CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ALERT: Final Action on FY 2003 Appropriations Could Cut Geoscience Programs

(Posted 1-31-03)

This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

IN A NUTSHELL: With the president's release of the fiscal year (FY) 2004 budget looming, the Senate has passed legislation incorporating all 11 remaining FY 2003 appropriations bills. The omnibus package cuts funding by $10 billion below the levels considered (but not passed) by the Senate during the last Congress. Among the cuts, the U.S. Geological Survey would drop back to $888 million, well below its FY 2002 levels. The Department of Energy's Fossil Energy R&D program also would fall to levels below FY 2002. For the National Science Foundation, the Senate's omnibus bill eliminates the EarthScope project, which was requested by the president and funded in the previous House and Senate bills. The final FY 2003 funding levels will be determined by a House-Senate conference committee in the next several weeks. Now is the time to contact your member of Congress and encourage support for these and other geoscience programs. If you live in the district of a member of the House or Senate Appropriations Committees (listed below), these individuals particularly need to hear from constituents that geoscience programs are an important investment for the future.


The Senate has approved an omnibus budget package (H.J. Res. 2) that rolls together the 11 remaining fiscal year (FY) 2003 appropriations bills funding non-defense federal programs. Continuing resolutions have supported these agencies at FY 2002 levels since the new fiscal year began on October 1st. The final 69-29 vote on January 23rd capped nearly two weeks of debate during which more than 100 amendments were offered, many by Democrats seeking to restore funding for programs cut by $10 billion to make the package fit within the White House endorsed discretionary spending cap of $750 billion. The final Senate bill also contained a number of "riders", legislative provisions not directly related to spending levels. For example, provisions were included to continue bans on oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes and offshore California. Those provisions were introduced by Senators George Voinovich (R-OH) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), respectively. Also included was a provision sponsored by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to extend the president's authority to operate the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The dust is still settling on the actual funding levels for federal programs under the Senate version in part due to a series of cuts made to offset spending increases agreed upon in the last day of debate. Thus, the funding levels that appear in the bill are higher than what was actually approved. Provisions at the end of the legislation provide first a 1.6% cut across all programs, followed by a second 1.3% across-the-board cut. Until the House and Senate draft a final FY 2003 omnibus bill, there still remains the possibility of additional targeted cuts.

Geoscience Funding Levels

Details are still missing for many geoscience-related programs, in part because no accompanying explanatory report has been distributed at this point, but general numbers are available. Additional information, as it becomes available, at

The Senate omnibus bill would provide the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) with a total of $888 million for FY 2003 (the bill language shows $915 million, which is then subject to the combined 2.9% across-the-board cut). The FY 2003 Interior and Related Agencies bill (H.R. 5093) passed by the House in the last Congress would have provided USGS with $928 million. The president requested $867 million, and actual funding for FY 2002 was $914 million. Because agencies like the Survey have been operating at FY 2002 levels through the first four months of the new fiscal year, any cuts would be compressed into the remaining months, further increasing their severity.

The Senate provided the Department of Energy's Fossil Energy Research and Development activities with a total of $608 million ($626 million less the 2.9% cut). In last session's House-passed bill, the program would have received $664 million. Both levels are higher than the $548 million requested in the president's budget.

According to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, which has calculated how the across-the-board cuts will effect specific funding levels, the agency will receive a total of just under $5.2 billion under the Senate proposal. NSF's Research and Related Activities account, which funds the disciplinary directorates, would receive close to $4 billion, an increase of nearly 12% from last year's allocation. Within that, the Geosciences Directorate would receive $671 million, up 10%.

These increases for the research accounts, however, are offset by a cut of nearly 58% to the Major Research Equipment and Facilities (MREFC) account, slated to receive $58.5 million. This funding level does not include funds for any new initiatives, including EarthScope (, the first earth-science project to be considered for this account. The House bill from last Congress recommended $5.42 billion for NSF, including $159 million for the MREFC account of which $40 million was for EarthScope.

House-Senate Conference

A House-Senate conference committee will now take the Senate omnibus package and work out the final version. According to sources on the Hill, the conferees will begin meeting next week with the goal of finishing before the Presidents Day recess in February. The Senate has appointed all the members of its Appropriations Committee to the conference. The House conferees have not yet been named but are certain to consist of the more senior members of the House Appropriations Committee.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) has voiced concern that the conference will not be a smooth process, with the possibility that the House might not even take up the Senate bill if it is viewed to have too many legislative riders. Given that the government has been funded through a series of stop-gap measures for the first four months of the fiscal year, it seems unlikely that the House will flat out reject the Senate bill. But it does seem highly likely that the final bill will look very different than the current Senate omnibus legislation.

Action Needed

Please call, fax, or email your representative this week to urge then to support the funding levels for these geoscience-related programs in the House bills from last session, including support for including EarthScope within NSF.

The U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 will connect you to your representative's office. E-mail correspondence can be sent through and direct telephone numbers can be obtained at Below are the names, fax numbers and e-mail addresses, when available, for members of the House and Senate appropriations committees. If your representative or senator is a member of these committees, your action as a constituent is particularly needed.

