Most Recent Action   President's Request    Appropriations Process   Hearing Summaries 

Update on FY2002 VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations (11-17-01)

The Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies (VA/HUD) Appropriations bill (H.R. 2620, S. 1216) funds several geoscience-related programs, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The President's budget request for the entire VA/HUD bill was $83.36 billion.  The key section for earth scientists at NSF is the Geoscience Directorate.  Overall, NSF requested a 1.3% increase over fiscal year (FY) 2001 enacted levels, yet key legislators in both houses would like to see NSF's budget increased substantially.  At NASA, the Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) hosts the majority of geoscience activities.  ESE requested $1.5 billion for FY 2002 --  a 2% increase from last year.  With the Bush Administration seeking to cap discretionary funding at 4%, money for science related activities is not likely to increase substantially in this budget.

Most Recent Action
The VA/HUD Conference Committee completed action on November 6th. The bill (H.R. 2620) easily passed both houses, with the House passing it by a 401-18 vote and the Senate passing it in an 87-7 vote.  Under the conference report, NSF will receive $4.8 billion, an 8.2% increase over FY 2001's level of $4.4 billion. Research and Related Activities will receive $3.6 billion within which, the Geosciences Directorate will receive $611 million, and polar programs will receive "up to $300 million." The Education and Human Resources directorate will receive $875 million, including $160 million for the Math and Science Partnership Initiative. The Major Research Equipment account is funded at $138 million. Projects funded in that account include the Large Hadron Collider ($16.9 million), National Earthquake Engineering Simulation ($24.4 million), High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) aircraft ($35 million), Terascale Computing Systems ($35 million), Icecube Neutrino Detection Project ($15 million), and Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope ($12.5 million).

Also in the conference report, EPA will be provided with $7.9 billion, a nearly 1% increase over FY 2001 and over 7% higher than the Bush Administration's request.  The agency's Science and Technology programs will receive $698 million, over 8% more than the White House request.  EPA's Environmental Programs and Management Account saw an almost 2% decrease from FY 2001, receiving $2.05 billion from the conferees.  Staying at FY 2001 levels, Superfund is given at $1.27 billion, of which $95 million will go to the brownfields program.  Lawmakers provided $1.35 billion to the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund and $850 million to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.  Section 319 non-point source pollution grants will be $237 million, Sections 105 and 103 state and local air quality grants get $222 million, and $10 million will go toward new water quality monitoring on the nation's beaches.  No amendments were considered during the conference and the only controversy associated with the EPA segment of H.R. 2620 had to do with concern over the potential $1 billion in new costs to some small communities as a result of EPA's recently announced new arsenic standard of 10 parts per billion. (11/8/01)


 House Action   Senate Action   Conference Action 

House Action
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Related Agencies marked up the VA/HUD appropriations bill on July 10th.  According to the press release, geoscience related agencies within the appropriations bill all would receive increased funding, compared to the budget request, under the House version.  Funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be $283 million less than the FY2001 level but would increase by 3% from the budget request.  The Science and Technology line item for EPA would receive $680 million, an increase of 6% from last year's allocation.  Like last year, the emphasis is on state grants, particularly in the areas of clean water and safe drinking water.  The Superfund program would be funded at last year's level of $1.27 billion.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would receive a total of $14.9 billion for the agency, which would be an increase of nearly 5% over last year's allocation.  According to the House report, the Science, Aeronautics and Technology line item would receive an increase of close to 6% to total $7.6 billion.  Within this amount, the Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) would receive $1.5 billion, which is a slight increase from the requested level.  In what has became an annual event, ESE has restructured its budget, making direct comparison to last year's allocation difficult.  The Earth Observing System (EOS) follow-on program would receive total of $99.6 million, a 23% decrease from the request but close to double last year's allocation.  Despite the budget request for no funding to the Triana Science team, the House would give $1 million for work towards a future launch.  Earth Science Program Science, which includes funding for EOS science and the mission science teams, would receive a total of $356 million, a slight decrease from the requested amount.

Funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) would increase by $414 million from last year's level to total $4.8 billion.  This increase represents an increase of nearly 9.5 % over the budget request, which was up slightly from the historic level of $4.4 billion allocated last year to the agency.  Within the NSF, funding for the different directorates would total $3.6 billion, an increase of nearly 9% from last year.  Directorates of key interest to the geosciences faired well in the House version, with the Geoscience Directorate, which had requested $559 million, would receive $613 million (up 7%), and the United States Polar Programs, which requested $277 million, would receive $299 million (up 9%).  Overall, the other directorates were up by around nine percent from the requested levels.  The other directorates by the numbers: Biological Science would receive $529 million, Computer and Information Science and Engineering would be allocated $521 million, Engineering would total $469 million, Mathematics and Physical Sciences would total $927 million,  Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences would receive $179 million, and the Integrated Activities would total $106 million.

The Major Research Equipment (MRE) account would receive $135 million, up 11% over FY 2001 and 41% higher than the amount requested.  Recommendations in this account include $24.4 million for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation and $35 million for the continued development of the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER).  Also, the committee wants to better define the activities within this account by renaming it the "Major Research Facilities Construction and Equipment."

NSF's Education and Human Resources (EHR) division was marked for an increase and internal reorganization based upon the President's proposed reforms for elementary and secondary education in the nation's public schools.  The budget request included an increase of nearly 11% for EHR, and the House Appropriations Committee was able to boost the requested number to total $886 million, an increase of a little more than 12% from last year's level.

On July 17th, the House Committee on Appropriations approved the VA/HUD bill (H.R. 2620).  Funding levels for the key earth science programs remained basically the same as at the levels reported out of the subcommittee.  A major amendment that would provide $1.3 billion in emergency funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was adopted, but then delayed by the Full Committee.  On July 30th, the House passed its version of the VA/HUD appropriations bill (H.R. 2620) in a 336-89 vote.  The Senate has already begun the process of considering its version of the spending bill.  Once both chambers have completed their consideration, they will meet in conference to reconcile differences between the two versions.

Administrative Response
In response to the House action, the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a Statement on Administration Policy (SAP) for the VA/HUD bill.  The administration generally expressed satisfaction the bill, in particular commending "the Committee for fully funding the President's request for the President's National Science Foundation Math and Science Partnerships initiative to strengthen elementary and secondary mathematics and science education."  The administration, however, did take issue with the level of earmarks for EPA, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.  Specifically the SAP stated:

. . .the Committee has chosen to fund five lower priority, unrequested projects within NSF for a total of $62 million. The Administration also has serious concerns with the over $150 million in earmarks in the Committee bill that would displace higher-priority, merit- and peer-reviewed, science and technology programs in NASA's Space Science, Earth Science, and Aerospace Technology Enterprises. For example, the Administration places higher priority on astronomical and climate change research than on the earmarks for museums, planetariums, and corporate jets.


Senate Action
On June 7th, a VA/HUD Subcommittee hearing was held to discuss funding for NSF in the FY 2002 budget.  The new Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Ranking Member Kit Bond (R-MO) repeatedly expressed their support for doubling NSF's budget over the next five years.  Also, they recognized the need for basic research funding to be more in-line with that given to the National Institute of Health (NIH).  In opening statements, Sens. Mikulski and Bond voiced their support for increasing the NSF budget beyond the 1.3% requested by the Bush Administration.  Mikulski noted that of approximately 30,000 research proposals NSF receives each year, only 9,000 are funded.  Both she and Bond recognized the value of funding basic research, making reference to a "Dear Colleague" letter they sponsored that calls for doubling the NSF budget.  Other science administrators, including the former director of NIH and the science advisor to President George H. Bush, agree with the need to double the NSF budget.  Bond also mentioned his concern about support for smaller research institutions, the current state of the peer review system, and efforts to include more opportunities for women and minorities.  He also emphasized his interest in supporting biotechnology programs.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the VA/HUD Appropriations bill (S. 1216) on July 19th.  According to the Senate Report (S. Rept. 107-43), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would receive a total of  $7.51 billion, an increase of nearly 7% from the budget request and slightly lower than last year's allocation.  The Science and Technology line item, which includes contracts and grants for science on which regulations are based, would receive a 4% increase from the request to total $665.7 million.  Specific recommendations for Science and Technology included funding for several environmental research programs and studies of metals and mine waste in the environment.  Funding for Superfund would see a slight increase to total $1.27 billion.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would receive a total of $14.6 billion, a minor increase over the requested level and 2% more than last year's level.  Funding for the different programs under the Science, Aeronautics and Technology line item would receive a total increase of nearly 7% over the budget request to total $7.7 billion.  The report language did not break down the total for the Earth Science Enterprise (ESE), instead it listed only specific funding changes within ESE.  The Earth Observing System (EOS) follow-on program would receive an increase of nearly 6% to total $137 million.  Other specific report language discussed funding for joint programs with universities around the nation.

