Overview of Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations

Choose an agency on the bar below to view AGI's analysis of the President's request for key geoscience-related agencies as well as detailed program and account information. Each of the appropriations pages provides a summary table, an overview of the budget request, and congressional action on the agency or department.

As in years past, AGI will provide 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 2009 Appropriations Bills and the AAAS Analysis of R&D in the FY 2009 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.

Appropriations Update 2/09

Omnibus Appropriations Considered by the 111th Congress
On February 25, 2009, the House quickly approved of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 1105), which would provide appropriations for most federal agencies for fiscal year 2009 (FY09). Currently most agencies are operating under a continuing resolution (CR) from the 110th Congress, which essentially sets budgets at FY08 levels. The CR expires on March 6, 2009, so Congress must either pass the omnibus or propose a new continuing resolution in order to avoid a shut down of the federal government. The quick action on the omnibus in the House means that the 111th Congress plans to pass an omnibus providing new appropriations for most federal agencies.

The House has sent the measure to the Senate, which will consider it during the first week of March. Significant changes are not expected as the House and Senate Appropriation Committees appear to have worked out differences left by the committees of the 110th Congress from 2008 before introducing H.R. 1105. The 111th Congress must work fast to compromise any remaining differences in order to get the bill to the President by March 6.

Appropriations Update 11/08

The 110th Congress is working on fiscal year 2009 appropriation bills in December. The appropriation subcommittees are trying to complete the bills, so they can present them to the 111th Congress on January 6, 2009. The hope is to complete the fiscal year 2009 budget for all the departments, agencies and programs stalled by the continuing resolution as early as possible in the next Congress. The geoscience community as coalitions, societies, institutions, stakeholders or individually are encouraged to send letters to the leaders and staff of the appropriate subcommittees asking for support of vital geoscience-related programs. Given the short time frame, letters should be sent by email.

More information about the proposed funding levels of agencies that support geosciences are available from the AGI Overview of Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations. The various funding levels described for different agencies in the overview are based on House and Senate committee work before the budget process was halted. The committees are likely to start at these levels and make adjustments as needed. No details beyond the President’s request for the U.S. Geological Survey are provided in the overview because the committees did not complete any reports for the Department of the Interior. (11/08)


Science Agencies Left Deflated as Congress Passes Continuing Resolution

On September 27th by a vote of 78-12, the Senate passed a continuing resolution, funding the majority of the government at fiscal year (FY) 2008 levels until March 6, 2009.  Senate action followed after the House passed the measure (H.R. 2638) on September 24th by a vote of 231-198. The continuing resolution package contains three FY 2009 spending bills – Defense funded at $488 billion, Military Construction and Veteran’s Affairs funded at $73 billion and Homeland Security funded at $40 billion - plus $23 billion in disaster relief funding.  The spending package also includes funding of $2.5 billion for the Pell Grant program, $75 billion for a domestic automakers and battery makers new technology loan program, and $5.1 billion for the low-income heating assistance program.

The continuation of FY 2008 spending levels for federal agencies which support the geosciences, means a significant decrease in real dollars for research relative to rising costs. There will be increasing competition for decreasing research funds, delays for some programs, deferments of new initiatives, uncertainties in budget planning, uncertainties in workforce levels (with potential layoffs) and fewer resources for education and training. 

The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE-Office of Science), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were slated to receive healthy increases to their bottom-line research budgets in FY 2009 thanks to the passage of the America COMPETES Act in 2007. COMPETES authorizes a doubling of these budgets over 7 to 10 years. Unfortunately the lack of follow through in the appropriations process and the snowballing economic crisis of the past month make these increases untenable.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on the eve of its 50th anniversary and expecting funding increases to carry-out core missions, will see a small decrease for a total budget of $17.1 billion. Although Congress passed and the President is expected to sign the NASA Re-authorization bill (H.R. 6063), NASA will not see any of the increases authorized in that measure any time soon, including the $20.2 billion budget proposed for FY 2009.

Additionally, the CR eliminates increases of tens of millions of dollars each for NSF, DOE-Office of Science and NASA that was provided in an emergency supplemental act approved in July. The flat budgets and the loss of the small emergency supplemental increases leaves federal science agencies extremely deflated, with small percentage cuts to their research portfolios and the need to re-organize their spending priorities. There is also a possibility of an across-the-board rescission to federal programs, if Congress needs to find funds to offset any emergency spending.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will maintain a flat budget, however the CR did include funding for the 2010 U.S. Census, so the Department of Commerce is less likely to raid other agencies such as NOAA to cover the U.S. Census shortfall. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) may weather the funding storm better than other science agencies because although the President requested a decrease in the survey’s budget from $1 billion in FY 2008 to $968 million in FY 2009, the CR means that the survey’s budget should hover close to $1 billion. The USGS may need to shift some funds for an unfunded civil servant pay increase in the CR.  

