Overview of Fiscal Year 2012 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 2012 Appropriations Bills and FY 2011 Appropriations Bills and the AAAS Analysis of R&D in the FY 2012 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.
Congress Finishes Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012 (12/11)
Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012 Advance While Deficit Committee Does Not (11/11)
The law extends continuing appropriations at FY2011 levels for other agencies until December 16, 2011. Among the appropriation bills that have not been completed and are of particular interest to the geosciences, are the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of the Interior and the Department of Education. These departments and agencies will continue to be funded at FY2011 levels until Congress acts on these budgets.
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was unable to complete a bipartisan agreement on a plan to reduce the nation’s deficit and announced their stalemate in a brief statement on November 21, 2011. The committee was unable to come to any compromises on the federal budget, federal revenues or entitlements. Congress and the Obama Administration will continue to grapple with the deficit through December and likely into 2012.
MIT Graduate Student Group Organizes Letter to Supercommittee (11/11)
Update on Appropriations for FY 2012 (10/11)
Please visit AGI Government Affairs FY2012 Appropriations Webpage for more details on recent actions and for comparison tables of appropriations for geoscience-related programs within different federal agencies. None of the funding levels are final as Congress has much work to do to approve of a budget for FY2012. Congress and the rest of the country are awaiting the proposal of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (i.e. the supercommittee) on a plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion before completing FY2012 appropriations. The supercommittee held a public hearing on October 26 and has requested input from the public. To offer input or read the latest news from the committee please visit their website. The supercommittee’s plan is due November 23.
Congress Avoids Government Shutdown with Last Minute Deal (09/11)
Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (08/11)
OMB Releases FY 2013 Budget Guidance (08/11)
The request comes soon after President Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25) on August 2. The law calls for $2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade and the administration is beginning the process of finding savings in discretionary spending by the federal government. The law creates a joint select committee (the “supercommittee”) to identify $1.5 trillion in savings over the next decade by late November.
Update on Appropriations for FY 2012 (07/11)
The agreement calls for $900 billion in cuts to security ($350 billion from Defense) and non-security discretionary spending over a decade plus savings of $1.5 trillion determined by a special committee of six Republicans and six Democrats from the House and Senate. The committee must present its plan by November 23 and Congress will vote on this plan by December 23, 2011. It remains unclear whether or how the committee might consider taxes in their planning. If the committee does not come up with an agreeable plan, then automatic cuts would be divided over security, non-security and Medicare spending. Social Security and Medicaid would not be considered in this measure. The current compromise includes miscellaneous language about higher education supplements: Pell grants would receive $20 billion over two years while incentives for graduate students loans would be eliminated.
The debate about the debt ceiling stalled consideration of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2012 (H.R. 2584) and Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations for FY 2012 (H.R. 2596) on the House floor. Floor debate of many amendments to the Interior appropriations began on July 21 and continued until July 28, while floor debate on CJS appropriations has not begun. There are intense disagreements over policy riders and funding levels for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as environmental and climate change related programs in other agencies. Those disagreements and an interest to adjourn the House for the August recess led House leadership to table further discussion of the Interior appropriations and other measures.
Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) calls EPA the “scariest agency in the federal government, ” while Ranking Member Jim Moran (D-VA) predicts the debt ceiling agreement will empower Republicans to make more cuts. Simpson and other policymakers expect a continuing resolution in September to keep the federal government running at FY 2011 levels until Congress can work out an omnibus bill for most discretionary spending over October and November. Simpson predicts Interior and EPA will have leaner budgets in FY 2012, but the allocation for his subcommittee may not see large cuts because Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) supports current allocations for this subcommittee. An AGI overview of FY 2012 Geoscience-related appropriations with tables and summaries of House actions compared to the President’s request and FY2011 enacted levels is available from the Government Affairs website.
Update on Appropriations for FY 2012 (06/11)
The $30.6 billion spending bill (H.R. 2354) for the Department of Energy (DOE), Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation was approved by the full Appropriations Committee on June 15. DOE would receive $24.7 billion. Office of Science would receive $4.8 billion (-$43 million compared to FY 2011; see AIP-FYI for more details), Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would receive $1.3 billion (-$491 million compared to FY 2011) and Office of Fossil Energy would receive $477 million (+$32 million compared to FY 2011, including +$15 million for Natural Gas Technologies research and development). The committee provides $25 million to continue the license application process for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, a project that the Obama administration would like to terminate. The committee provides no funds to restart production of plutonium-238 within DOE for propellant for future NASA space missions, even though the Bush and Obama administrations have requested the funds for the past three years.
The House Appropriations Committee will consider spending for science agencies in July and while the House advances on work on the 12 appropriation bills, Congress and the Obama administration remain at odds regarding the U.S. debt ceiling in relation to government revenues and spending. Talks between Vice President Biden and members of Congress broke down in June as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Senate Minority Whip John Kyl (R-AZ) left the negotiations because the Republicans do not want to consider taxes in any compromise. President Obama is now talking with Senate and House Leadership about the debt ceiling and future government budgets.