Despite strong support from Sens. Mikulski and Bond to double the National Science Foundation's (NSF) budget over the next decade, the Senate would be able to provide only a 5.6% increase over the budget request.  This increase would bring the NSF total budget to $4.67 billion.  Within the NSF budget, $3.5 billion would go towards the Research and Related Activities line item and $109 million would go towards the Major Research Equipment (MRE) account.  The Senate MRE allocation is $26.5 million less than the House allocation, but would provide $20 million more than the House for the Terascale Computing System.  In other MRE funding, the Senate would provide only $50 million of the $389 million requested for nanoscale science and information technology research, and would provide just $25 million of the requested $75 million for major research instrumentation..  The VA/HUD Appropriations Committee would allocate $12.5 million for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), $16.9 million for the Large Hadron Collider, and $24 million for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation.  Additionally, the Senate bill recommends $10 million to "review the feasibility" of acquiring the Homestake Mine in South Dakota as a "world-class underground laboratory for physics, geology, and extreme biology."

The Education and Human Resources program at NSF would receive $872.4 million, 11% more than the budget request and $86 million more than current funding.  The Office of Innovation Partnerships received $15 million, along with report language stating that "the Committee is adamant that the Foundation should support this effort."  EPSCoR is also strongly supported in the Senate bill with a total of $110 million available for its activities.  Further, the Senate Appropriations Committee had dedicated $20 million for a "new undergraduate work initiative" and $15 million to increase graduate student stipends.

On August 2nd, the Senate approved its VA/HUD appropriations bill (S. 1216) in a 94-5 vote.  The two chambers will now meet to develop a compromise bill.

Administrative Response
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) that mentions a few concerns with the Senate VA/HUD Appropriations Bill.  Regarding NSF, the administration made the following statement:

We appreciate the Committee's efforts to fund NSF programs at the President's request level. However, the Administration is concerned that the Committee did not fully fund the President's Math and Science Partnerships initiative and that $60 million of the total for the initiative is derived from mandatory H-1B nonimmigrant petitioner receipts. Diverting these mandatory funds would displace funding for other important K-12 math and science education programs, such as the After School Centers for Explorations and New Discovery, which provide out-of-school experiences in science and math for middle and high school students from under-represented groups.
OMB also had "serious concerns about the Committee's $150 million reduction to the International Space Station (ISS)," and raised objections to the number of earmarks for NASA and NSF in the committee bill:
The Administration is concerned that the Committee has chosen to fund six lower priority, unrequested projects within NSF for a total of $67 million. The Administration also has serious concerns with the bill's extensive earmarks for funding that would displace over $190 million in higher-priority NASA science and technology programs. For example, the bill cuts critical technology funding that would support the next decade of Mars missions, faster and more capable planetary missions, and lower-cost space transportation, while directing funding toward museums, planetariums, libraries, and college dormitories.  Earmarks for NASA in the Committee bill total $252 million, $38 million over last year's Senate version of the bill. The bill also partially funds missions the Administration canceled due to cost overruns or schedule delays. NASA will be unable to begin development of these missions because the bill only funds a small fraction of their total cost. We urge the Senate to minimize the amount of unrequested projects and fully restore funding to higher-priority programs in NASA's Space Science, Earth Science, and Aerospace Technology Enterprises.

Conference Action
Senate conferees included Senators Christopher Bond (R-MO), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Larry Craig (R-ID), Mike Dewine (R-OH), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), James Inofe (R-OK), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Herbert Kohl (D-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbra Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Ted Stevens (R-AK) to the Conference Committee.  House members include Representatives: Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Robert Cramer (D-AL), Tom DeLay (R-TX), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Virgil Goode (I-VA), David Hobson (R-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI), Carrie Meek (D-FL), Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Anne Northup (R-KY), David Obey (D-WI), David Price (D-NC), John Sununu (R-NH), James Walsh (R-NY), and C.W. Young (R-FL).

On November 6th, the House-Senate Conference Committee released its report (H. Rept. 107-272) on the finalized appropriations bill for the FY2002 VA/HUD and Independent Agencies bill (H.R. 2620).  Two days later, the Senate passed the bill in an 87-7 vote and the House passed it by a 401-18 vote.  The bill now is passed on to the White House for presidential approval.  Overall, funding for science activities in the bill fared well. EPA received $7.9 billion, NSF received $4.8 billion, and NASA received $14.8 billion.

