a proposed 8.2 percent decrease in upstream petroleum R&D within DOE with major shifts in funding to more downstream natural gas research.  Clinton's total request for FY2001 is $1.84 trillion, which includes close to $43.3 billion in non-defense research and development, a 6.2 percent increase over last year.

Turning these projected increases into real federal investments will take a great deal of effort from the geoscience community.  As in most years, Congress and the Administration do not often see eye-to-eye when it comes to budgets, surpluses, and federal funding for a range of programs.  It is now up to Congress to develop their own version of the thirteen appropriation bills, which will eventually determine the final numbers for the FY 2001 allocations to the federal agencies and programs.


FY 2001 Appropriations Bills

   Commerce 
(NOAA) 
  Energy & Water 
(DOE) 
Interior
(USGS, DOE-Fossil) 
  Labor/HHS 
 (Education) 
   Agriculture 
(USDA) 
VA/HUD 
 (NSF, EPA, NASA) 
Library of Congress Table on Current Status of FY 2001 Appropriations Bills

Most Recent Action
Because Congress headed home for the final campaign push with its work unfinished, they were forced to return for a "lame duck" session after the election -- the first such session since 1994.  That session in turn was delayed and then extended during the long period of uncertainty surrounding the presidential election. The decision to hold a lame duck session came after negotiations between the White House and Republican leaders in Congress broke down following a presidential veto of the Treasury and Legislative appropriations bills. When they left, Congress has passed 12 of the 13 obligatory appropriation bills, and Clinton has signed seven of these into law.  Until all bills were completed, a long series of continuing resolutions (CR) provided continued funding for federal programs at the FY 2000 level for those agencies still without FY 2001 funding.

The remaining bills of interest to the geosciences were Commerce/Justice/State/Judiciary, which funds NOAA, and Labor/HHS, which funds science education programs. Compromise was finally struck in mid-December, allowing all of the remaining bills to be completed on December 15th as part of an omnibus package that included Labor/HHS, Legislative Branch, and Treasury-Postal, and a final version of the joint Commerce-District of Columbia bill.

Commerce Appropriations
Signed into law (P.L. 106-553) on December 26, 2000.

The final NOAA numbers are available at  http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/approps_commerce2001.html.

President Clinton threatened to veto the Conference Committee version of the FY 2001 Commerce Appropriations bill on October 26th.  In a letter to the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate, Clinton said, "Although neither my Administration nor virtually any Member of Congress has had an opportunity to review this bill, it is our understanding that it fails to adequately address a number of high priority issues that the Administration has previously brought to your attention.  Therefore, I have no choice but to veto this bill."  The Conference Committee released its version of H.R. 4690 on October 25th, and both chambers passed the bill in a partisan vote -- Senate 206-198 vote and House 49-43 vote.  Returning to an idea that Congress tried earlier in the appropriations process, Congress has started coupling appropriations bills.  This two-by-two approach helps speed up passing bills by limiting the time allotted for floor debate on bills.  The FY 2001 Commerce bill was attached to the FY 2001 District of Columbia Appropriations bill.  Details from the Conference Report (H. Rept. 106-1005) sections covering NOAA are available http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/approps_commerce2001.html.

Overall, the conference numbers are close to the request amount among the the different sections but the subsections are funded with a different emphasis than the budget request.  NOAA received a total of $2.63 billion, a 4.2% decrease from the president's $2.74 billion.  According to the Senate Appropriations Committee press release on the report, once funding from other provisions 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).

VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations
Signed into law (P.L. 106-337) on October 27, 2000.

The long awaited Conference Committee report (H. Rept. 106-988) on the FY 2001 VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill was released on October 18th.  VA/HUD had been stalled by intraparty squabbling and partisan differences.  The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up H.R. 4635 at the beginning of September, but the bill was not debated on the floor of the Senate until October 12th.  Part of the hold up was due to Senate Democrats who insisted that instead of sending the VA/HUD and Commerce appropriation bills directly to conference without Senate floor debate -- an idea the Republican leadership was pushing to help speed up the appropriations process -- both bills must be debated on the Senate floor before either can go into conference committee.  On October 19th, both chambers voted on the VA/HUD bill that also included the legislative language from the previously vetoed Energy & Water Appropriations bill.  The Senate passed the combined bill in a 85-8 vote, and the House passed it in a 386-24 vote.

For the most part, the conference report has good news for geoscience programs.  The NSF, which had requested a record 17% increase, was funded at $4.43 billion, down from the budget request of $4.6 billion but still well above the $3.9 billion received in FY 2000.  Unfortunately, the EarthScope initiative within the Major Research Equipment budget did not receive any funding for FY 2001.  According to the Conference Report, "Budget constraints have forced the conferees to not approve funding for two new starts for fiscal year 2001 under major research equipment, the U.S. Array and San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth, and the National Ecological Observatory Network.  This decision was made without prejudice and does not reflect on the quality of research proposed to be developed through these two programs."  NASA received a total allocation of $14.3 billion, including $1.5 billion for the Earth Science Enterprise.  The EPA received $7.8 billion, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) received $2.2 billion.  Details from the Conference Report on specific programs are available http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/approps_interior2001.html.

Energy and Water Appropriations
Signed into law (P.L. 106-337) on October 27, 2000.