CBO Releases 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook (06/11)
Update on Appropriations for FY 2012 (05/11)
Congress Passes Budget for Fiscal Year 2011 (04/11)
Some of the known impacts include a reduction in research grants from the NSF, delays or terminations of satellite missions with concomitant data loss or data gaps at NASA and NOAA, and reductions in research programs within the Department of Energy and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Consideration of Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Begins (04/11)
The FY2012 budget discussions start with President Obama’s budget request from February, 2011. The President’s budget overview includes $1 trillion in deficit reductions in the FY 2012 budget request and a five-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending to reduce the deficit by $400 billion over ten years. The overview lists five keys - Innovate, Educate, Build, Responsibility and Reform – of the request. The AGI Government Affairs FY 2012 Appropriations Overview has details on the specific geosciences funding requests plus links to the relevant agency budget offices for more details. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) R&D Budget and Policy Program has a summary of the FY2012 research budgets requests within all federal agencies and provides a broader overview of U.S. research and development budgets.
The House Budget Committee Majority, led by Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), released a Path to Prosperity document about the FY 2012 budget and beyond. The document offers direction on taxes and large mandatory spending items such as Medicaid and Medicare in order to reduce the deficit over time. The plan is similar in scope to the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility that released a report in December 2010 called The Moment of Truth that offers direction on taxes, mandatory spending and discretionary spending to reduce the deficit over time. The documents have significant differences and both have been criticized, nonetheless they represent a starting point for discussion and compromise for FY2012 and the future.
Both plans call for a freeze on discretionary spending and then reducing discretionary spending to pre-2008 levels. Such a path would lead to a cut of more than $2 billion for the National Science Foundation and devastating cuts to other science agencies. Not only would such plans curtail research and education, but large projects such as monitoring networks, research vessels and satellites would be cut, terminated or not initiated to save costs.
Among other deficit-reducing strategies, the president’s commission calls for a disaster fund to “budget honestly for catastrophes” and a 15-cent gas tax to support a transportation fund to pay for transportation infrastructure needs. The geosciences would be involved in prescriptions for such funds.
On April 15, the House passed a budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 34) that establishes a budget blueprint for FY2012 and budgetary levels for 2013-2021. The House will follow these guidelines in its budget deliberations. The Senate has not considered the House resolution and has not brought forth their own resolution, so there is no publicly available guidance on Senate budget deliberations. Look for Vice President Biden to work with a small group of legislators behind the scenes to work out some compromises before Congress has to vote on raising the debt ceiling in August.
House Science Committee Releases FY 2012 Budget Views (03/11)
Highlights from the Republican views include opposition to the increased funding for the Earth Science programs within NASA; concern over funding new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs at NSF at the expense of others; support for considering cuts to DOE’s Atmospheric System Research and the Climate and Earth Systems Modeling programs, disapproval of reduced funding for DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy; and disapproval of the proposed Climate Service at NOAA. The majority states support for funding for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) at NOAA.
The Democrats of the committee in general support the President’s budget request for federal science agencies, though they did express “disappointment” with the NASA budget request, saying the goals outlined by Congress for NASA are not reflected in the request. The minority supports increased funding for Earth Science at NASA and calls for funding NSF and NOAA at the requested levels.
Update on FY 2011 Budget (03/11)
Congress has been chipping away at the discretionary spending budget in the two continuing resolutions passed in March. The fifth CR (H.J. Res. 44); Public Law 112-4) cut about $4 billion from discretionary spending. The sixth CR (H.J. Res. 48; Public Law 112-6) cut about $6 billion from discretionary spending, targeting climate change programs within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (see the press release from the House Appropriations Committee for more details on these and other cuts).
Congress Debates FY2011 Budget and Passes CR (02/11)
The Senate has not acted on H.R. 1 and many senators have indicated opposition to the measure because of the significant spending cuts and the language restricting EPA. In some cases, legislators in both chambers have expressed opposition to other components of the measure that they view as ideologically based and not related to appropriations.
On February 25, the House Appropriations Committee introduced a short term continuing resolution that would cut $4 billion in discretionary spending and extend government funding at FY 2010 levels for an additional two weeks (ending on March 18, 2011). The full text of the legislation is available from the Rules Committee and the text shows the specific cuts. The measure passed the House on March 1. The Senate approved the short term CR and this will leave Congress with an additional two weeks to try to work out a compromise on the FY 2011 budget without shutting down the government.
Congress and the Obama Administration are trying to reduce the federal budget deficit. According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates, the federal budget deficit for FY 2010 was $1.17 trillion, down from the deficit of $1.7 trillion for FY 2009. The deficit in FY 2009 was much larger because of the $700 billion government bailout of financial institutions ($110 billion was repaid by institutions in FY 2010), the $878 billion for the economic stimulus package, the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bailout of General Motors and affiliated stakeholders plus tax cuts and a patch to the alternative minimum tax. OMB predicts the deficit will grow in FY 2011 to about $1.3 trillion as the economy continues to experience a sluggish recovery and consensus on budget solutions remain elusive.
