This blog from ASPB's public affairs unit will provide updates on policy developments in Washington and other plant biology news impacting the ASPB community. Please send any news, comments, or suggestions to ASPB's public affairs director, Adam Fagen, at email@example.com
Policy Archives available under Group Pages.
The U.S. Congress left for the August recess without passing a single fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bill. When Congress returns on September 8, there will be a limited number of days to reach agreement on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government into the new fiscal year, which begins October 1. Whileneither the House nor Senate anticipate a government shutdown, consideration of the CR is likely to be complicated by the significant divide between the House and Senate over the President’s request for emergency supplemental appropriations to address the immigration crisis at the Southern border. This supplemental is likely to be part of the negotiations on and attached to the CR.
Status of Bills
The House of Representatives has passed its versions of seven of the 12 annual appropriations bills. The Senate hasn’t passed any of its bills. With Congress planning to leave again for the month of October to campaign in advance of the November mid-terms, a CR will be needed to continue operations of the federal government until Congress returns for a “lame duck” session following the elections. Recent statements from congressional leadership, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), suggest that the CR will continue federal funding into December to allow Congress to return after the elections and chart the path forward. That path could include negotiations on an omnibus appropriations bill to provide federal agencies with a full-year budget similar to the FY 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, an extension of the CR for a full year, or an extension of the CR into next year when a new Congress is sworn in and can revisit the bills.
What to Expect
If the past is any guide, Congress is likely to consider a short-term CR that funds programs at the FY 2014 enacted (or current) level. While the top-line funding allocations may be at the FY 2014 level, federal agencies have some discretion for how they administer a CR. Some agencies may allocate funding at about 90 percent of the usual rate. Agencies may also consider funding programs at the lower of the President’s FY 2015 budget request, the House bill, the Senate bill, or the FY 2014 enacted level. Although for a short period of time, with the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming elections and particularly the outcome of the Senate races, federal agencies are likely to be restrictive in allocating funding until Congress decides how to complete the FY 2015 appropriations process.
A final appropriations endgame will depend on the political climate resulting from the mid-terms. While many theories exist as to what various outcomes could mean for legislating during the lame duck, a “status quo” result where Republicans hold the House and Democrats maintain their Senate majority is the scenario most likely to allow for an omnibus bill. The outlook for the lame duck would become more uncertain if Republicans net the six seats necessary to take control of the Senate.
Faculty should contact their agency program managers closer to October about how their current awards will be managed under a CR.
Even as Congress is mired in the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations process and will have to enact a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government beginning October 1, the Obama Administration is gearing up to draft the President’s FY 2016 budget request to Congress.
As previously reported, on May 5, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued guidance to federal agencies on the development of the President’s FY 2016 budget request. On July 18, OMB and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued their annual memorandum outlining the President’s science and technology priorities for the next budget. During the summer and fall, federal departments and agencies will be making their case for initiatives and program priorities to be included in the President’s budget request, which is to be released in February.
In the May 5 memorandum, OMB encourages agencies to build on the President’s priority areas by reducing spending on lower priority programs to fund investments in programs such as “education, innovation, infrastructure and security.” OMB also urges agencies to identify management efficiencies to improve government operations.
In a departure from past budget guidance, OMB provides a less draconian budget scenario of a 2 percent reduction below the net discretionary total projected for an agency in the President’s FY 2015 budget request. This reduction is to apply to both defense and non-defense discretionary spending provided in annual appropriations acts to give the President options to consider as he seeks funding for Administration priorities. Agencies are also encouraged to identify budget savings proposals in mandatory programs. Last year’s budget guidance sought proposed budget reductions of 5 and 10 percent.
The budget scenario hints that the President’s budget is likely to again include a separate “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative” for both defense and non-defense investments above current spending caps. OMB instructs agencies to identify additional investments in effective programs that are up to 5 percent above the regular budget submission. These investments are to be ranked in priority order.
In the July 18 science and technology specific memorandum, OMB and OSTP underscore the importance of federal funding for research and development (R&D) to meet the nation’s needs. They note the importance of science, technology, and innovation to the nation’s economy through job creation, and the many benefits to all Americans from these investments.
The priorities of the Obama Administration remain quite consistent with past budget submissions. The Administration again encourages agencies to identify “Grand Challenges” that require significant advances and may require high-risk research. Agencies are encouraged to be creative in supplementing traditional funding mechanisms, such as grants and contracts, with more market-based incentives, such as “prizes.” The White House also encourages agencies to pursue international partnerships to advance Administration priorities, such as in global health and development, and to share the cost of large research projects, with a caution to ensure strong management procedures.
The Administration also directs agencies to align federal investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education with the Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan with a goal of reducing program duplication and fragmentation and improving program effectiveness. Recognizing continued budget constraints, OSTP and OMB task agencies to redirect available resources from lower-priority programs to science and technology activities supporting key multi-agency research priorities.
• Advanced manufacturing and industries of the future: As part of its economic revitalization strategy, the Obama Administration wants to advance state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities. The Administration emphasizes government-industry-university partnerships to pursue industries of the future, such as nanotechnology, robotics, materials development, and cyber-physical systems.
• Clean energy: The President continues to advance an “all of the above” energy strategy to promote energy security and energy independence. The Administration wants to promote American leadership in renewable energy technologies, citing manufacturing and developing a modern electricity grid; improving energy efficiency in buildings, homes, and industrial production; and developing a new 21st century transportation system that could bring the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Transportation together in R&D.
• Earth observations: The Administration emphasizes the need for interagency cooperation to integrate Earth-system data and to maximize observational coverage to protect human life, property, the economy, and national security.
• Global climate change: Agencies are directed to advance the recommendations of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and the President’s Climate Action Plan. • Information technology and high-performance computing: The Obama Administration emphasizes the need for investments to expand big data collection and support discovery science. Agencies are directed to address plans for cybersecurity R&D to protect U.S. computer systems from cyber attacks. The Administration emphasizes interagency collaboration and coordination with the private sector to promote innovation in high- performance computing.
• Innovation in life sciences, biology, and neuroscience: The White House highlights the importance of investments in biological discovery research that could greatly advance health, energy, food security, and technologies outlined in key Administration studies. The White House also emphasizes the need to support research to benefit service members and veterans’ mental health. In an anticipated initiative, the Administration highlights the challenges associated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the need to develop new countermeasures.
• National and homeland security: Recognizing continued external threats, the Obama Administration reiterates the need to support balance in basic and applied research and advanced technology development. Specific areas of interest include “hypersonics, countering weapons of mass destruction, accelerated training techniques, and handling large data sets for national-security mission requirements.”
• R&D for informed policy-making and management: In a final category, the White House acknowledges the need for “user-driven information and tools to ensure science investments more directly support decision-making.” Both OMB and OSTP acknowledge the continuing constraints under existing budget caps; however, it seems clear that the Administration will again segment the FY 2016 budget request. There will be a base budget that complies with existing budget caps, and a separate fund along the lines of the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative that will propose additional investments in priority programs, such as clean energy, research, education, etc. above current spending limitations. While the Administration is likely to propose offsetting savings to pay for these additional investments, if the current year is any guide, they are unlikely to be acceptable to the Congress.
• Memorandum M-14-07, Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Guidance, May 5, 2014, Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, D.C., http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2014/m-14-07.pdf.
• Memorandum M-14-11, Science and Technology Priorities for the FY 2016 Budget, July 18, 2014, Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C., http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/m-14-11.pdf.
Posted By Tyrone Spady,
Friday, June 13, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014
On June 11, the U.S. House of Representatives began debate on the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2015. Progress was made on several amendments before the House leadership set the bill aside for possible action later this summer. The unexpected defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in his primary brought House legislative action to a halt, and a White House veto threat against the bill led to further action being deferred.
On May 29, the full House Appropriations Committee approved the bill on a bipartisan vote. The House bill totals $20.9 billion in discretionary spending, which is approximately equal to the current level. The overall bill, including both discretionary and mandatory spending, totals $142.5 billion. The House Committee estimates that the overall bill is $1.5 billion below the President’s request and $3 billion below the FY 2014 enacted level.
Overall spending on the FY 2015 appropriations bills totals $1.014 trillion, which is essentially a freeze at the FY 2014 enacted level. The House Agriculture Appropriations bill is one of the few non-defense bills that is slated to receive approximately the same level of discretionary funding as for the current year.
For the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) major research agencies, the House bill recommends a total of nearly $2.6 billion, which is approximately $150 million above the FY 2014 enacted level. For the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the House bill would provide $1.12 billion for salaries and expenses in FY 2015, a reduction of $2.2 million below the FY 2014 level and $15.9 million (1.4 percent) above the President’s budget request. During the Committee consideration of the bill, an amendment was adopted to add $155 million for the ARS Buildings and Facilities program for the repair, improvement, or construction of facilities. The cost was offset by reduction other non-research accounts in the bill. No funding was requested by the President for ARS Buildings and Facilities.
For the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the House bill would provide $1.27 billion, which is $3.3 million below the FY 2014 enacted level and $61.7 million (4.6 percent) below the President’s budget request. Within NIFA, the Committee would support competitive research through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) by recommending $325 million, an increase of $8.6 million (2.7 percent) above the FY 2014 enacted level and the same as the President’s budget request and the Senate-reported bill. The House bill does not include funding for the Administration’s three proposed Innovation Institutes for which $75 million was requested. The Senate-reported bill also does not fund the Innovation Institutes.
