Overview of Fiscal Year 2006 Appropriations


As in years past, AGI is tracking budget appropriations for the agencies and programs of most interest to the geoscience community. We offer coverage on the President's initial budget request, congressional hearings on budget decisions, and final actions by Congress as next year's funding decisions are made.

Choose an agency on the bar below to view detailed program and account information as well as AGI's analysis as the bills move through Congress. Or you can scroll down for an overview table breaking down the whole federal budget. For the FY 2006 budget process, Congress reorganized jurisdiction in both the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees. Read below for an in-depth look at the budget process and how the recent subcommittee reorganization affects earth science funding.

As in years past, AGI has provided testimony to several subcommittees on programs of importance to the geoscience community.

You can also keep up-to-date with the Library of Congress Table on Current Status of FY 2006 Appropriations Bills and the AAAS Analysis of R&D in the FY 2006 Budget. 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.


The appropriations process begins when the President submits to Congress his budget request for the upcoming fiscal year. The President's proposal is coordinated by the Office of Management and Budget under the authority of the White House. Once the president has proposed his budget with the administration's priorities, it is up to Congress to prepare a budget for the nation. Congress begins the budget process by preparing a budget resolution and holding hearings on the rationale behind the administration's proposal. While the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees and authorization committees are holding oversight hearings, the Budget committees use March and April to formulate a budget resolution.

Before April 15th, Congress must agree to a budget resolution that determines discretionary spending in the upcoming fiscal year. Meanwhile, appropriations subcommittees in the House and the Senate continue to hold hearings to gather information to determine an appropriate funding level for federal programs. After the appropriations bills are approved in committee and then by the full House or Senate, a conference committee is formed to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions. After the revised bill has been approved by the House and the Senate, it is submitted to the President for his signature.

In previous years, both the House and the Senate had 13 separate appropriations subcommittees which were responsible for drafting the individual appropriations bills. The corresponding subcommittees in the House and the Senate were responsible for the same agencies. In a 2005 reorganization and consolidation of the appropriations subcommittees, the House and the Senate created subcommittees which did not perfectly correspond to the subcommittees in the other chamber of Congress. This may cause difficulties when the House and the Senate attempt to agree on identical bills in conference. The details of this reorganization follow.

House Reorganization

In mid-February of 2005 the House Appropriations Committee ratified a reorganization of the appropriations subcommittees. In a statement released on February 9th Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) said, "This structure will allow us to spend less time on the floor and in committee and more time doing oversight over the expenditure of taxpayer funds. These changes will make it a little easier to get our work done on time and under budget. The greatest impact of this proposal falls on the two subcommittees I formerly chaired, VA-HUD and Defense. My decade of experience with the programs funded by these two subcommittees provided the insight to make some common-sense changes that will improve our stewardship of discretionary spending. I want to commend Chairman Cochran on the respectful and thoughtful manner in which he has worked with me on this proposal."

Not everyone hailed this move as a positive one. The Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee David Obey (D-WI) said in a statement, "The reorganization plan for the Appropriations Committee that the House Majority has proposed is not aimed at improving efficiency. It is simply payback. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is retaliating for cuts that the Republican-controlled VA-HUD appropriations subcommittee made to the NASA budget request."

Nevertheless, there are now 10 appropriations subcommittees instead of 13, and several that are important to the geosciences have new responsibilities.

The 10 subcommittees are:

  • Agriculture chaired by U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX)
  • Defense chaired by U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL)
  • Energy and Water chaired by U.S. Rep. David Hobson (R-OH)
  • Foreign Operations chaired by U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ)
  • Interior and Environment chaired by U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC)
  • Homeland Security chaired by U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY)
  • Labor, Health and Human Services and Education chaired by U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH)
  • Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs chaired by U.S. Rep. James Walsh (R-NY)
  • Science, State, Justice and Commerce chaired by U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA)
  • Transportation, Treasury and Housing chaired by U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI)

See a summary of the House Reorganization Proposal online.

View a list of chairmanships and majority committee members online.

View a list of democratic ranking members and minority committee assignments online.

Senate Reorganization

Ending weeks of speculation, Senator Cochran (R-MS) announced on March 2, 2005 that the Senate Appropriations Committee would also reorganize its subcommittee structure. Once the proposal was ratified by the full Senate Appropriations Committee, there are now 12 subcommittees instead of 13. The programs and accounts funded previously through the VA-HUD and Independent Agencies Subcommittee (including NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency) are being divided among other subcommittees.

The 12 subcommittees:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies, chaired by Senator Bennett (R-UT)
  • Commerce, Justice, and Science, chaired by Senator Shelby (R-AL)
  • Defense, chaired by Senator Stevens (R-AK)
  • District of Columbia, chaired by Senator DeWine (R-OH)
  • Energy and Water, chaired by Senator Domenici (R-NM)
  • Homeland Security, chaired by Senator Gregg (R-NH)
  • Interior and Related Agencies, chaired by Senator Burns (R-MT)
  • Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, chaired by Senator Specter (R-PA)
  • Legislative Branch, chaired by Senator Brownback (R-KS)
  • Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, chaired by Senator Hutchison (R-TX)
  • State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, chaired by Senator McConnell (R-KY)
  • Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary, and Housing and Urban Development, chaired by Senator Bond (R-MO)

In a statement Senator Cochran said, "The Senate Appropriations Committee is moving forward with a consensus on the structure of the Committee. The changes made will allow for a more orderly approach to the appropriations process."

View a press release regarding the new committees and jurisdictional changes from the Senate Appropriations Committee website.

The Budget Process

Below is a diagram of the congressional budget process that first appeared in Following the Budget Process that was published in the March 1996 issue of Geotimes. It is adapted from a diagram developed by the House Budget Committee. Click on the image to open a PDF version.

Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Physics, E&ENews Publications, House Committee on Appropriations, Library of Congress, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Washington Post, and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

Contributed by Emily Lehr Wallace, AGI Government Affairs Program, Katie Ackerly, AGI Government Affairs Program, and John Vermylen, 2005 AGI/AIPG Summer Intern.

Background section includes material from AGI's Overview of Fiscal Year 2005 Geoscience Appropriations from the 108th Congress.

Last Update February 25, 2005.