President Clinton vetoed H.R. 4733 on October 7th over objectionable anti-environmental riders, primarily the provision regarding the revision of the Army Corps of Engineer's 1960 Missouri River Master Water Control Manual.  The House of Representatives easily overrode the veto in a 315-98 vote on October 11th.  The Senate was well short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto, so Senate leaders decided to remove the objectionable language and attach the revised Energy & Water bill to the FY 2001 VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill.  Funding levels for geoscience programs within the Energy & Water bill remained the same in the revised bill as in the original H.R. 4733 Conference Committee Report (H. Rept. 106-907).  On October 19th the House and the Senate passed the combined Energy & Water and VA/HUD bill in 386-24 and 85-8 votes, respectively.  Details of the conference report (H. Rept. 106-907) and press releases are available http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/approps_energy2001.html.

Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations
Signed into law (P.L. 106-291) on October 11, 2000.

President Clinton signed the FY 2001 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 4578) into law on October 11th (P.L. 106-291).  At the event Clinton said that the bill is "a remarkable piece of legislation that provides a lasting legacy for our grandchildren by establishing for the first time a dedicated and protected fund that states, communities and federal agencies can use to buy and protect precious federal land -- from neighborhood parks to Civil War battlefields, to parcels of pristine wilderness."  The House passed H.R. 4578 in a 348-69 vote on October 3rd, and the Senate passed the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill in a 83-13 vote two days later.  Details from the final conference report are available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/approps_interior2001.html.

Just before leaving for the Rosh Hashanah recess, the Interior and Related Agencies Conference Committee filed its report for H.R. 4578.  In total, the Department of the Interior (DOI) received $8.38 billion, including $1.7 billion for the Bureau of Land Management, $964 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, $1.94 billion for the National Park Service, $139.5 million for the Minerals Management Service, and $303.5 million for the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.  The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) fared well, receiving $862 million, less than the $895 million requested but better than the $817 million proposed in the House and the $848 million in the Senate.  By the numbers: the National Mapping Division would receive $129 million, the Geologic Division would receive $221 million, the Water Resources Division would receive $197 million, and the Biological Resources Division would receive $158 million.  The conference report states that funding for geologic mapping will received $0.5 million above the $0.5 million increase proposed by the House.  Department of Energy Fossil Fuels activities received a total of $1.457 billion, including $317.7 million for Clean Coal Technology programs, $56.02 million for Oil Technology, $433.7 million for Fossil Fuel Research and Development, and $174.7 million for industry sector programs.

Agriculture Appropriations
Signed into law on October 28, 2000.

The House passed the FY 2001 Agriculture Appropriations bill in a 340-75 vote on October 11th.  Just days later, the Senate passed the bill in a 86-8 vote.  The President is expected to sign the bill by the end of the week, despite several objectionable provisions in the bill.  A provision that has gained attention lately has been one that would lift sanctions in several countries, particularly Cuba, to open these markets for American agricultural products.  A White House Office of Management and Budget Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) stated that the administration has two major concerns over the Cuban provision.  First, the legislative language would restrict the President's power to supervise sanctions and is "overly stringent."  Second, the section of the provision that would codify limited travel of Americans to Cuba "would significantly set back our people-to-people exchanges that are in the interest of opening up Cuban society."

After a long negotiation process, the Conference Committee released its report (H. Rept. 106-948) on the FY 2001 Ag bill on October 6, 2000.  USDA received a grand total of $15 billion in discretionary spending from the Conference Committee.  This amount is less than either the FY 2000 level or the President's request.  Funding for agriculture research did receive a slight boost from last year's allocation to total nearly $2 billion -- $899 million for Agriculture Research Service programs and $506 million for Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service projects.  More details on the report and the Administration's response to the bill is available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/approps_ag2001.html.


As in years past, the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Project website has information on trends in federal research and development funding, including information on the President's request, congressional budget resolution, 602(b) allocations, and each science-related appropriations bill.  Also, the American Institute of Physics and the American Geophysical Union have released e-mail alerts on the FY2001 budget request.  A chart of requests and funding levels for geoscience related agencies and programs is available off all the AGI budget summary pages.  Additional AGI analysis of the President's budget request and Congressional action is available on specific appropriations bill websites and these websites:


Budget Process
As it does each year, the appropriations process begins in February when the President submits his budget request to Congress.  This request has several constraints stemming from the 1997 balanced budget agreement, which set spending caps for future years, and by gimmicks used last year to appear to balance the budget -- such as placing some funding off-budget (meaning that it is not included in the FY2000 numbers) and other accounting ploys.  This year, the President's request supposedly does not use these accounting gimmicks or unlikely revenues (part of last year's request increases were off-set by a tobacco settlement that did not pan-out).  To avoid some of the last-minute games from previous years and the budget constraints, Clinton is proposing new caps for discretionary spending to replace the 1997 budget resolution caps.

After the President releases the budget request, the congressional Appropriations  and Budget Committees begin hearings on the budget.  These hearings allow members of the subcommittees to review in detail the President's proposal and generate language for the congressional budget resolution.  Each chamber will produce a budget resolution that the body puts to a floor vote.  Because the Senate and House versions of the budget are not the same, the two chambers will form a Joint Committee that will produce a Conference Report on the budget resolution.

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.

A March 1996 Geotimes Political Scene article summarizes the overall budget process and provides a flow-chart of the budget time-line.  Both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee have information on the budget process and federal spending.


Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science, President's FY2001 Budget Request, USBudget.com, Library of Congress, EENews Publications, House Committee on Appropriations website, and Senate Committee on Appropriations.

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

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

Posted May 25, 2000; Last Updated January 2, 2001


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