Additionally, within NIFA, the House Committee also supports key formula funding for the nation’s land-grant institutions, providing a proposed $243.7 million for formula assistance under the Hatch Act and $300.0 million for cooperative extension activities under the Smith-Lever Act 3(b) and 3(c) programs. These recommendations for the formula grants are the same as the FY 2014 enacted levels and match the President’s budget request and the Senate-reported bill.
For the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the bill would provide $1.0 billion, which is $5.5 million (<1 percent) below the FY 2014 enacted level and $3.8 million (<1 percent) above the President’s budget request.
This bill would also provide new appropriations of $2.57 billion for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is $22.2 million above the FY 2014 enacted level and $1.3 million below the President’s budget request. The Committee proposes $4.48 billion in total funding, including user-fees, for the agency.
The House Committee would provide $1.8 billion for overseas food aid, including the “Food for Peace” program. The bill also includes a $13 million increase of the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program for a total recommendation of $198.1 million.
While progress was made on the bill during its consideration by the full House on June 11, there are several amendments and issues that are expected to be raised if the bill is revisited. During Subcommittee and full Committee consideration of the bill, Democratic members took issue with provisions in the bill that would allow USDA to grant waivers to school lunch programs having difficulty, including economic hardships, meeting new standards for fresh fruits and vegetables. Amendments to strike the waiver language from the bill failed, but are expected to be offered as floor amendments. Subcommittee members also objected to the inclusion of white potatoes as an approved commodity under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and to the exclusion of urban children in a pilot summer food program. Concerns were also raised with the proposed funding level for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which is charged with oversight under the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, and the need for additional funding for food safety programs.
The Administration has issued a veto threat against this bill. The Administration objects to the inclusion of a provision in the bill that would allow USDA to grant waivers to school lunch programs having difficulty meeting new standards for fresh fruits and vegetables. The White House characterizes this as injecting “political decision-making into science-based nutrition standards.” First Lady Michelle Obama has stated her concern and strong objection to this provision in the bill, which could undermine her efforts to combat childhood obesity. The Administration also objects to the lack of funding for financial oversight, and raises issues over the inclusion of white potatoes in the WIC food package. Among other provisions, the Administration states its concern that the Committee does not provide funding for the three proposed innovation institutes.
Additional funding details can be found in the chart below.
House Agriculture Appropriations Bill, FY 2015
Approved by House Appropriations Committee on May 29, 2014
FY 2014 Enacted
FY 2015 Request
FY 2015 House
House vs. FY 2014 Enacted
House vs. FY 2015 Request
USDA, Research, Education, Economics
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)
Hispanic Serving Institutions Education Grants
Hispanic Serving Agriculture Colleges and Universities
Posted By Tyrone Spady,
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014
On May 6, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee announced the preliminary subcommittee allocations for the purpose of writing the 12 annual spending bills. As anticipated, Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) set the subcommittee allocations within the overall spending limitation of $1.014 trillion agreed to in the two-year bipartisan Balanced Budget Act of 2013. Last month, House Republicans narrowly passed a fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget resolution that would have reduced federal spending by $5.1 trillion over the next 10 years to balance the budget. The budget resolution, if implemented, would have required significant reductions in the appropriations bills. With the Senate deferring action on a budget resolution, the House Republican leadership tacitly agreed to abide by the spending caps currently in law.
By adhering to the two-year budget agreement, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have an opportunity to consider the annual spending bills in an orderly way and with hope that some might be enacted into law before the October 1 start of the new fiscal year. In a very partisan election year with the Senate Democratic majority looking vulnerable, it can be expected that controversial policy issues will again complicate the appropriations process.
The House Appropriations Committee upholds the “firewall” between defense and non-defense spending enacted in the bipartisan budget agreement. The Act provides $521.3 billion in FY 2015 for defense programs, excluding funding associated with the war in Afghanistan (“Overseas Contingency Operations”), and $492.4 billion for non-defense programs. In previous years, House Republicans have increased overall spending for defense by reallocating non-defense spending to those programs. With both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees abiding by the “firewall” between defense and non-defense spending, it could improve the odds for some of the bills to be enacted.
The House Subcommittee allocations for the FY 2015 appropriations bills could also help pave the way for enactment of some of the less controversial bills even with overall spending essentially at a freeze compared to FY 2014.
· The Defense Subcommittee would receive nearly $491 billion in regular appropriations, excluding funding to support the war in Afghanistan, which has not yet been requested by the President. This is approximately $4.1 billion above the FY 2014 enacted level.
·The increase for the Defense Subcommittee comes in part from reductions in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, which is allocated $1.8 billion below the FY 2014 enacted level.
·The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee, the largest non-defense bill which funds the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Education, would receive $155.7 billion, a reduction of approximately $1.08 billion below the FY 2014 enacted level, but an improvement over last year’s House allocation.
·The Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee would receive nearly $1.2 billion above the FY 2014 enacted level, largely due to the need for additional highway spending.
·The Interior-Environment Subcommittee, which funds the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey, would fare better than last year’s House allocation, receiving $162 million above the FY 2014 level for a total of $30.2 billion.
·The Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee, which funds the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is slated for a reduction of about $398 million below the FY 2014 enacted level; however, the House Subcommittee has approved a $51.2 billion bill that provides an increase of more than $200 million above the current level for both NSF and NASA.
·The Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, which funds the Department of Energy Office of Science and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), would receive $34.0 billion, which is $50 million less than the FY 2014 level.
·The Homeland Security Subcommittee would also be funded about $50 million below the current level for a total of nearly $39.2 billion.
·The Financial Services Subcommittee allocation would be $575 million below the FY 2014 enacted level at $21.3 billion.
·Three House Subcommittees would receive essentially the same allocation as in FY 2014. They are the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee at $20.9 billion for FY 2015; the Legislative Branch Subcommittee at about $4.3 billion; and the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee at about $42.4 billion.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs and Ranking Members are committed to trying to move all 12 annual spending bills through Congress this year. The fact that both Committees agree to live by the overall spending limitation and the firewall between defense and non-defense spending in the two-year budget agreement alleviates significant roadblocks to moving the bills through Committee. It is important to reiterate, however, that electoral politics and divisive policy issues, such as the Affordable Care Act, gun control, environmental and other issues could derail the hope of completing stand alone spending bills this year.
Posted By Tyrone Spady,
Friday, May 02, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014
On May 1, 2014, the National Science Board (NSB), the policymaking body of the National Science Foundation (NSF), released a report entitled, “Reducing Investigators' Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research.” The report outlines a number of recommendations to eliminate, harmonize, and streamline rules and regulations, while acknowledging the need to be transparent, accountable, and safe in carrying out federally funded research.
Given the range of funding agencies and organizations that would be involved in implementing the recommendations of this report, it is uncertain how quickly or if at all the recommendations will be addressed. While Congress remains concerned at the administrative burdens placed on researchers, an additional barrier to reducing such burdens is the pressure on federal agencies to demonstrate the value and impact of federal research spending.
As Lewis-Burke previously reported, in December 2012, NSB established a Task Force on Administrative Burdens to examine the administrative workload of federally funded researchers. In March 2013, NSB released a request for information (RFI), which received thousands of replies from researchers supported by a range of funding agencies. The RFI responses along with a series of community roundtables and discussions with other federal agencies provided input to the report.
Through this consultation with the community, NSB identified the following areas being most associated with high administrative workload: financial management; grant proposal process; progress reporting; human subjects research and institutional review boards (IRBs); time and effort reporting; research involving animals and institutional animal care and use committees (IACUCs); and personnel management. The report identifies the following key recommendations:
1. Focus on the Science – peer-review and post-award oversight should focus on merit and achievement.
a. Agencies should modify proposal requirements to focus on evaluating the merit of the proposed research.
b. Annual progress reports should be limited to research outcomes.
2. Eliminate or Modify Ineffective Regulations
a. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should provide clarification on the process of time and effort reporting.
b. Support a number of recently proposed reforms to regulations governing human subjects research.
c. An evaluation of all regulations, policies, guidance, and best practices related to improving the care and use of animals to be carried out.
d. Balance conflict of interest (COI) with support for university-industry partnerships.
e. Re-examine safety and security requirements.
3.Harmonize and Streamline Requirements
a. Federal agencies to accelerate harmonization of grant process.
b. Harmonize audit process to be based on regulatory requirements.
c.Establish a permanent high-level, interagency committee to oversee recommendations in this report.
4. Increase University Efficiency and Effectiveness
a. Universities should clearly communicate origin of compliance requirements.
b. Agencies to collaborate with universities and research organizations to identify best practices to manage administrative burdens.
c. Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) staff to provide researchers with support in the preparation and modification of protocols.
Posted By Tyrone Spady,
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014
On April 29, the Senate Committee on Appropriations held a hearing entitled “Driving Innovation through Federal Investments.” The hearing was well-attended and featured the following witnesses: Dr. John P. Holdren, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP); Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary, Department of Energy (DOE); Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH); Dr. France A. Córdova, Director, National Science Foundation (NSF); and Dr. Arati Prabhakar, Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the role of federally-funded research in driving innovation, improving quality of life and national security, creating American jobs, and growing the U.S. economy. While there is strong bipartisan support for innovation and committee members expressed agreement on the need to keep within the limits of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, it was apparent by statements made at the hearing that how to address the budget deficit remains a partisan issue.
Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) opened the hearing by acknowledging the importance of the budget deficit, but asked, “…are we being so austere that we are limiting our future growth?” She expressed concern that budget cuts would contribute to an innovation deficit. Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) used his opening statement to highlight the federal debt, government oversight to ensure the most effective programs are supported, and the importance of public-private partnerships. Other committee members were very supportive of investments in research and discussed how to address concerns that the current fiscal environment is capping long-term growth.
Key themes discussed during the hearing included:
·U.S. leadership in science and engineering – federal investments in science and technology are decreasing in terms of percentage of GDP and China would soon overtake the U.S.
·Best practices to enhance the innovation process to take basic research from the lab to commercialization and partner with industry.
·Milestones and deliverables for the Administration’s BRAIN Initiative.
·Success of the DARPA model and how best practices might be shared across other agencies.
·Role of Congress in directing NIH to invest in specific diseases and how this may limit studies of rare diseases and new discoveries.
·Support for the EPSCoR and IDeA programs and the need to increase opportunities for undergraduates, women, and underrepresented groups across the U.S.
·Challenges facing early career faculty and the need for stable growth across funding agencies to maintain the pipeline of researchers.
·Activities across federal agencies in weather forecasting and infrastructure investments.
In addition to the expert witness comments, the Committee received input on this issue through more than 100 written testimonies submitted by outside organizations.
Posted By Tyrone Spady,
Friday, March 14, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014
On March 13, the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology considered and approved by voice vote the “Keeping America FIRST: Federal Investments in Research, Science, and Technology at NSF, NIST, OSTP and Interagency STEM Programs.” The approval is the first official Committee action towards reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act. A date for bill consideration by the full House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has not yet been announced. The Senate has not yet released a draft COMPETES bill, but it is expected to have substantial differences from the House version.
As Lewis-Burke has previously reported (see below), the FIRST Act would cover the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). In a major change from the discussion draft released last fall, the bill considered by the Subcommittee would authorize funding for the three agencies while also detailing authorization levels for specific Directorates within the NSF Research and Related Activities Account.
The research community has a number of concerns with the bill that Democrats on the Subcommittee echoed during consideration. The largest concern is with authorization levels in the bill that would provide growth lower than inflation for NSF and NIST in fiscal year (FY) 2015 and would cut authorization levels for the NSF Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) by over 40 percent from current levels in FY 2014 and FY 2015. Democratic Members of the Subcommittee decried the low authorization levels in the bill and offered a number of amendments to raise the SBE authorization levels or eliminate the detailed authorization levels for individual Directorates. These amendments were mostly defeated on a party-line vote except for one by Subcommittee Ranking Member Dan Lipinski (D-IL) that restored about half of the cuts to SBE.
Other areas of concern to the research community that were addressed in the markup include a provision that would limit the amount NSF can spend for employing staff under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) and a provision that would establish new procedures at NSF on research misconduct. Democratic amendments on both issues were withdrawn after the Majority agreed to work with the amendment sponsors to change these sections. Additionally, an amendment from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) that would strike the public access section of the bill failed on a party line vote.
The bill approved by the Subcommittee has some significant changes from the discussion draft that Lewis-Burke reported on last fall. Apart from the addition of authorization levels, the biggest changes were to a section requiring increased accountability for research grants at NSF. The section still requires certification that projects funded by NSF address one of six generic goals, but the language has been clarified to state that “nothing in this section shall be construed as altering the Foundation’s intellectual merit or broader impacts criteria for evaluating grant applications.” The certification could also now be done by a program director instead of the NSF director and would not have to be posted before the public issuing of the award.
Other changes in the bill include the removal of several sections: a provision on social and behavioral sciences at NSF that was potentially confusing; a section that repealed the sustainable chemistry program; and a provision that would direct NSF to evaluate the importance and benefits of non-United States citizens funded by federal science agencies. The bill also has new sections authorizing informal and formal STEM education programs at NSF.
Please see below for previous Lewis-Burke reports on the FIRST Act and COMPETES reauthorization.
Posted By Tyrone Spady,
Friday, March 14, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014
One year since Dr. Suresh departed as Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. France Córdova has been confirmed as the new Director for NSF. More details on Dr. Córdova are included below along with updates on the announcement of the new Assistant Director for the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE), and leadership of the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO).
Dr. France Córdova Confirmed as New NSF Director
On March 12, Dr. France Córdova was confirmed by the Senate as the new Director of NSF. Dr. Córdova is expected to begin her new role on April 1, 2014.
As Lewis-Burke has previously reported, Dr. Córdova was nominated by President Obama in July 2013 to serve a six year term. Dr. Córdova will take over from Dr. Cora Marrett who has been the Acting Director since Dr. Subra Suresh left at the end of March 2013 to become president of Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Marrett will return to her position as Deputy Director.
Dr. Córdova is President Emeritus of Purdue University and is currently the chair of the Board of Regents of theSmithsonian Institution, as well as a member of the National Science Board (NSB). Dr. Córdova served as President of Purdue University from 2007 to 2012. Before joining Purdue University, she was Chancellor of the University of California at Riverside from 2002 to 2007 and Vice Chancellor for Research and Professor of Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1996 to 2002. Dr. Córdova is an astrophysicist with a B.A in English from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology. Following her Ph.D., Dr. Córdova spent 10 years working in the Space Astronomy and Astrophysics Group at theLos Alamos National Laboratory. From 1993 to 1996, she was the NASA Chief Scientist. Dr. Córdova was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008 and is a national associate of the National Academies. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS).
Other Updates on NSF Staff
Additionally, Dr. John Wingfield, Assistant Director for the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) will be leaving NSF at the end of September 2014. The search for his replacement is ongoing and interviews will be taking place shortly. The Deputy Assistant Director for BIO, Dr. Joann P. Roskoski is due to retire at the end of March and will be replaced by Dr. Jane Silverthorne. Dr. Silverthorne is currently the Division Director for the BIO Division of Integrative Organismal Systems.
Posted By Tyrone Spady,
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014
Only a month removed from the final fiscal year (FY) 2014 spending decisions in Congress and with the FY 2015 discretionary spending caps largely the same, President Obama released his FY 2015 budget request on March 4th, a month after the required February submission to Congress and with many on Capitol Hill already moving into the appropriations process.
The budget request presents a very mixed picture in which the President reflects a forecast for non-profit organizations which is in part optimistic, while proposing new programs which appeal to his base in an election year. Based in part on bipartisan supported initiatives such as advanced manufacturing and exascale computing, the request continually touts the virtues of research and education to enable the economy of the future. In addition, the request proposes several new initiatives, such as a competitive graduate medical education program and incentives for colleges and universities which graduate large cohorts of Pell-eligible students, but bases these ideas on difficult offsets and at a time when many in Congress are unable or unwilling to accommodate new proposals. Finally, reflecting the continuing pressures on research, health, and education organizations, the request would make substantial cuts to provider payments such as indirect medical education, would squeeze defense basic research accounts in favor of more applied or translational initiatives, and includes the proposed college rating system trumpeted by the President during his annual State of the Union speech.
Overall, adhering to the two year budgetary framework (P.L. 113-67) passed in December 2013, the budget request includes $1.014 trillion in discretionary spending, a level which is largely consistent with FY 2014. The request also includes the continued partial offset to sequestration in FY 2015. While there is unlikely to be much debate over the overall spending levels, the total investment proposed for individual agencies, accounts, or programs will be adjusted by Congress in the annual appropriations process, especially in areas where substantial changes have been proposed from FY 2014 funding levels. Regardless, the annual budget request, reflecting nearly nine months of planning and negotiations by the White House Administration, does provide a window into forthcoming plans and priorities. The proposed increases for research, assessment, education, and infrastructure reflect areas of emphasis for the remaining two and a half years of the Obama Administration and benchmarks for which congressional champions will advocate throughout the appropriations process.
Going beyond the budget requests for each agency and the statutory caps, President Obama proposes a new $55.4 billion Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative (Opportunity Initiative), which includes numerous spending priorities such as advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, early education, infrastructure, etc. Beyond this stimulus-like fund, the budget proposes an ending of sequestration in FY 2016 and beyond through a combination of spending cuts, nearly $650 billion in added tax revenue, and from deficit reduction resulting from enactment of immigration reform legislation. While none of these politically charged proposals are expected to be taken up by Congress in this election year, it does provide specific initiatives around which Democrats are expected to rally and reinforces the looming fight which must be waged by the next Congress for FY 2016 and beyond with respect to overall spending and the fate of sequestration.
Posted By Tyrone Spady,
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 05, 2014
On January 27, House and Senate negotiators announced a final agreement on a five-year Farm Bill, completing a multi-year effort to reauthorize a broad suite of programs supporting the nation’s farmers and ranchers and nutrition programs assisting American families. The bipartisan Agriculture Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642) would result in a far-reaching reorganization of longstanding programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including crop insurance and commodity programs and nutrition assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/formerly food stamps). The final bill reauthorizes significant investments in agricultural research, including the creation of a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) established with $200 million in mandatory funding. The bill also consolidates conservation programs and repeals authorizations for programs that have never been funded to streamline federal agriculture programs.
The final agreement on the Farm Bill took a herculean effort by the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. House Chairman, Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK), touted the efforts to negotiate a bill with “significant savings and reforms.” His Senate counterpart, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), highlighted the importance of a Farm Bill “that saves taxpayers billions, eliminates unnecessary subsidies, creates a more effective farm safety-net and helps farmers and businesses create jobs.”
The Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN), stated he has some reservations about the bill, but they are “outweighed by the need to provide long term certainty for agriculture and nutrition programs.” Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, emphasized that “this agreement will provide greater certainty to producers and rural communities, as well as American consumers.”
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the final Farm Bill would result in direct spending of $956 billion over the next ten years, of which $756 billion would be for nutrition programs. The bill would reduce federal direct spending by an estimated $16.6 billion over ten years from current law projections. This bill governs spending on entitlement and mandatory programs that are not subject to annual appropriations action by Congress. It also authorizes appropriations for programs, such as USDA’s research, extension and education programs, which Congress must fund each year in the appropriations bills.
The USDA research and extension programs had strong bipartisan support throughout consideration of the Farm Bill with the final bill largely extending current programs. The bill would extend the authorization for intramural research through the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) through FY 2018. The bill would also reauthorize the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through FY 2018 and extend the authorization for NIFA’s extramural competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), at the current $700 million annual level. In the recently enacted Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY 2014, AFRI is funded at $316.4 million, an increase of $25.9 million (8.9 percent) above the FY 2013 pre-sequester level. The conferees also note the decrease in funding for production agriculture through AFRI and stress the importance of making basic animal health research a priority.
The conferees reached a compromise on a provision that would have required all institutions of higher education that are not land-grant institutions or designated non-land-grant institutions to provide a 1:1 match for NIFA funds if that institution was not partnering with a USDA entity or land-grant institution on the grant. After pushback from public institutions of higher education that were not designated as land-grant or non-land-grant institutions, the final bill includes one provision to somewhat work around the matching provision and another provision to clarify the process by which the designation as a non-land-grant institution is achieved. First, USDA can grant a waiver to the matching funds requirement if a grant involves “research or extension activities that are consistent with the priorities established by the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board.” Second, the bill requires USDA to “establish an ongoing process through which public colleges or universities may apply for designation as [a non-land grant college of agriculture]” as several institutions had said the process was unclear to them.
CBO estimates that the Research and Extension title of the final bill would result in $1.1 billion in mandatory spending over the next ten years. One of those mandatory programs is a major new initiative to boost agricultural research. The bill authorizes a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), which is established with $200 million in mandatory funding to remain available until expended. The conferees stress that FFAR should not duplicate current funding or research efforts, and that it should not offset or allow a reduction in annual appropriations for agricultural research. The purpose of FFAR is to foster public-private partnerships to identify and prioritize the most pressing needs of the agriculture sector. Funding from FFAR must be matched 1:1 with non-federal funding.
The bill would also reauthorize funding for the Extension Service and USDA education programs through FY 2018. The conferees continue mandatory funding, as well as authorize additional appropriations if Congress so chooses, for Specialty Crop Research, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension, and Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development.
The bill authorizes $80 million in mandatory funding for FY 2014 and each year thereafter to support research on specialty crops. It also extends the authorization of appropriations for specialty crop research through FY 2018. An Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Extension program is established to tackle citrus greening and other citrus diseases with $25 million in mandatory funding per year for FY 2014 through FY 2018, and a similar authorization of appropriations for this initiative.
An annual authorization of $20 million in mandatory funding per year for FY 2014 through FY 2018 is provided for competitive grants, including farm business management, for the Organic Research and Education Initiative. A similar $20 million in mandatory funding is provided to support the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers program for each year for FY 2014 through FY 2018 with an extension of the authorization for additional appropriations through FY 2018. The program is also expanded to include veterans.
The final Farm Bill has no provisions affecting the current formula grant programs for land-grant institutions. Formula programs authorized under the Hatch Act and Smith-Lever Act have open-ended authorizations for appropriations at “such sums as may be necessary.”
The bill does not address the indirect cost rate as the 2008 Farm Bill did. The indirect cost rate remains at the current level of 30 percent established in the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act.
Also within the research title, the conferees would establish a new program to recruit and support veterinarians, for which the nation faces a shortage. The bill would authorize $10 million per year for FY 2014 and each following fiscal year for these grants.
The bipartisan Farm Bill would extend existing energy programs affecting rural areas, including the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI), which would be extended for five years through FY 2018. The conferees would provide $3 million in mandatory funding for BRDI each year for FY 2014 through FY 2017 and would authorize appropriations at $20 million annually through FY 2018. The bill provides an estimated $879 million in mandatory spending to continue the Repowering Assistance Program, the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, the Rural Energy for America Program, and the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program.
The final bill achieves most of the deficit reduction by eliminating direct and countercyclical payments for major commodity programs, such as wheat, corn, soybeans, etc. The conferees replace these programs with strengthened crop insurance programs to enhance the ability of farmers to manage risk. Crop insurance helps protect farmers during difficult times, from unexpected spikes in food prices, and in cases of natural disaster, such as the spring freezes that affected fruit crops last year. The conference agreement would also provide a permanent livestock disaster assistance program to assist producers affected by natural disasters. These provisions will assist producers affected by recent drought and winter storms that decimated livestock herds in the Northern Plains last year. CBO estimates net savings from the commodity programs at $14.3 billion over ten years. The crop insurance provisions are estimated to cost an additional $5.7 billion over ten years above the base program.
The conferees agree to numerous provisions that would eliminate duplication and consolidate federal programs, such as conservation programs. The final bill consolidates 23 existing conservation programs into 13, and also includes provisions to strengthen and streamline programs to protect land, water, and wildlife resources. The bill would save nearly $4 billion over ten years from proposed changes in conservation programs.
The nutrition programs were one of the most contentious issues in the Farm Bill. The conferees compromised making reforms to SNAP which will save an estimated $8 billion over ten years. The House-passed bill saved nearly $39 billion from SNAP and other nutrition programs over ten years, whereas the Senate-passed bill saved nearly $4 billion over ten years.
The final issue to be resolved was creating a balanced dairy program for a sector which has both large and small producers. A new margin insurance program was negotiated to close the final conference issue.
• The text of the final conference agreement on H.R. 2642, the Agriculture Act of 2014, can be found at http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20140127/CRPT-113hrpt-HR2642.pdf.
• The statement of managers accompanying the bill can be found at http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20140127/CRPT-113hrpt-HR2642-SOM.pdf.
• The cost estimate of bill by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) can be found at http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/hr2642LucasLtr.pdf.
Posted By Tyrone Spady,
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014
Seizing their best opportunity to shape federal spending decisions for the next year, members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees late on Monday night (January 13) released an omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2014. If approved, the bill would provide a needed boost for federal research, education, and healthcare programs important to research universities and non-profit research institutions. Somewhat surprisingly, the omnibus includes all 12 of the annual spending bills. The more controversial appropriations bills—including Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Interior and Environment—were expected to require continuing resolutions (CRs) to fund programs at current levels for the remainder of FY 2014, particularly after a stalemate over issues such as funding for the healthcare reform law caused a halt in appropriations negotiations and a shutdown of the federal government in October. Reaching agreement on all 12 bills is a victory for appropriators who have seen their influence decline in recent years as gridlock on major funding issues coupled with increased partisanship made CRs commonplace.
As drafted, the sprawling omnibus bill adheres to the $1.012 trillion top line spending level established by the Ryan-Murray budget agreement approved by Congress last month. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) were able to negotiate a package that contains concessions for both parties and is free of many of the divisive policy riders that threatened to derail progress. If the House and Senate approve the bill as expected, the omnibus will avert the threat of another government shutdown and represent a reassertion of congressional power to set spending priorities across the federal government.
With some relief from sequestration for two years and support for new initiatives in the omnibus, many federal research agencies and programs fare well in the agreement. The Department of Energy Office of Science, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and science and technology programs at the Department of Defense are among those slated to receive increases above FY 2013 levels (post-sequestration). As evidenced by the proposed omnibus, research and development, and particularly basic research, remains a bipartisan priority for Members of Congress despite constrained total spending levels. The House may begin consideration of the bill as soon as Wednesday (January 15) with the Senate to follow later in the week. Congress must approve the bill prior to the January 18 expiration of the short-term CR set to be enacted to allow Congress additional time to complete the omnibus.
Posted By Tyrone Spady,
Friday, November 08, 2013
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014
In the past two weeks, Congress has initiated its work to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, which was originally passed in 2007 in response to the National Academies’ Rising Above the Gathering Storm report. The legislation authorized doubling the funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). COMPETES was last reauthorized for fiscal year (FY) 2011-2013, resulting in its expiration on September 30, 2013. While the Senate is working on a bipartisan effort to reauthorize COMPETES, House Republicans and Democrats are each working on their own versions of the reauthorization. As of right now, House Democrats have released a discussion draft of a comprehensive bill, whereas House Republicans are planning to move forward on two separate bills: the FIRST ACT will cover NSF and NIST; and the Einstein America Act will cover the DOE Office of Science.
A major point of contention that has emerged in discussion drafts is levels of reauthorization for the agencies covered. For example, authorization levels for DOE’s Office of Science are almost a billion dollars higher in the draft Senate bill over the draft House Republican bill for FY 2015. Another substantial area of expected disagreement is the extent of congressional oversight of grant policies and research directions. These significant differences will make it challenging to come to a consensus on final legislation.