The USGS budget will remain within the now controversial Department of the Interior appropriations bill. The bill contains the moratorium on new offshore drilling and because Congress could not reach any agreement on the moratorium as gasoline prices were rising, they elected to stop the appropriation process dead in its tracks in the summer.  The CR removes the controversy for now by allowing the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling to lapse on October 1, 2008.  A separate ban on offshore drilling within 125 miles of Florida’s gulf shores remains in affect because the area was excluded in a separate law. It is unclear what the next Congress might do about offshore drilling and public statements from legislators on both sides of the issue suggest controversy ahead, which may stall appropriations for Interior and others in the future.

Basic research within the Department of Defense received a large increase of 12.9 percent for a total budget of $1.8 billion. The Department of Homeland Security received a 9.4 percent increase for its research budget for a total of $1.1 billion. These are the only major research budgets that will see any growth in FY 2009 under the current CR.

President Bush has indicated that he will sign the stopgap measure, funding the government past the end of his administration.  It is unclear how the next Congress will address spending for the remainder of FY 2009. While the next Congress and the next administration have the option to consider a different budget for FY 2009, the recent economic storm leaves any prediction on future appropriations very murky.

More details about the research budgets of specific science agencies in the CR is available from AAAS.

Emergency Supplemental Includes Science Funding

With a vote of 96-2 by the Senate on June 26th the emergency supplemental bill (H.R. 2642) was passed by Congress and now heads to the White House for the President’s signature.  Although the majority of the $165 billion bill is geared toward funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, four science agencies, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Science within the Department of Energy, (DOE Science) would receive much needed boosts to their FY 2008 funding levels. The increase could also help the agencies if Congress decides to push FY 2009 funding decisions until next year and a continuing resolution is passed instead. 

NASA, NSF and DOE Science would receive an additional $62.5 million for FY 2008, while NIH would receive an additional $150 million in funding.  The supplemental funding for NSF was targeted to specific accounts while the other agencies received overall budget increases.  Within NSF, $22.5 million would be allocated to the Research and Related Activities account with $5 million of that funding available solely for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), and $40 million would be allocated to the Education and Human Resources Directorate, with $20 million of those funds going to the Robert Noyce scholarship program. (07/08)

Congress Completes Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution

In early June, the reconciled version of the fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 70) was adopted by both chambers of Congress.   The final bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 48-45 and the House by a vote of 214-210, increases discretionary spending by $24.5 billion above President Bush’s FY 2009 request. The higher discretionary spending levels in the budget resolution incorporate increases associated with the passage of the America COMPETES Act, which calls for the doubling of the research budgets for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Office of Science in the Department of Energy (DOE) over the next ten years.

The budget resolution, a non-binding agreement, establishes parameters for congressional action on tax and spending bills by setting annual federal outlays and revenues.  For FY 2009 federal outlays total $3.1 trillion with federal revenues totaling $2.7 trillion, resulting in a deficit of $340.4 billion for FY 2009. 

The level of agency spending is based on budget authorities for major functional categories. The FY 2009 budget resolution allocates $30.6 billion in budget authority to Function 250, which is $1.2 billion more than the President’s request. Function 250 (Science, Space, Technology) includes the NSF, programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) minus their aviation programs, and general science programs at the DOE.
The budget resolution allots $6.5 billion to Function 270 (Energy), which includes civilian energy and environmental programs in the DOE, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and is $1.6 billion above the administration’s request. 

For Function 300 (Natural Resources and Environment), the budget authority for FY 2009 is $40.5 billion, $5.8 billion above the President’s request. Function 300 covers programs concerned with environmental protection and restoration; recreation and wildlife areas; and the development and management of the nation's land, water, and mineral resources and includes programs within the following federal departments and agencies: Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Function 370 (Commerce and Housing Credit), which includes most of the programs within the Commerce department such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NIST, is allocated $9.6 billion in the resolution, $5.2 above the request. 

The budget authority for Function 500 (Education and Training) was set at $94.3 billion and is $14.7 billion more than the request; this function includes funding for the Department of Education, social services, employment and training programs within the Department of Labor, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Function 550 (Health) was allocated $310 billion in the budget resolution, which is $13 billion above the request and will determine spending levels for direct health care services programs as well as funding fro the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration.

The House Appropriations Committee has released a schedule for the consideration of the 12 appropriations bills, completing all action by the end of July.  It is unclear however if the Senate Appropriations Committee will complete action on the bills and if any of the bills will be considered on the floor of either chamber.    Democratic leadership has indicated that the FY 2009 appropriations process will be altered resulting in either an omnibus bill at the end of the year or delaying the entire process until the next administration.

Click here for the full text of the FY 2009 budget resolution. (06/08)

Sources: CQ.com, Congressional Budget Office, House Budget Committee, THOMAS (Library of Congress)

blue line

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 Linda Rowan and Marcy Gallo, AGI Government Affairs Staff.

Last Update July 8, 2008.