Most Recent Action    President's Request   Budget Process   Budget Chart   Appropriations Bills 

Overview of Fiscal Year 2002 Geoscience Appropriations (12-19-01)

Post-presidential election budget years often bring a new dimension to the annual appropriations process, and this year is no different.  Required by law to submit some type of budget to Congress before the end of February, President George W. Bush released A Blueprint for New Beginnings that outlined broad-budget priorities.  This blueprint provided an early look at a budget that would cap discretionary spending growth at 4% -- meaning that federal investment in science research and development (R&D) would not see a second year of booming increases.  As the detailed numbers of Bush's fiscal year (FY) 2002 budget were released in early April (with the exception of the Department of Defense that was delayed due to an internal review on funding priorities), it became clear that R&D funding for non-biomedical science programs would remain flat at best or, in the cases of the Department of Energy's Office on Fossil Energy and the US Geological Survey's Water Resources programs, would see deep cuts.  As is often the case with post-election budgets, Bush's request focused primarily on campaign promises and priorities -- biomedical research, defense funding, tax breaks, and education reform.

To add to the complexity of this year's budget process, both chambers of Congress are almost evenly split between the parties, Congress has passed a major tax package, the economy is showing signs of slowing, and the Senate has recently switched control from the Republicans to the Democrats.  All these factors will play into how the House, the Senate, and the President work out their differences on budgets, surpluses, and federal funding for a range of programs.  It is now up to Congress to develop its own version of the thirteen appropriation bills, which will eventually determine the final numbers for the FY 2002 allocations to the federal agencies and programs.

FY 2002 Appropriations Bills

  Energy & Water 
 (USGS, DOE-Fossil) 
Library of Congress Table on Current Status of FY 2002 Appropriations Bills

Most Recent Action
President Bush approved the seventh Continuing Resolution (H. J. Res. 78) that will fund the remaining federal programs until December 21th.  Transportation and the District of Columbia bills were passed by both chambers and now awaits presidential approval.  Appropriators filed the Labor/HHS Appropriations Conference Report (H. Rept 107-342).  The bill also includes funding for the Department of Education (DoEd).   (12/19/01)

Labor/HHS Appropriations
After months of conference meetings, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) House-Senate Conference Committee passed a compromised bill.  FY 2002 funding for the DoEd programs was being delayed until the authorizing legislation was passed.  Unfortunately, the funding for science education is not good news.  As reported in an Action Alert on December 10, appropriators did not allocate an amount anyplace close to the $450 million authorized in the ESEA legislation.  Report (H. Rept. 107-342) language for the partnerships begins by stating the planned allocation of $12.5 million, then continues in the following paragraph by stating: "The conferees note that, although this is a separate program designed specifically for the development of high quality math and science professional development opportunities, in no way do the conferees intend to discourage the Secretary and States from using other federal funding for math and science instructional improvement programs.  The conferees strongly urge the Secretary and States to utilize funding provided by the Teacher Quality Grant program, as well as other programs funded by the federal government, to strengthen math and science education programs across the Nation."  Now that Congress has passed H.R. 3061, it has been sent to the White House for the president's signature, which is expected before the end of the year.  More information on the two reports are available at AGI's Update on FY2002 Labor/HHS Appropriations.   (12/19/01)

Commerce Appropriations   Enacted into law (P.L. 107-77) on November 28, 2001
The House-Senate Conference Committee completed its action on H.R. 2500, the FY2002 Commerce Appropriations bill, by filing its report (H. Rept. 107-278) on November 9th.  The final version of the bill, which passed the House in a 411-15 vote and passed the Senate in a 98-1 vote, provides $3.3 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  This funding levels represents a 3% increase from the budget request.  Funding for the Operations, Research and Facilities (ORF) account, which totaled $2.3 billion, includes $223 million for conservation activities. Within the ORF account, the National Ocean Service is up 14% to total $414 million, the Oceanic & Atmospheric Research area is up 8% to total $356 million, the National Weather Service is up 2% to total $672 million, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service is up 6% to total $140 million.  More information available at AGI's Update on FY2002 Commerce Appropriations.    (11/16/01)

VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations  Enacted into law (P.L. 107-73) on November 26, 2001
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 was provided $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.  More details on the final version of the bill is available at AGI's Update on FY2002 VA/HUD and Independent Agnecies. (11/8/01)

Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations  Enacted into law (P.L. 107-63) on November 5, 2001
The House and Senate passed H.R. 2217, the FY 2002 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, on October 17th.  No amendments were offered during floor consideration in either chamber.  Several of the contentious issues that were added to earlier versions of the bill were removed in Conference Committee -- including language on Lease Sale 181 in the Gulf of Mexico and a provision regarding hardrock mining regulations on public lands.  The House passed the bill in a 380-28 vote, and the Senate passed it in a 95-3 vote.  Now that Congress has passed the bill, it awaits presidential approval, which is expected in the next few days.  When it was all said and done, the geoscience-related programs within the Interior bill fared well.  The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will receive $914 million, more than was provided by either the House or Senate version of the bill and a 12% increase over the president's budget request. The Department of Energy's Fossil Energy programs will receive close to $583 million, a 30% increase above the budget request.  More information available at AGI's Update on FY2002 Interior Appropriations.    (10/19/01)

Energy and Water Appropriations    Enacted into law (P.L. 107-66) on November 12, 2001
The House-Senate Conference Committee completed its action on H.R. 2311, the FY2002 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, on October 30th.  Both chambers passed the revised bill the following day.  The Senate vote was 96-2, and the House passed the bill  by a 399-29 vote.  The Department of Energy (DOE) is allocated $19.5 billion, which includes $396 million for renewable energy activities and $3.2 billion for science programs.  Basic Energy Sciences, which is within the DOE Office of Science, received the requested $1 billion.  Funding for nuclear waste disposal totals $375 million, which includes $280 million from the Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal account.  Funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers totals $4.5 billion, and funding for the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation totals $914 million.  The President signed the bill into law on November 12th.  More information is available at AGI's Update on FY2002 Energy and Water Appropriations(11/16/01)

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, 302(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 FY2002 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.  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 302(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 FY2002 Budget Request,, Library of Congress, EENews Publications, House Committee on Appropriations website, and Senate Committee on Appropriations website.

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

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

Posted July 10, 2001; Last Updated December 19, 2001


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