On November 6, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing entitled “America COMPETES: Science and the U.S. Economy.” This was the first hearing to kick off the Senate’s COMPETES activity. The main issues discussed at the Senate hearing included sequestration, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, and innovation. The Committee is strongly supportive of basic research and the need to authorize a continued doubling of budgets for the science agencies to ensure the foundation for continued U.S. economic growth.
Throughout the hearing Democratic Members of the Committee highlighted the harmful, indeterminate effects of sequestration on basic research. Committee Chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), stated that, “Sequestration’s indiscriminate cuts are costing us dearly... That means fewer grants, less support for young researchers, and even scientists moving their work abroad.”
Two panels testified before the Committee, with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), an original co-sponsor of the 2007 COMPETES legislation, being the lone participant on the first panel. The second panel included: Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, Vice Chairman of the National Science Board and Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma; Dr. Saul Perlmutter, Professor of Physics at University of California, Berkeley and Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Dr. Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College; and Dr. Stephen Tang, President and CEO of the University City Science Center.
In his testimony, Senator Alexander highlighted the need to “finish the job” of doubling basic research funding to maintain the “high standard of living” in the U.S. Senator Alexander stated that, “governing is about setting priorities,” and the reauthorization of the America COMPETES legislation should double research, reduce waste, and approve necessary programs.
The second panel discussed a wide range of topics related to COMPETES. Dr. Droegemeier discussed the importance of basic research and the role of NSF in the U.S. research and innovation ecosystem; he gave examples of economic and societal benefits that have come from basic research, and also highlighted the NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) as a role model for capacity-building and enhancing competitiveness. Dr. Perlmutter highlighted the need to attract the next generation of researchers to ensure the U.S. remains a world leader in scientific research and to prevent brain drain with leading researchers moving overseas. He described how curiosity-driven research can lead to surprising results that may help “secure a better future,” with new discoveries often building on 30 plus years of research. Dr. Klawe talked about STEM education and the need for additional investment to develop innovative teaching models to ensure more women and minority students study STEM subjects such as computer science. Finally, Dr. Tang described the positive impact of the COMPETES Act in innovation and commercialization and the need for increased support in this area. He also highlighted the TRANSFER Act, which would allocate existing funding to proof-of-concept activities and validate the commercial potential of early-stage research.
The hearing was well attended by both the public and Committee Members. In addition to Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member John Thune (R-SD), Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Tim Scott (R-SC), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) all attended portions of the hearing.
In addition to the Commerce Committee hearing, Senator Alexander has released a discussion draft for the energy portion of COMPETES that would set authorization levels for the Office of Science and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy on a doubling track over five years reaching $6.877 billion and $440.12 million respectively by FY 2018. The draft also cancels unused authorizations from previous COMPETES bills and provides very little additional guidance on policy or research priorities for DOE.
The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has already begun their COMPETES reauthorization process. As mentioned above, House Republicans are planning to introduce two separate bills with House Democrats wanting to introduce a comprehensive COMPETES reauthorization bill. Majority and Minority discussion drafts of the proposed legislation have been circulating and deal with a myriad of issues ranging from computing and STEM education to public access and technology transfer/commercialization.
The Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on October 30, entitled, “Providing the Tools for Scientific Discovery and Basic Energy Research: The Department of Energy Science Mission.” The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the DOE Office of Science in preparation for the formal introduction of the Subcommittee’s Einstein America Act. At the Subcommittee hearing, witnesses included Pat Dehmer, Deputy Director for Science Programs in the Office of Science at DOE; Horst Simon, Deputy Director at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and John Hemminger, Chair of the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee for DOE.
The Einstein America Act would reauthorize the programs of the DOE Office of Science for two years. Reflecting the continuing pressure on discretionary spending, the proposed bill would authorize funding at $4.7 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2014, a 1.7 percent increase above current levels and one percent above the level in the pending House-passed version of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for FY 2014. The bill proposes a $4.75 billion authorization level for the Office of Science for FY 2015. The Einstein America Act does not include language related to ARPA-E; we expect the House Subcommittee to do a separate bill for ARPA-E.
The proposed Einstein America Act would authorize a Light Source Leadership Initiative within the Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES). It also includes language authorizing DOE to pursue exascale computing through the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program. The bill would direct the Department to maintain U.S. facilities for underground scientific research working with the Office of High Energy Physics and the Office of Nuclear Physics.
The Subcommittee Members questioned the panel on a variety of topics. Chairwoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) highlighted the importance of “fundamental science and basic research” to “long-term economic competitiveness.” She noted the 113 Nobel Prizes awarded to scientists associated with DOE, and the need to “continue to pursue this standard of international excellence.”
Ranking Member Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) emphasized the importance of collaboration between the national laboratories and industry and the valuable resource the national user facilities provide to the nation. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) emphasized initiatives within the Office of High Energy Physics, the priority of exascale computing within DOE, and inquired about continued U.S. commitment to the international fusion project in view of escalating costs. Rep. Lipinski expressed his support for the exascale computing initiative as a cosponsor of the Hultgren language in the bill. He also emphasized the priority of technology transfer and giving the laboratories and universities more flexibility in pursuing these activities.
Concerns were expressed by Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) about language in the draft legislation that would place priority on “biological systems and genomic science” through the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) over environmental and climate science. He emphasized the importance of DOE efforts in STEM education and support for young scientists to train the energy workforce. He also expressed concern about the Administration’s proposal to consolidate STEM programs, including the Computational Science Graduate Fellowships.
The Subcommittee on Research and Technology will host a hearing next week, entitled, “Keeping America FIRST: Federal Investments in Research, Science, and Technology at NSF, NIST, OSTP and Interagency STEM Programs.” This hearing will be in preparation for the formal introduction of the Subcommittee’s FIRST Act.
Lewis-Burke will continue to monitor the hearings and legislation and report back on developments.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Monday, August 05, 2013
Congress prepares to recess for five weeks until September 6, it leaves major agricultural
legislation as unfinished business.
Congressional action will be needed to extend current law in the limited
time remaining before the beginning of fiscal year (FY) 2014 on October 1. However, in a show of bipartisanship, members
in the House and Senate have joined in introducing legislation to promote agricultural
research by creating a new charitable, tax-exempt status for agricultural
research organizations that can help leverage private funding for research in
partnership with universities.
the Senate and House of Representatives have passed their respective versions
of the 2013 Farm Bill and now there is pressure to convene a conference
committee to negotiate a final bill. However,
the House Republican leadership is holding up the process as it tries to determine
how to move a separate nutrition bill, as the nutrition component was stripped
from the House’s version of the Federal
Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (H.R. 2642) before
narrowly passing the House floor on a 216 to 208 vote. This has delayed any move toward convening a
conference committee. The original House
Farm Bill proposed reducing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
(SNAP; "food stamps”) by $20.5 billion over ten years. However, by striking the nutrition section,
the House has deleted those proposed "savings.”
The companion Senate bill, the Agriculture
Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (S. 954), includes the nutrition piece
and would save $4 billion out of the SNAP program if enacted. Both House and Senate Agriculture Committees
will have to entertain another extension of existing authorities beyond
September 30 while they continue to try to bridge their differences and convene
Agriculture Appropriations Bill
hope of moving the FY 2014 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration,
and Related Agencies Appropriations bill was derailed by the initial failure of
the House to pass a comprehensive Farm Bill.
In the absence of a Farm Bill, calling up the Agriculture Appropriations
Bill (H.R. 2410) for debate on the House floor would have invited amendments more
suited to the Farm Bill. As such, House Republican
leadership delayed action on the appropriations bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee has also
reported its version of the bill (S. 1244), but the Senate is just now considering
its first appropriations bill on the Senate floor. With very few legislative days in September,
Congress will have to turn to a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the entire
federal government for some period of time beginning October 1. The discussions surrounding the CR also are
expected to begin conversations with the White House on: (1) the need to again
increase the debt limit; (2) the prospect of another round of across-the-board
cuts through sequestration in January pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 2011; and (3) further deficit reduction talks
with the President.
1, the Senate approved the President’s nominees of Krysta Harden and Robert
Bonnie to be the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and the Under Secretary for
Natural Resources and Environment, respectively. Ms. Harden has been the Chief of Staff to
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack since 2011. She also served as the Assistant Secretary
for Congressional Relations at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from
2009 to 2011. Ms. Harden served as CEO
of the National Association of Conservation Districts; was a Senior Vice
President of Gordley Associates, a government relations corporation focused on
agriculture from 1993 to 2004; and has experience as staff in the House of
Representatives. Ms. Harden is a native
of Georgia and comes from a family of farmers.
She will replace Kathleen Merrigan who left USDA earlier this year.
Bonnie has been nominated as Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment. Mr. Bonnie has served as a senior policy
adviser for environment and climate to Secretary Vilsack since 2009. Prior to coming to USDA, he held a number of
positions with the Environmental Defense Fund from 1995 to 2008. A Kentucky native, with degrees in resource economics
and forestry, he is an expert on the use of markets to promote stewardship on
farms, ranches, and forest lands.
Bipartisan Agriculture Research Bill
spite of partisan differences on the Farm Bill and on overall funding levels
for the annual appropriations bills, a bipartisan group has introduced
legislation designed to spur innovation and strengthen the agricultural
enterprise through research partnerships.
Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator John
Thune (R-SD) have introduced legislation in the Senate to amend the U.S. Tax
Code to create a charitable, tax-exempt mechanism to support agricultural research. The bill, S. 1280, the Charitable Research Act of 2013, is cosponsored by Senators Roy
Blunt (R-MO), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chris Coons (D-DE), James Inhofe (R-OK), Amy
Klobuchar (D-MN), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, which plans
to consider a tax reform bill this fall.
companion bill, H.R. 2671, has been introduced in the House by Rep. Devin Nunes
(R-CA) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI). The
bill has 15 cosponsors, including the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House
Agriculture Committee, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Rep. Collin Peterson
(D-MN). The bill has been referred to
the House Ways and Means Committee, which also intends to consider tax reform
legislation this fall.
legislation would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow an agricultural
research organization that directly engages in research in partnership with a
land-grant college or university or a non-land grant college of agriculture to
receive a charitable tax deduction for research expenditures. The legislation is designed to generate new
funding for agriculture research to help strengthen American agriculture and
spur innovation in the agricultural sector of the U.S. economy. In introducing the legislation, the sponsors
highlighted the need for innovative approaches to increase research funding
during a constrained budget environment and to leverage private sector funding
to support the research necessary to increase food production through new
methods and technologies.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Monday, July 29, 2013
The National Research Council (NRC) has appointed a
committee to perform an independent assessment of the USDA Agriculture and Food
Research Initiative (AFRI). (Please visit http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/projectview.aspx?key=49505
for a complete description of the study and committee membership.) As part of
its information gathering, the committee is conducting a web-based solicitation
to seek input broadly from researchers, academic and extension leaders,
reviewers, and users and beneficiaries of AFRI.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Policy Update: U.S. House of
Representatives Passes Revised 2013 Farm Bill
Lewis-Burke Associates LLC – July 17, 2013
On July 11, a divided U.S. House of Representatives narrowly
passed H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of
2013, on a second try to move a Farm Bill through the legislative process. The House Republican leadership had to depend
solely on its caucus to pass the bill, which it did on a vote of 216 to 208
after experiencing a humiliating defeat on the House floor when a bipartisan
version of the Farm bill (H.R. 1947) failed to pass (195 to 234) on June
20. The bill only passed after the House
Agriculture Committee Chairman, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), stripped the nutrition
title (Title IV) from the bill, leaving a significant difference in the House
and Senate bills that must be reconciled in conference to negotiate a final
bill. On June 10, the Senate passed its
version of the Farm Bill (S. 954) with a strong bipartisan vote of 66 to 27
(for a description of the Senate bill, which remained largely the same as
reported by the Senate Agriculture Committee, please see the Lewis-Burke report
from June 4).
The Obama Administration strongly opposes the House-passed
bill. The President’s senior advisors
have recommended that the President veto the bill. The Administration states that the House bill
has insufficient reforms to the commodity and crop insurance programs. It also takes issue with the lack of funding
for USDA’s renewable energy programs, which would be made subject to annual
funding by Congress. The White House
also objects to the decision to strip the nutrition title from the bill, and leave
reauthorization of these programs to separate legislation.
Striking the nutrition title from the House bill eliminated previously
proposed savings of $20.5 billion over ten years from the Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps). The Senate-passed bill would save $4 billion
in nutrition programs over ten years.
The remainder of the House bill is largely as originally
reported with some amendments adopted during floor consideration of H.R. 1947
incorporated into the new bill. The
House-passed bill would save a net total of $12.8 billion over ten years below
current law compared to $33.3 billion in savings in the original House bill. Including small revenue changes, the
House-passed bill would reduce the federal deficit by $12.9 billion over ten
As does the Senate-passed version of the Farm Bill, the
House bill would achieve most of the deficit reduction by eliminating direct
and countercyclical payments for major commodity programs, such as wheat, corn,
soybeans, etc. The House bill replaces
these programs with a Farm Risk Management Election program focused on either
price loss coverage or revenue loss coverage.
These provisions save an estimated $18.7 billion in outlays over ten
years. The House bill also repeals the
1949 permanent law governing commodity programs. The House bill would revamp crop insurance
programs with an estimated net cost of $10.1 billion over ten years.
The House Agriculture Committee focused on eliminating
duplication in federal programs by consolidating 23 existing conservation
programs into 13 programs and adopting various program reforms. The House-passed bill would save an estimated
$4.8 billion over ten years from these reforms.
The House version of the Farm Bill continues strong support
for research programs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The House bill would largely extend existing authorizations
for research programs through the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). As does the Senate bill, the House bill
extends the authorization for NIFA’s extramural competitive grants through the Agriculture
and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at the current $700 million annual
level. The House Committee cited budget
constraints as the reason to reduce authorization levels for various programs (not
actual spending) by an estimated $500 million.
The House bill also replaces open-ended ("such sums as may be necessary”)
authorizations with specific authorization levels. The House Committee removes USDA’s authority
to fund non-competitive grants.
As does the Senate-passed bill, the House bill would
continue current formula grants programs to support land-grant institutions. Formula programs authorized under the Hatch Act and the Smith-Lever Act are extended through FY 2018. Both bills also extend the authorizations for
the Extension Service and for Hispanic-Serving Institutions through FY 2018.
Neither the Senate nor House bills address the indirect cost
rate as the 2008 Farm Bill did. Thus,
under the proposed bills, the indirect cost rate remains at the current level
of 30 percent established in the Agriculture title of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013. The 2008 Farm Bill increased the indirect
cost rate from 19 percent to 22 percent.
A provision getting some scrutiny in the research title of
the House bill is a requirement (Section 6128) for USDA to institute a 1:1
match for new research grants.
Land-grant institutions, USDA research entities, and institutions
partnering with either would be exempt from this requirement, leaving other
public and private research institutes likely subjected to the requirement to
match federal funding from USDA on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
The Administration takes issue with Senate and House
provisions (Sections 7512 and 6513, respectively) barring USDA from obligating
appropriated funding for extramural competitive research grants unless USDA submits
a comprehensive spending plan to Congress for its approval.
Both the House and Senate bills reinstate the authorization
of mandatory funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the Organic
Research and Extension Initiative, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher
Program. These programs expired with
other Farm Bill authorities last year when Congress failed to extend existing
CBO estimates mandatory spending for research, extension,
and related matters in the House bill at $760 million over ten years. The House bill would provide $555 million
over ten years for Specialty Crop Research; $100 million over five years for
Organic Agriculture Research and Extension; and $100 million over five years for
the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development grants, also broadening
eligibility to military veterans, and providing a set-aside of not more than
five percent for this purpose. The
Senate-passed bill would provide $581 million over ten years for these
Both bills also create a Veterinary Services Investment
program to help address the shortage of veterinarians. The bills authorize $10 million for each
fiscal year beginning in FY 2014 for activities to recruit, train, support, and
The House Committee does not include an authorization for a
new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). The Senate-passed bill would authorize FFAR
and would provide $200 million in mandatory funding over five years to
capitalize the Foundation for research projects, which must be matched on a
dollar-for-dollar basis from non-federal funding. FFAR would promote a public-private
partnership to leverage additional funding for agriculture research.
The House-passed Farm Bill reauthorizes existing energy
programs affecting rural areas for five years through FY 2018, including the
Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) at $20 million
annually. The House bill would also make
these programs subject to annual appropriations by Congress, whereas the Senate
bill provides mandatory funding totaling $880 million over ten years, which
would require no further action by the Congress.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
On July 10, the U.S. House of
Representatives approved by a 227 to 198 vote a $30.4 billion Energy and Water
Development Appropriations bill to fund the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of
Reclamation, Department of Energy (DOE), and other independent agencies for
fiscal year (FY) 2014. The House bill
overall is $2.9 billion below the FY 2013 enacted level and approximately $700
million below the enacted level after sequestration. Please note that comparisons to the FY 2013
enacted level do not reflect the across-the-board reductions required under sequestration. The House bill is $4.1 billion below the
President’s budget request. This is the
first domestic spending bill that reflects the significant spending reductions
that would be needed under the House-passed budget resolution and in the
absence of an overall long-term deficit reduction plan that would replace
House Subcommittee Chairman
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) highlighted the "hard choices” the Subcommittee had
to make to meet its spending allocation.
The priorities for the bill include DOE’s national security programs,
including nuclear weapons; national and regional infrastructure programs
through the Army Corps of Engineers; nuclear clean-up; and programs to promote
economic competitiveness. The funding
recommendations in the bill reflect the decision of the House Republican
majority to write the FY 2014 bills to an overall discretionary total of $967
billion, the post-sequester spending cap level enacted in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The House allocation is $91 billion overall
below the $1.058 trillion requested by the President and embraced by Senate
Democrats that assumes the sequester is overturned and a comprehensive budget
agreement is reached this fall.
During House debate on the bill,
the Republican majority held back numerous amendments to restore funding to the
DOE Office of Science, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
(EERE), and to the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Both Representatives Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
and Bill Foster (D-IL) offered amendments to add back $223 million and $500
million, respectively, to DOE’s Office of Science, reducing the nuclear weapons
R&D program within the bill to offset the proposed increases. Both amendments were defeated. An amendment to prohibit funding for wind
energy programs within EERE was also defeated.
After two amendments by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and by John
Garamendi (D-CA) to restore funding to ARPA-E were defeated, the House adopted
an amendment by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to add $20 million to ARPA-E, bringing
the program total to $70 million.
