SPECIAL UPDATE: Congress Passes Mega-Legislation,
FY05 Budget is Complete
This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's
IN A NUTSHELL: On November 20th the House and Senate each
passed H.R. 4818, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Consolidated Appropriations
Act. This omnibus appropriations bill combined all of the FY05 spending
measures that Congress was not able to complete before the end of
the fiscal year on September 30th. Included in this legislation were
the final spending plans for the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce
(NOAA), Energy, Interior and Education as well as the Environmental
Protection Agency, NASA and the National Science Foundation.
In what has become an all too familiar refrain, Congress was unable
to complete its work on funding the government by the October 1st
start of FY05. And in what has become an equally familiar refrain,
their inability to cooperatively settle outstanding issues on a bill-by-bill
basis has led Congress to combine nine remaining spending bills into
an "omnibus" appropriations bill. This consolidated bill
was passed by both the House and Senate on Saturday, November 20th.
Information about departments, agencies and programs most important
to geoscientists are below. Note that the figures cited below reflect
lawmakers' intentions when they parceled out funding. Due to Congress'
tardiness in passing the FY05 appropriations bills, part of the new
fiscal year has passed. The figures below are subject to a 0.80% across-the-board
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) received an $11 million increase
over FY04 levels in the omnibus appropriations bill. This brings total
funding for the USGS up to $949 million. However, due to budgetary
pressures within the Department of Interior Appropriations bill, there
is an across-the-board 0.594% cut for all Interior accounts. These
accounts were also subject to the government-wide .80% rescission.
In the end, USGS will receive $935.8 million in FY05; a $3.8 million
cut from last year's funding level. One of the only bright spots within
this funding includes $5.5 million for the Advanced National Seismic
System, an $850,000 increase ($700,000 increase after rescission).
Elsewhere in the Interior Department, the Bureau of Reclamation
should receive $1 billion, an increase of $40 million over last year,
while Interior's Fossil Energy R&D program was cut by $93
million to $580 million. The National Park Service received
a $90 million increase over last year. Additional information is available
by logging onto http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_interior.html.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) budget was cut by $61
million from last year's funding total to $5.5 billion. Within NSF,
Research and Related Activities saw a $3 million increase to $4.255
billion, and Major Research Equipment and Facilities received an increase
of $20 million to $175.5 million. Education and Human Resources was
cut by $90 million, from $938 million to $848 million. In a statement
on the Floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers
(R-MI) expressed his concern and astonishment at the funding cut in
a statement on the Floor saying, "In the last 20 years this has
happened only twice, and I am sorry to see that this year we will
make it a third." Additional analysis of the final spending plan
for NSF is available on AGI's website at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_vahud.html.
NASA appears to be the biggest winner among agencies that
fund earth and space science research. The President requested $16.2
billion for FY05, and Congress allocated exactly that amount. The
$822 million increase over last year's funding is designed to return
space shuttles to flight, begin the process of replacing Columbia,
and begin to make the Moon and Mars missions articulated by President
Bush in last January a reality. For specific information on NASA's
funding for Earth Science Enterprise and the Office of Space Science,
log onto AGI's website at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_vahud.html.
Rounding out the science agencies that typically receive their amounts
in the Department of Veterans, Health and Human Services and Independent
Agencies Appropriations bill, the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) is slated to receive $8.1 billion in FY05. This is a $278 million
reduction from FY04 funding levels. While nearly every account in
EPA was cut, the largest cuts are targeted at grants and loans for
state and local water projects. The specifics are available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_vahud.html.
The Department of Energy (DOE) would receive $23 billion overall,
nearly matching the president's FY05 request. After the government-wide
rescission, though, DOE's funding will be $172,000 less than last
year. Congress provided $577 million for the Yucca Mountain nuclear
waste repository, the same amount as last year. Funding for renewable
energy resources received a $16 million increase while geothermal
technology development and hydropower each stands pat. DOE's Office
of Science received an increase of $150 million, bringing total funding
to $3.6 billion. The Office's programs in high energy physics, fusion
research, nuclear physics, computing research, and basic energy sciences
will all receive modest increases. Further analysis of DOE's FY05
budget is available online at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_energy.html.
The Commerce Department is slated to receive $6.7 billion in FY05,
of which $3.94 billion will go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA). All accounts within the Commerce, State,
Justice and Judiciary appropriations bill are subject to a 0.54% reduction
prior to the government-wide 0.80% reduction. This brings NOAA's total
funding down to 3.94 billion. The National Weather Service will receive
a $60 million increase while the National Ocean Service will suffer
a $53 million decrease in funding. Oceanic and Atmospheric Research,
though, will increase their budget by $17 million. Further details
are available on AGI's website at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_commerce.html.
The Department of Education will receive $56.5 billion in FY05, 1.5%
more than the current enacted level. The Math and Science Partnerships
budget increased 16% to $179 million. This will mean more formula
grants to the states for Math and Science Partnerships. However, in
the same omnibus spending bill, Congress reduced the National Science
Foundation's Math and Science Partnership program, a peer-reviewed
competitive program to find and fund the most innovative partnerships
across the country, by 43%. This means that in the future, there will
be less innovative programs for the formula grant administered by
the Department of Education to draw from. These programs work in a
complementary fashion and an increase in one with a decrease to the
other does not add up to success for the overall program goals. Information
about the Department of Education's funding is available on AGI's
website at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_labor.html.
The United States Department of Agriculture was flat funded
at $82.6 billion. The Natural Resources Conservation Service was cut
3.3% to $992 million. Watershed Surveys and Planning suffered a 33%
cut, from $10.5 million in FY04 to $6.9 million in FY05. Watershed
and Flood Prevention was cut 13% to $75 million. The Agricultural
Research Service benefited from a 16% budget increase to $1.29 billion.
Congress did comment on these funding levels and express some concern.
Their full remarks can be found online at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_ag.html.
To see how your Representative voted on H.R. 4818, click on http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/roll542.xml.
Text of the bill and conference report is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/omni2005/index.htm.
Special update prepared by Emily Lehr Wallace, AGI Government Affairs
Program and David Millar, AGI/AAPG 2004 Fall Semester Intern.
Sources: National Science Foundation; Thomas Legislative Database;
NOAA; EPA; Greenwire; Energy and Environment Daily; AGU Science and
Legislative Alert; American Institute of Physics FYI.
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Posted November 30, 2004