List of House and Senate Appropriations Committee Members

Robert Aderholt (R-AL, 4th) 202/225-5587
Marion Berry (D-AR, 1st) 202/225-5602
Sanford Bishop, Jr. (D-GA, 2nd) 202/225-2203
Henry Bonilla (R-TX, 23rd) 202/226-1169
Allen Boyd (D-FL, 2nd) 202/225-5615
James Clyburn (D-SC, 6th) 202/225-2313
Bud Cramer, Jr. (D-AL, 5th) 202/225-4392
Ander Crenshaw (R-FL, 4th) 202/225-2504
John Abney Culberson (R-TX, 7th) 202/225-4381
Rosa DeLauro (D-CT, 3rd) 202/225-4890
Norman Dicks (D-WA, 6th) 202/226-1176
John Doolittle (R-CA, 4th) 202/225-5444
Chet Edwards (D-TX, 11th) 202/225-0350
Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO, 8th) 202/226-0326
Sam Farr (D-CA, 17th) 202/225-6791
Chaka Fattah (D-PA, 2nd) 202/225-5392
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ,11th) 202/225-3186
Virgil Goode (I-VA, 5th) 202/225-5681
Kay Granger (R-TX, 12th) 202/225-5683
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY, 26th) 202/226-0774
David Hobson (R-OH, 7th) 202/225-1984
Steny Hoyer (D-MD, 5th) 202/225-4300
Ernest Istook, Jr, (R-OK, 5th) 202/226-1463
Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL, 2nd) 202/225-0899
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH, 9th) 202/225-7711
Patrick Kennedy (D-RI, 1st) 202/225-3290
Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI, 15th) 202/225-5730
Jack Kingston (R-GA, 1st) 202/226-2269
Joe Knollenberg (R-MI, 11th) 202/226-2356
Jim Kolbe (R-AZ, 5th) 202/225-0378
Ray LaHood (R-IL, 18th) 202/225-9249
Tom Latham (R-IA, 5th) 202/225-3301
Jerry Lewis (R-CA, 40th) 202/225-6498
Nita Lowey (D-NY, 18th) 202/225-0546
Alan Mollohan (D-WV, 1st) 202/225-7564
James Moran (D-VA, 8th) 202/225-0017
John Murtha (D-PA, 12th) 202/225-5709
George Nethercutt, Jr. (R-WA, 5th) 202/225-3392
Anne Northup (R-KY, 3rd) 202/225-5776
David Obey (D-WI. 7th)
John Olver (D-MA, 1st) 202/226-1224
Ed Pastor (D-AZ, 2nd) 202/225-1655
John Peterson (R-PA, 5th) 202/225-5796
David Price (D-NC, 4th) 202/225-2014
Ralph Regula (R-OH, 16th) 202/225-3059
Harold Rogers (R-KY, 5th) 202/225-0940
Steven Rothman (D-NJ, 9th) 202/225-5851
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA, 33rd) 202/226-0350
Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN, 5th) 202/225-4886
José Serrano (D-NY, 16th) 202/225-6001
Don Sherwood (R-PA, 10th) 202/225-9594
Michael Simpson (R-ID, 2nd) 202/225-8216
Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL, 10th) 202/225-0837
Charles Taylor (R-NC, 11th)
Todd Tiahrt (R-KS, 4th) 202/225-3486
Peter Visclosky (D-IN, 1st) 202/225-2493
David Vitter (R-LA, 1st) 202/225-0739
James Walsh (R-NY, 25th) 202/225-4042
Zach Wamp (R-TN, 3rd) 202/225-3494
Dave Weldon (R-FL, 15th) 202/225-3516
Roger Wicker (R-MS, 1st) 202/225-3549
C. W. Young (R-FL, 10th) 202/225-9764

Robert F. Bennett (R-UT) 202/228-1168
Christopher S. Bond (R-MO) 202/224-8149
Sam Brownback (R-KS) 202/228-1265
Conrad Burns (R-MT) 202/224-8594
Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) 202/228-4467
Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) 202/224-1933
Thad Cochran (R-MS) 202/224-9450
Larry Craig (R-ID) 202/228-1067
Mike Dewine (R-OH) 202/224-6519
Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) 202/228-0900
Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) 202/224-1193
Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) 202/228-0400
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) 202/228-3954
Judd Gregg (R-NH) 202/224-4952
Tom Harkin (D-IA) 202/224-9369
Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC) 202/224-4293
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) 202/224-0776
Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) 202/224-6747
Tim Johnson (D-SD) 202/228-5765
Herb Kohl (D-WI) 202/224-9787
Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) 202/224-9735
Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) 202/224-3479
Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 202/224-2499
Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) 202/224-8858
Patty Murray (D-WA) 202/224-0238
Harry Reid (D-NV) 202/224-7327
Richard C. Shelby (R-AL) 202/224-3416
Arlen Specter (R-PA) 202/228-1229
Ted Stevens (R-AK) 202/224-2354

Alert prepared by Margaret A. Baker, AGI Government Affairs Program

Sources: E&E News, Greenwire, Library of Congress -- Thomas, Senate Appropriations Committee, Washington Post, and Washington Times.

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

Posted January 31, 2003

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