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SPECIAL UPDATE: Congress Passes Mega-Legislation,
FY05 Budget is Complete

(Posted 11-30-04)


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

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.

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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 cut.

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


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