Congress and the Administration are trying to reduce the deficit by cutting discretionary spending. Discretionary spending for FY 2010 was $1.3 trillion with the largest amounts going to security (Defense, Homeland Security and overseas operations; $815 billion), Health and Human Services ($84 billion), Education ($64.3 billion), Housing and Urban Development ($42.8 billion), Justice ($27.6 billion), and Agriculture ($25 billion). The rest of the federal government accounts for the remaining $241 billion in discretionary spending. Non-discretionary spending for FY 2010 of $1.95 trillion included $701 billion for Social Security, $446 billion for Medicare, $276 for Medicaid, $230 billion for other mandatory programs and $414 billion for interest on the debt. U.S. debt is over $14 trillion or about 95 percent of gross domestic product ($14.7 trillion) for FY 2010. It remains unclear whether any of the proposed cuts by the Administration or Congress will help to significantly reduce the federal budget imbalance or whether the cuts are cost effective in terms of overall government efficiency and their impact on economic growth.
President Obama Released His Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request (02/11)
Carl Wieman, Associate Director for Science at OSTP, went over the increases for science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) education. The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Education will receive funding to prepare 100,000 effective STEM teachers over the next decade. The budget proposes creating an Advanced Research Projects Agency -Education (ARPA-ED) along the lines of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) to transform education technology. In addition, funding at the Office of Science within the Department of Energy (DOE) is set to increase, and there are proposed investments to increase the number of graduate fellowships from the NSF.
America has now entered a global race for clean energy development against other countries to meet the challenges of climate change, according to Shere Abbot, Associate Director for Environment at OSTP. Considering this, the budget request includes administering $550 million to ARPA-E for support of “transformational clean energy research” and increasing investment in renewable energy research, such as solar, geothermal and biofuels development. The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), which includes the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the NSF, will focus on researching and modeling the climate system through Earth observations by investigating greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sources sinks.
Phillip Coyle, Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs at OSTP, mentioned investments to improve cybersecurity and information assurance, as well as defense nuclear nonproliferation across several departments. Associate Director for Technology Aneesh Chopra described the ways the budget encourages research and development. It proposes re-authorizing the Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit to stimulate clean energy innovation in the private sector and create jobs.
Facing the possibility of $2.5 billion cuts to research that have been proposed by the House for fiscal year 2011, Holdren said that “They would cripple our ability to advance innovation and STEM education.”
Outlook for President’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request (01/11)
The budget will request increases for clean energy research. The fact sheet calls for: “A new commitment to supporting clean energy technology, paid for by ending taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels: The President’s Budget will propose increasing clean energy technology funding by a third compared to 2010, including an expansion of the successful ARPA-E research program and a doubling of the number of Energy Innovation Hubs operating around the country … The President’s Budget will also focus on high-value research on clean energy deployment, including more than doubling investments in energy efficiency and a more than 85 percent increase in renewable energy investment.”
Leaders of the new Republican-led House have indicated that they would like to cut discretionary spending in upcoming budget deliberations. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-OH) has been leading the charge to reduce spending since the waning days of the 111th Congress when he set-up a website where citizens could propose cuts in domestic programs, particularly to research grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Appropriations for FY2011 Update (01/11)
The new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-KY) stated on the House floor that the plan is to “make the largest series of spending cuts in history”. Indeed the House passed a resolution (H. Res. 38) to reduce FY2011 spending to FY2008 levels. If the schedule moves forward as proposed, then the floor debates could be used to sway congressional and public opinion.
In late breaking news, the House Budget Committee announced spending allocations for the remainder of the fiscal year to save $74 billion. On February 3, the committee released a fact sheet describing the budget plan.
Over in the Senate, the Appropriations Committee announced on February 1 that they would implement a moratorium on earmarks for the session, following a similar pledge already implemented in the House. The moratorium will apply to the FY2011 and FY2012 budget considerations. In related news, there was an interesting measure introduced on January 27. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) propose moving the annual federal budget process to a two-year cycle in their Biennial Budget Appropriations Act of 2011 (S.211). Representatives David Drier (R-CA) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) introduced a similar bill (H.R. 114) in the House on January 5.
Congress will try to complete the FY2011 budget in February or March and additional continuing resolutions are likely. Congress will need to consider raising the federal debt ceiling in May or June and then turn to completing the FY2012 budget. All three of these processes will be acrimonious and difficult as there are significant differences in priorities between the major parties, the House and the Senate and Congress and the Administration.
Sources: Congressional Budget Office, House Budget Committee, THOMAS (Library of Congress)
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, E&ENews Publications, House Committee on Appropriations, Library of Congress, Senate Committee on Appropriations, and the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributed by Linda Rowan, AGI Government Affairs
Staff; Vicki Bierwirth, AGI/AIPG Summer 2011 Intern; and Erin Camp, AAPG/AGI Fall 2011 Intern..
Last updated January 4, 2012