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SPECIAL UPDATE: FY05 Geoscience Funding Action
in the House, Senate

(Posted 10-8-04)


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

IN A NUTSHELL: September saw legislative action on several appropriations bills. The House passed the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill, which contains funding for the Math and Science Partnership Program within the Department of Education. The House also passed the VA/HUD appropriations bill to fund the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency and NASA in FY05. The Senate, however, only managed to pass several bills out of committee. The VA/HUD appropriations bill, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill, Commerce, State, Justice and the Judiciary appropriations bill and Department of the Interior appropriations bill have all been readied for the Senate floor but the full Senate has yet to take action on them.

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Congress is expected to adjourn on or about October 8th in order to let members campaign back home prior to the election. Once they reconvene post-November 2nd, there is a lot of work ahead for both chambers. The government is currently operating on a continuing resolution, which keeps the government running on last year's funding levels until new spending is approved. Only the FY05 Defense spending bill has been signed into law by the president. The bill that will fund Washington, DC next year is ready for the president to sign, but the rest of the spending bills are still making their way through the process - a process that must be wrapped up by November 20th, the date the current continuing resolution expires.

This special update reports on spending levels for geoscience-related programs at the National Science Foundation, NASA, NOAA, EPA and the Departments of Education and Interior.

House VA/HUD Appropriations

On September 9th, the House Appropriations Committee passed their plan for funding the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies in FY05. The Committee recommended $5.47 billion for the overall budget of the National Science Foundation. This amount represents a decrease of $111 million from the FY04 allocation and a $278 million decrease from the President's budget request. The Committee expressed disappointment that the NSF submitted their budget request in a strategic plan format with the strategic goals: 'People,' 'Tools,' and 'Ideas.' The NSF has been instructed to prepare a traditional appropriations account structure of greater detail, to be submitted no later than October 15, 2004. Given the lack of a detailed budget request from the NSF, the Committee did not made funding recommendations for all programs and directorates, including the Geosciences Directorate or the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation.

The Research and Related Activities account was allocated $4.2 billion, $73.7 million below FY04 and $194.3 million below the budget request. Office of Polar Programs was given $350 million, as requested by the President. In their report the Committee noted that, "expenses for the Antarctic operation programs have substantially increased due to rising fuel costs, increased Coast Guard support costs, the weather, and extraordinary ice conditions in the bay. The Committee expects NSF to provide the necessary resources for operations, research support and logistics, and science and research grant support to fully fund the Antarctic operations."

The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account is slated to receive $208 million, an increase of $53 million from FY04 but $5 million short of the President's request. Within this account, the Committee recommends $47.3 million for Earthscope and $30 million for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

NSF's Education and Human Resources activities are designed to encourage the entrance of talented students into science and technology careers, to improve undergraduate and K-12 science and engineering education, and to provide opportunities for underrepresented segments of the scientific and engineering communities. The Committee proposes $843 million for this account, $90.5 million short of the FY04 level and $2.9 million less than the budget request. The Math and Science Partnerships would receive $82.5 million, $2.5 million more than the request and $56.7 million less than the 2004 level.

In other of the bill's provisions, the Committee recommended that NASA receive $15.1 billion for FY05, $1 billion less than requested and $228 million less than the 2004 funding level. The House did provide full funding for several important NASA missions, such as the Mars exploration programs, because, "the Committee believes that the planetary exploration and space science programs at NASA are essential to the mission and success of the federal space programs." The Committee also urged NASA to take the advice of the National Academy of Sciences and look into ways to extend the life of the Hubble Space Telescope
The Committee explained the cuts it did make by saying that, although they are supportive of the exploration aspect of NASA's vision and President Bush's proposal, they do not believe it should take priority over NASA's science and aeronautics programs. The elimination of funding for many new initiatives accounts for most of the cuts to the agency. The House also cut funding requested for the International Space Station due to delays in the shuttle operations.

Also in that bill, the Environmental Protection Agency was funded at $7.75 billion for FY05, $613 million short of last year's allocation and $36 million less than the President's request. For a more detailed account of the House's allocations in the VA/HUD bill, see http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_vahud.html#House.

Senate VA/HUD Appropriations

On September 21, 2004, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Veteran's Affairs and Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies Bill, S.2825. The Committee recommended $5.7 billion for the National Science Foundation. This follows the president's request and gives the agency a 3% increase over the current funding level. The report states, "The Committee continues to be supportive of the efforts achieved in the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-368) and the pursuit of a doubling path for NSF funding. However, due to funding constraints, the Committee is not able to provide such funding at this time, but will continue to pursue these efforts in the future."

According to the report, the Research and Related Activities account would receive $4.3 billion, 3.6% more than the current level but 1.1% less than the budget request. The Geosciences Directorate would be funded at $728.5 million. This is the same as the president's request; it reflects a 1.9% increase over the current level. The Office of Polar Programs would suffer a 19% cut from the budget request and an 18% cut from current funding, falling to a $281.6 million budget for FY05. There were no recommendations specified for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation or the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

The Committee recommended $929 million for the Education and Human Resources Account, roughly equal to current funding but also a 20% increase over the request. According to the report, "the education and human resources appropriation supports a comprehensive set of programs across all levels of education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM]. The Committee is on record expressing disappointment by the administration's lack of support in its budget request for assisting smaller research institutions and minorities."

The Committee rejected the administration's request to transfer the Math and Science Partnership [MSP] program to the Department of Education. According to the report, "the MSP program is an important asset in providing improved math and science education by partnering local school districts with faculty of colleges and universities." Therefore, the MSP program is recommended to receive $110 million, 38% more than requested but 21% less than current funding.