The House bill would reduce DOE’s
energy programs by $1.4 billion below the FY 2013 enacted level before
sequestration. For the DOE Office of
Science, the House bill would provide $4.653 billion, which is a reduction of about
$223 million (4.6 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level. The House bill is nearly $500 million (9.7
percent) below the President’s request for the Office of Science. The Committee indicates that it has given
priority to research, such as the basic research done by the Office of Science,
which only the federal government is likely to do. Within the Office of Basic Energy Sciences,
the House bill fully funds the President’s budget request of $24.2 million for
each of two Energy Innovation Hubs relating to Fuels from Sunlight and
Batteries. The House bill includes $60
million to support the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), a reduction of
$40 million below the President’s request.
The Committee does not approve the request of an additional $68.7
million to fully fund additional centers.
The Committee also approves the budget request for exascale computing
totaling $68.58 million. Chairman
Frelinghuysen indicated that, as it did last year, the Subcommittee restores
cuts to the Fusion Energy program proposed by the President.
The House Committee makes the
deepest funding cuts in programs deemed a priority by the Administration. For the Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy
(ARPA-E), the House-passed bill would provide $70 million, which is a reduction
of $195 million (73.6 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level. The House bill
is $309.0 million (81.5 percent) below the President’s request for ARPA-E.
The House bill would consolidate
the DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and DOE’s Office
of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and fund the programs overall
at $958.1 million, a reduction of $995.5 million (60 percent) below the FY 2013
enacted level, and $1.99 billion (67.5 percent) below the President’s budget
request. The President’s budget request
proposed to increase these clean energy technology programs by over 50 percent
to nearly $3 billion. Several
amendments to restore funds to the EERE program overall failed.
For the electricity programs, the
House bill recommends $80 million, a reduction of $32.5 million below the FY
2013 enacted level and $61.4 million below the President’s budget request. The House Committee recommends no funding for
the proposed Electricity Systems Energy Innovation Hub for which the President
requested $20 million.
Within the newly consolidated
Renewable Energy, Energy Reliability and Efficiency program, the House
Committee emphasizes research to address high gas prices through the Bioenergy
Technologies, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies, and Vehicle Technologies
programs, providing a total of $390 million for these activities. The House Committee also states that advanced
manufacturing is a priority, providing $120 million for this program with
continued support for the Critical Materials Energy Innovation Hub.
The House bill would provide
funding for ongoing Nuclear Energy activities at $656.4 million, a reduction of
$96.6 million (12.8 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level and $79.1 million
(10.8 percent) below the President’s budget request. The bill would provide $430 million for the
Fossil Energy R&D programs, which is an increase of $9.42 million (2.2
percent) above the President’s budget request, but $104 million (19.5 percent)
below the FY 2013 enacted level.
The recommendations for the DOE nuclear
security programs administered through the National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA) total $11.3 billion, which is a decrease of $213.1 million
(1.9 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level, and $364.0 million (3.1 percent)
below the President’s budget request. These programs include Weapons Activities,
Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors. As it did last year, the House Subcommittee
approves $25 million to retain the viability of the Yucca Mountain nuclear
For the water infrastructure
agencies, the House bill would provide $4.9 billion for the Army Corps of
Engineers, a reduction of $104 million (2.0 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level
excluding emergency appropriations associated with Hurricane Sandy, and $72
million (1.5 percent) above the President’s budget request. The House would provide $981 million for the
Bureau of Reclamation, which is $66.7 million (6.4 percent) below the FY 2013
enacted level and $68.5 million (6.5 percent) below the President’s
Energy-Water Development Appropriations Bill, FY 2014
As passed by the
House Appropriations Committee, 7/10/2013
FY 2014 Request
FY 2014 House Cmte Mark
House Cmte vs.
FY 2013 Enacted
House Cmte vs.
FY 2014 Request
Scientific Computing Research
Development for Teachers and Scientists
Energy, Energy Reliability and Efficiency†
Energy Research and Development
Army Corps of Engineers, total
Bureau of Reclamation, total
* FY 2013 values are based on
the FY 2013 enacted values as given in the House report. They do not reflect sequestration.
† The House bill proposes combining EERE and Electricity Delivery and
Energy Reliability into this new account.
‡ Includes funds from the
Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Appropriations bill.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Monday, July 15, 2013
Appropriations Update: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Labor, Health
and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Bill
LLC – July 15, 2013
On July 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved by
a vote of 16-14 the fiscal year (FY) 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which would provide
funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department
of Education (ED), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), among other
agencies. No Republicans on the
Committee voted in favor of the bill due to opposition to programs that support
the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
(ACA). The bill totals $164.3 billion,
which is an increase of about $7.8 billion above the FY 2013 enacted
level. Please note that the FY 2013
enacted level does not include the effects of the sequester.
The funding recommendations in the bill reflect the decision
of the Senate Democratic majority to write the FY 2014 appropriations bills to
an overall discretionary total of $1.058 trillion. This is the level proposed by the President
in his budget request, which assumes the sequester is overturned and the White
House and Congress reach a long-term deficit reduction agreement. However, the House funding allocation for the
Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill assumes the sequester will stay in
place, creating a $43 billion gap between the overall funding levels for the
Senate and House versions of the bill. At this time, it is unclear when the
House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee will consider its version
of the bill.
of Health (NIH)
For NIH, the bill includes $30.955 billion, a $307 million (1 percent) increase above the FY
2013 pre-sequestration level and $376 million below the President’s FY 2014
request. Senate Labor-HHS-Education
Appropriations Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-KS) offered an amendment to
increase the NIH budget by $1.4 billion, which would have been offset by
cutting funds for the implementation of ACA, but it was rejected by a
The bill includes $40 million for the BRAIN Initiative and
commends NIH for engaging in the multi-agency effort with the National Science
Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as well as
private sector partners. The Committee
notes that funding for the initiative would be pooled from several NIH institutes
and centers (ICs) and the Office of the Director. The report also states that in supporting
this initial investment, the Committee awaits more detailed budget projections
for future years.
The bill also includes an increase of $80 million for the
National Institute on Aging (NIA) to lead Alzheimer’s disease research. Language in the report accompanying the bill
states that while the Committee does not recommend a specific amount for
Alzheimer’s research, it expects a significant portion of the recommended
increase for NIA to be directed to this area.
Additionally, the bill recommends $276 million for the
Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program, rejecting the $50 million cut
to the program proposed in the President’s FY 2014 budget request. The report
language urges NIH to reexamine the eligibility criteria for IDeA as some
IDeA-eligible states have higher success rates than those of non-IDeA
states. The Committee directs NIH to
provide a report to Congress within 120 days of the release of a forthcoming
National Academies report on IDeA and other Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) programs.
Within the National Center for Advancing Translational
Sciences (NCATS), the bill would provide $50 million for the Cures Acceleration
Network (CAN), which received $10 million in FY 2013, not accounting for
sequestration cuts. The Committee does
not recommend a specific amount for the Clinical and Translational Science
Awards (CTSA) and endorses the recent Institute of Medicine report, noting that
NCATS should help the CTSAs function more as a network to realize the program’s
In report language, the Committee expresses concern that the
Administration’s proposed consolidation of government-wide STEM education
activities would affect the quality of the Science Education and Partnership
Awards (SEPA) program within the NIH Office of the Director and other smaller
STEM programs throughout NIH. The
Committee directs NIH to continue funding these programs in FY 2014 and to halt
the transfer of the programs to the Department of Education. NIH has already begun to implement the
consolidation by communicating to NIH STEM education grantees that their
programs would be cancelled.
The Committee would continue current policy by maintaining
the Executive Level II Salary Cap, which was recommended in the President’s FY
2014 budget request. Also, the Committee
rejects the Administration’s proposed increase for HHS program evaluation from
2.5 to 3 percent. This would have
resulted in the transfer of approximately $147 million from NIH’s budget to
fund HHS evaluation activities.
Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill
National Institutes of Health
by the Senate Appropriations Committee, 7/11/2013
FY 2013 Enacted*
FY 2014 Request
FY 2014 Senate Cmte Mark
Senate vs. FY 2013
Senate vs. FY 2014
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
National Institute of Dental and
Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
National Institute of Neurological
Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Institute of General Medical
Development Award (IDeA)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences (NIEHS)
on Aging (NIA)
National Institute of Arthritis and
Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute of Mental Health
on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse
and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
of Nursing Research (NINR)
National Human Genome Research
of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
National Institute on Minority Health
and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
National Center for Advancing
Translational Sciences (NCATS)
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Thursday, July 11, 2013
On June 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related
Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2014. This is the first domestic appropriations
bill to be taken up by the Committee. The
Senate bill totals $20.93 billion in discretionary spending, an increase of
$420 million above the FY 2013 enacted level. Please note that the FY 2013 enacted level
does not include the effects of the sequester. The overall bill, including mandatory
spending, totals $143.1 billion.
Mandatory spending, largely for nutrition programs, accounts for 86
percent of the overall bill.
The funding recommendations in
the bill reflect the decision of the Senate Democratic majority to write the FY
2014 appropriations bills to an overall discretionary total of $1.058
trillion. This is the level proposed by
the President in his budget request, which assumes the sequester is overturned
and the White House and Congress reach a long-term deficit reduction agreement.
The House Appropriations Committee is writing the FY 2014 bills to an overall
discretionary total of $967 billion, the post-sequester cap level, and $91
billion below the President’s request and the Senate level. The House Appropriations Committee also
follows the outline of the House-passed budget resolution and increases
spending for defense and security-related programs above the cap allotted in
the Budget Control Act of 2011 (debt-limit
agreement), resulting in significant spending reductions for most non-defense
bills. The House version of the
Agriculture Appropriations bill, however, was largely held to a freeze level.