Last year's funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) was a record high, and the good news is that Congress has improved that number again this year.  Totaling $4.8 billion, this funding level is an 8.2% increase above last year's level and a 7% increase above the budget request.  Research and Related Activities received a total of $3.6 billion, which includes $611 million for the Geoscience Directorate, $230 million for the U.S. Polar Research programs, and $68 million for the U.S. Antarctic Logistical Support activities.  The final version of the bill does not include funding for the Homestake Mine site in Lead, South Dakota.  Instead, the report notes that funding for the site is available under a separate title of the bill, because, in the committee's opinion, until the site is determined to be suitable for the proposed research, it should not be the agency's responsibility to maintain it.  The $611 million available to the Geoscience Directorate marks an increase of 9% above the budget request.  Details about the specific break down between the atmospheric sciences, ocean sciences, and earth sciences was not available in the conference report, meaning that NSF will have some discretion as to how allocate the money.  The Major Research Equipment (MRE) account is funded at $138 million. Projects funded in that account include the Large Hadron Collider ($16.9 million), National Earthquake Engineering Simulation ($24.4 million), High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) aircraft ($35 million), Terascale Computing Systems ($35 million), Icecube Neutrino Detection Project ($15 million), and Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope ($12.5 million).  NSF's Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate received $875 million, which includes $160 million for the Math and Science Partnership Initiative.  This program is relatively new and Congress has been working on legislation to codify the program.  EHR also includes funding for graduate student stipends that would help increase the annual stipend to a total of $21,500 per awardee.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will receive a grand total of $7.9 billion, which the House Appropriations Committee notes is focused primarily on state grants in the areas of clean water and safe drinking water programs.  This funding level is over 7% more than the original budget request for the agency.  EPA's Science and Technology programs will be funded at $698 million, which marks an increase from both the House and the Senate proposed numbers and an 8% increase over the budget request.  Report language for the science and technology programs included several specific increases, including a $1 million increase for the Center for the Study of Minerals in the Environment and a $500,000 increase for ground water contamination research at the University of New Hampshire.  The Environmental Programs and Management line item is reported to receive a grand total of nearly $2.1 billion, a 2% decrease from last year's funding level.  Within this section, the conference committee included a section on the EPA's draft report on implementing a total maximum daily load (TMDL) program, which the committee believes is greatly lacking in explaining the expenses of this program for states and small businesses. Staying at FY2001 levels, Superfund is provided $1.27 billion, of which $98 million will go to the brownfields program and close to $37 million will go towards research and development activities.  The Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) program will receive $73 million, and oil spill response activities will receive $15 million.  Lawmakers provided $1.35 billion to the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund and $850 million to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.  Funding for local air quality grants, under sections 103 and 105 of the Clean Air Act, will total $222 million, and funding for the non-point source pollution grants will be $237 million.

Total funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will be $14.8 billion, which is an increase above both the requested level and last year's funding level.  Human space flight activities received $6.9 billion and the space science section of the Science, Aeronautics, and Technology line item received $2.8 billion.  The report language requests that NASA divide the "aerospace technology" programs so that it is clear what the current investment in aeronautics is.  Within the space science heading, the Sun-Earth Connections program for Living with a Star totals $50 million. Biological and Physical Research programs received $714 million.  Earth Science within NASA will be funded at $1.6 billion, an increase of 4% above the budget request and nearly 6% above last year's allocation.  Within this funding, there will be a $1 million increase above the budget request for the Triana mission, which is ready for launch but has been delayed because of shuttle scheduling issues.  Education activities at NASA will total $ 231 million.

Despite the administration's plan to reorganize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the agency came out ahead with a total funding of $2.2 billion for disaster relief.  The conference committee also included two new provisions in the final report: one would transfer $25 million to the pre-disaster mitigation account and the second would transfer $25 million to the flood map modernization fund.


Sources: House Appropriations Committee website, Senate Appropriations Committee website, USBudget.com, EENews Publications, NSF website, NASA website, EPA website, CNSF, American Institute of Physics FYI Bulletin of Science Policy News, and the Library of Congress.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Contributed by Margaret Baker, Government Affairs Program, and 2001 AGI/AIPG Summer Geoscience Policy Intern Chris Eisinger.

Posted September 18, 2001; Last Updated November 17, 2001


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