The Committee recommended $15.6 billion for NASA, flat funding from FY04 and 4% less than requested. According to the report, "the current Federal fiscal environment is not favorable to supporting completely the budget NASA has presented for fiscal year 2005. The out-year costs also seem overly optimistic at time when both the administration and Congress are committed to reducing the Federal budget deficit. However, steps toward laying the foundation of future NASA initiatives must be taken in order for there to be a future for many NASA activities once the Shuttle program is retired and the International Space Station is completed." An additional $300 million is intended for emergency funding of an emergency servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration account is slated to receive $7.7 billion in FY05, on par with the budget request and current funding levels. The Earth Science Enterprise would receive $164 million, a 10% increase over the request and a 1.8% increase over the current enacted level. According to the report, "The activities of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise seek to understand the total Earth system and the effects of humans on the global environment. This pioneering program of studying global climate change is developing many of the capabilities that will be needed for long-term environment and climate monitoring and prediction. Governments around the world need information based on the strongest possible scientific understanding. The unique vantage-point of space provides information about the Earth's land, atmosphere, ice, oceans, and biota as a global system, which is available in no other way. In concert with the global research community, the Earth Science Enterprise is developing the understanding needed to support the complex environmental policy decisions that must be addressed. The Committee believes that Earth science has been a critical part of a balanced space program long advocated by this Committee. The Committee remains fully committed to a robust Earth science program at NASA notwithstanding the recent headquarters reorganization plan. The Committee expects NASA to remain fully committed to Earth science, with future missions identified with 5 year funding profiles that reflect a serious commitment to Earth science as a vital part of the Nation's space program."

The Office of Space Science is slated to receive the budget request of $4 billion, 8.3% more than current funding.

The Committee recommended $8.5 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency in FY05. That's a 9.5% increase over the request and 1.6% more than the enacted level. The Science and Technology Account, which "provides funding for the scientific knowledge and tools necessary to support decisions on preventing, regulating, and abating environmental pollution and to advance the base of understanding on environmental sciences," is slated to receive $758.2 million, 10% more than the request and 3% less than the current level.

The Environmental Programs and Management account would receive $2.3 billion under the Senate's funding plan. This is the same as the president's budget request and a 1.3% increase over the current enacted level. The Hazardous Substances Superfund account is slated to receive the requested $1.4 billion, 9.7% more than the current level. The Committee recommends $70 million for the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, 7.3% less than the current level and 3.4% less than the president's request. State and Tribal Assistance Grants are slated to receive $3.9 billion, roughly equal to the current funding but 20% more than the budget request. Within this account, the Clean Water State Revolving Funds would continue the FY04 level of $1.4 billion. That's $50 million, or 3.8%, more than the budget request. The Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund would also receive the FY04 level $850 million as requested by the budget. The Brownfields account would receive $140 million, 16% above the budget request at the current enacted level.

For a more detailed account of the Senate's allocations in the VA/HUD bill, see http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_vahud.html#Senate.

Interior Appropriations


On September 14th, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY05 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. The bill divides a total budget of $20.2 billion amongst its constituent agencies. The Senate recommended $939.5 billion for the USGS, $1.5 million more than requested by the President. This increase of 2.1% restores the funding cut proposed by the Administration but does not meet the rate of inflation. The Senate's report cautions, "The Committee is concerned that both Department of the Interior [DOI] and administration-wide priorities, as well as the Survey's administrative changes, are being balanced on the backs of the programs disciplines that are the basis for the Survey's existence and its scientific reputation. The strength of the Survey's existing efforts in many program areas is deserving of additional support. The Committee urges that future budget requests place a stronger emphasis on the Survey's core programs, which have proven value and strong public support."

The Committee recommends $542.5 for fossil energy research and development at the Department of Energy, a decrease of $130 million or 19% below the enacted level and a decrease of $93 million or 14.6% from the budget request. Within this account, the Committee would allocate $41 million for Natural Gas Technologies, 4.7% less than current funding and 58% more than requested by the President. Petroleum - Oil Technologies would receive $31 million, a 107% increase over the $15 million requested but an 11.4% decrease from the current level. The Exploration and Production account received $13 million above the request. According to the report, "The Committee is aware of the success of the Carbon Capture Project" and has agreed to the budget request of $49 million for Carbon Sequestration research, 19.5% more than the current funding level.

More information on these programs as well as the Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service, National Park Service, Smithsonian and Forest Service is available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_interior.html#Senate.

Commerce, State, Justice Appropriations

On September 15th, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its Commerce, State, Justice and the Judiciary (CJSJ) Appropriations bill for FY05. The Committee recommended a $6.9 billion total budget for the Department of Commerce, a 14% increase over the budget request, a 16% increase over the FY04 enacted level, and just over a billion more than recommended by the House.

The budget recommendation for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which includes the National Weather Service, the National Ocean Service, and the Oceanic and Atmospheric Research account, are available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_commerce.html#Senate.

Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations


On September 15th the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY05 spending plan for the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill. The Committee recommended $61.4 billion dollars for the Department of Education, 10% more than the FY04 enacted level and 7% more than the President's request. The Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) Program would receive $200 million, $9 million or 4.5% less than requested but $51 million or 34% more than current funding. The report states, "These funds will be used to improve the performance of students in the areas of math and science by bringing math and science teachers in elementary and secondary schools together with scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to increase the teachers' subject-matter knowledge and improve their teaching skills."

More information about funding for the MSP program at the Department of Education is available on AGI's website at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/appropsfy2005_labor.html.

Special update prepared by Emily M. Lehr, 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.

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

Posted October 8, 2004