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November 22, 2004

Appropriations Roundup

Here's some of the agency-by-agency wrap-up in the wake of the FY 2005 Omnibus Bill. We've detailed some of the blow-by-blow in the lead-up to final passage here. All figures include the 0.80 percent across-the-board cut imposed on all non-defense agencies to pay for additional spending in other parts of the bill.

NSF: NSF will lose $105 million for FY 05 (compared to FY 04), a cut of 1.9%. The largest cut is to the Education and Human Resources Directorate ($98 million, 10%), with most of that cut falling on the Graduate Education and Research, Evaluation & Communication accounts. The Major Research Equipment account will see an increase of about $19 million over FY04. Research and Related Activities (home of CISE) was to be held essentially flat for FY05, but will lose $30 million (0.7%) as the result of the across-the-board cut. Here's the breakout:

FY 2005 NSF Appropriations
(in millions)
FY 2004
FY 05
Budget Request
FY 2005
House Mark
FY 2005
Senate Mark
FY 2005
Final Approps*
$ Change
FY 05 Final vs FY 04
% Change
FY 05 Final vs FY 04
Research and Related Activities
Major Research Equip
Education and Human Resources
Salaries and Expenses
National Science Board
Inspector General
*includes 0.80 percent across-the-board cut
Department of Energy Office of Science: The Office of Science received a 2.8 percent increase over FY 2004, to $3.6 billion. Included in the increase was $30 million for the development of a "Leadership Class" supercomputer at DOE ($25 million for hardware, $5 million for software development). Some additional details here.

NIST Labs: The Labs faced a dire funding situation as a result of last year's omnibus appropriation, but received some of that back this year in the form of a 10 percent increase, to $379 million. Not as good as the Senate appropriation level of $384 million, but better than the House approved level of $375 million.

NASA: The NASA budget will increase 4.6 percent for FY 2005 to $16.1 billion, thanks in part to $800 million in additional funding targeted for the President's Moon and Mars initiative. The $800 million was necessary to avoid a veto from the President and to ensure the support of GOP majority whip Rep. Tom Delay. Unfortunately, given the strict funding constraints placed on the appropriations committee by the congressional leadership and the Administration, the additional funding had to come at the expense of other agencies within the bill.

National Institutes of Health: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget of $28.6 billion is just 2 percent above last year's funding level, well off the 15 percent annual increases between 1998 and 2003. Most NIH institutes will receive increases between 1.6 and 2.5 percent.

Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) was among the first to issue a press release condemning the decrease in funding for the National Science Foundation in the Omnibus Bill. His press release can be found after the jump.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, November 22, 2004                                   

Ehlers expresses concern over National Science Foundation funding

Science subcommittee chairman supports omnibus bill 'under protest'

WASHINGTON - Saying he is "concerned and astonished" that Congress decided to cut funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers said he voted Saturday in favor of the FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations bill "under protest." The legislation was approved by a 344-51 vote.

Ehlers, who chairs the Subcommittee on Environment, Standards and Technology of the House Science Committee, submitted a statement for the Congressional Record expressing his displeasure that the legislation included $227 million less for the NSF than requested by President Bush's budget request and $60 million less than NSF received last year. Ehlers, R-Michigan, said he was especially disappointed because he had lobbied hard for increased funding and had gathered the signatures of more than 150 of his colleagues supporting the position.

Chairman Ehlers' complete statement, with slight editing, follows:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my displeasure with the current state of the appropriations bills.

First, I regret that we are using an omnibus bill to finish the appropriations process for FY 2005. It is not a good procedure, under any circumstances, when we are required to vote on a bill with insufficient time for review, especially a bill as important as appropriations for most of government funding other than Defense and Homeland Security.

My most serious concern with the omnibus bill is the appropriation for the National Science Foundation, (NSF), which is $227 million below the President's request for FY 2005. The amount is even $60 million lower than last year's appropriation primarily in the critical areas of research and education, and even reduces the support for basic research. (This cut is before accounting for the .80 percent across-the-board reduction to all accounts, meaning the cut is actually larger than $60 million.)  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.

While I understand the need to make hard choices in the face of fiscal constraint, I do not see the wisdom in putting science funding far behind other priorities. We have cut NSF despite the fact that this omnibus bill increases spending for the 2005 fiscal year, so clearly we could find room to grow basic research while maintaining fiscal constraint. But not only are we not keeping pace with inflationary growth, we are actually cutting the portion basic research receives in the overall budget.

NSF has been praised as a model of administrative efficiency--over 95 percent of its funds go directly to support education and research programs. Former OMB director, Mitch Daniels, praised NSF as a model of administrative efficiency and called NSF one of the "true centers of excellence in this government" for its low overhead costs and efficient use of tax dollars. Furthermore, NSF has earned a reputation as the premiere basic research institution, despite receiving only 4 percent of the total federal research and development budget. I am concerned about the kind of message that we are sending by cutting funding of agencies, such as NSF, that succeed so well with already-lean budgets, while rewarding less-efficient agencies by increasing their funding.

This decision shows dangerous disregard for our nation's future, and I am both concerned and astonished that we would make this decision at a time when other nations continue to surpass our students in math and science and consistently increase their funding of basic research. We cannot hope to fight jobs lost to international competition without a well-trained and educated workforce. If we want to remain competitive in the international marketplace, we must provide funding that stimulates innovation and supports education.

Within our borders, NSF supports technological innovation that has been, and remains, crucial to the sustained economic prosperity that America has enjoyed for several decades. This innovation is made possible, in large measure, by NSF support of basic scientific research, particularly in the physical sciences. Research at NSF not only underpins physical science research, but lays the foundation for work in the health sciences and medicine as well. Reducing this funding is extremely short-sighted.

While I strongly oppose the reduced budget for the National Science Foundation, I recognize that the omnibus bill contains many important pieces of legislation that are necessary to pass. Therefore, under protest, I will vote for the bill, but my vote does not in any way represent my approval for the funding cuts to the NSF.

Posted by PeterHarsha at November 22, 2004 08:37 PM | TrackBack
Posted to Funding