For the U.S. Department of
Agriculture’s (USDA) major research agencies, the Senate bill recommends a
total of $2.4 billion. For the
Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the Senate bill would provide $1.123
billion for FY 2014, an increase of $51.1 million (4.8 percent) above the FY
2013 enacted level before the sequester, and $155.9 million (12.1 percent) below
the President’s budget request largely because no funding is recommended for
ARS Buildings and Facilities for which the President requests $155 million.
For the National Institute of
Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Senate bill would provide $1.278 billion, an
increase of $75.0 million (6.2 percent) above the FY 2013 enacted level before
the sequester, and $10.8 million (<1 percent) below the President’s budget
request. Within NIFA, the Committee would
support competitive research through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
(AFRI) by recommending $316.4 million, an increase of $25.9 million (8.9
percent) above the FY 2013 enacted level before sequestration, and $67.0
million (17.5 percent) below the President’s budget request.
Additionally, within NIFA, the
Senate Committee also supports key formula funding for the nation’s land-grant
institutions, providing a proposed $243.7 million for formula assistance under
the Hatch Act and $300.0 million for cooperative extension activities under the
Smith-Lever Act 3(b) and 3(c) programs.
These recommendations for the formula grants are increases above the FY
2013 enacted levels before sequestration. Funding for the Hatch Act is $13.3 million
(5.7 percent) above the FY 2013 enacted level before sequestration. Funding proposed for the Smith Lever Act 3(b)
and 3(c) programs is $31.4 million (11.7 percent) above the FY 2013 enacted
level before sequestration and $6.0 million (2 percent) above the President’s
For the USDA Food Safety and
Inspection Service (FSIS), the bill would provide $1.02 billion, which is $7.35
million (<1 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level before sequestration and
$12.0 million (1.2 percent) above the President’s budget request.
This bill would also provide new
appropriations of $2.56 billion for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
which is $101.6 million above the FY 2013 enacted level before sequestration
and $5.2 million above the President’s budget request. The Committee proposes $4.39 billion in total
funding, including user-fees, for the agency.
Of note, the Senate Committee
rejects the President’s proposal to move the "Food for Peace” program from USDA
to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and states its strong
support for continued operation of the program.
The bill includes $1.47 billion for these grants, which is $32.9 million
above the FY 2013 enacted level before sequestration.
Additional funding details can be
found in the chart below.
Agriculture Appropriations Bill, FY 2014
by the Senate Appropriations Committee on 6/20/2013
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Earlier today, the House
Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS)
Subcommittee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations bill, which
funds many research agencies, but of importance to ASPB, it funds the National
Science Foundation (NSF). There is
generally bipartisan support for many of these programs across these agencies, however, while both sides agree strategic cuts are
necessary, some differences exist about which programs should bear these
The bill totals $47.4 billion,
which is about $2.8 billion below the FY 2013 enacted level and $350 million
below the post-sequestration level. Subcommittee Ranking Member Chaka
Fattah (D-PA) noted that this level reflects the fact that the House is working
on a much lower overall budget allocation than the Senate; the House spending
allocations assume sequestration remains in place.
The bill would provide NSF with$6.995 billion, which is $111 million above the FY 2013 final level
(including sequester and rescissions) and $631 million below the President’s FY
2014 request. The Research and Related Activities account would be funded
at $5.676 billion, an increase of $132 million over the final FY 2013 level,
but $536 million below the FY 2014 request. Both the Education and Human
Resources (EHR) and Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction
(MREFC) accounts would see decreases below the final FY 2013 level and the
President’s budget request. EHR would be funded at $825 million, $8
million below the FY 2013 level and $55 million below the President’s
request. MREFC would receive $183 million, $14 million below the FY 2013
level and $28 million below the President’s FY 2014 request.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
On June 27, the full Senate Appropriations
Committee approved a $34.8 billion fiscal year (FY) 2014 Energy and Water
Development Appropriations bill. The bill
would provide funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation,
Department of Energy (DOE), and other independent agencies for the fiscal year
beginning October 1, 2013. The Senate
bill is $1.96 billion below the FY 2013 enacted funding level before
sequestration. Please note that the FY
2013 enacted level does not include rescissions or the sequester. The Senate bill is $4.4 billion more than the
House version of the bill, providing the Senate an opportunity to fund Obama Administration
priorities for fundamental research through DOE’s Office of Science and clean
energy research that were significantly reduced in the House version of the
The funding recommendations in
the bill reflect the decision of the Senate Democratic majority to write the FY
2014 bills to an overall discretionary total of $1.058 trillion requested by
the President and passed in the Senate version of the FY 2014 budget resolution. This allocation assumes the sequester enacted
in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (debt
limit agreement) will be overturned and a comprehensive budget agreement will
be reached between the Congress and the President this fall. The House Republican majority has agreed to
an overall discretionary spending allocation of $967 billion for the annual
appropriations bills, which is the same as the post-sequester spending cap
level and $91 billion below the Senate and Administration level.
For DOE, the Senate bill would
provide $28.2 billion, an increase of $1.2 billion (4.3 percent) above the FY
2013 enacted level and $744 million (2.6 percent) below the President’s
request. The Senate recommendation for DOE
overall is nearly $3.3 billion above the House bill, which recommends $25.0
billion for the Department.
In the Senate bill, Subcommittee
Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) prioritizes water infrastructure, basic
research and the development of new energy technologies, and the national
security programs associated with nuclear nonproliferation and modernization of
the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.
The Subcommittee emphasizes the need
for better management of DOE and includes several recommendations to make its
point. The Senate bill includes language
to establish an independent commission to evaluate the 17 DOE national
laboratories regarding their configuration to meet the energy and national
security challenges facing the nation.
The bill also includes language to begin addressing the need for
long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level nuclear waste.
The Senate Committee actually
refuses to fund programs that haven’t met milestones, have management problems,
or lack a defined program plan. The
Senate bill eliminates funding for the DOE Energy Efficient Building Systems
Hub because of poor performance and management.
The Senate Subcommittee defers the obligation of funding for the
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) being built in France
until DOE provides details of the plan for U.S. contributions to this fusion
For the DOE Office of Science, the
Senate bill would provide $5.153 billion, which is the same as the President’s
budget request and an increase of $276.8 million (5.7 percent) above the FY
2013 enacted level and nearly $500 million (9.7 percent) above the House
As does the House bill, the
Senate bill would continue funding for the two Energy Innovation Hubs within
the Office of Science at the level requested by the President. The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis
and the Batteries and Energy Storage Hub would each be funded at the requested
level of $24.237 million for FY 2014.
The Senate bill would continue
the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) program at the current level of
$100 million to support approximately 30 centers. The Senate does not approve the additional
$69.7 million requested to fully fund additional EFRCs. The Senate’s recommendation is the same as
the President’s budget request for the core EFRC program, which is $40 million
above the House bill.
The Senate Committee also
provides a total of $150 million for an exascale computing initiative that will
be jointly implemented by the DOE Office of Science ($81 million) and the
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA; $69 million). Within the Advanced Scientific Computing
Research (ASCR) program, the Senate would provide $6 million for Computational
Science Graduate Fellowships.
The Senate Committee provides
strong support for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and
the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs. The Senate bill would approve $379 million
for ARPA-E as requested by the President, which is $114 million (43 percent)
above the FY 2013 enacted level. The
House would provide only $50 million for ARPA-E.
The Senate bill would fund EERE
programs at $2.28 billion, an increase of $466.9 million (25.7percent) above
the FY 2013 enacted level and $494.7 million (17.8 percent) below the
President’s request. The recommendations
for specific programs within EERE are displayed in the chart below. The Committee continues support for the
Critical Materials Hub, providing $25 million for its program. The Senate bill would also approve the $5
million requested for a joint additive manufacturing pilot program with the
Department of Defense. The Committee states
its support for the collaboration between the Navy, Department of Agriculture,
and DOE to develop new biofuels for military uses and approves the $45 million
requested for DOE to collaborate with these agencies. The Committee also supports electricity grid
integration activities by the various EERE technology offices.
Within the $149 million provided
to DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the Senate bill
rejects the President’s request to provide $20 million for a sixth Energy
Innovation Hub in Electricity Systems.
The House bill also rejected funding for the proposed Electricity
For Nuclear Energy activities, the
Senate Committee would approve the President’s request of $735.5 million, which
is $17.5 million (2.3 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level. The bill approves the request of $24.3
million for the Nuclear Modeling and Simulation Hub. The Senate Committee would provide $420.6
million for the Fossil Energy R&D programs, which is the same as the
President’s request and a reduction of $113.4 million (21.2 percent) below the
FY 2013 enacted level.
This appropriations measure also
funds the nation’s nuclear security programs administered through NNSA. The Senate bill recommends $11.76 billion, an
increase of $256.8 million (2.2 percent) above the FY 2013 enacted level, for
core Weapons Activities, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors. The Senate Committee criticizes DOE’s life
extension programs for existing warheads for delays and cost escalation. It acknowledges the importance of securing
nuclear and radiological materials in foreign countries to combat nuclear
terrorism, recommending $2.18 billion for the Nuclear Non-proliferation
activities of NNSA. This funding level
would reflect a reduction of $254.2 million (20.4 percent) below the FY 2013
The Senate Committee highlights
the importance of infrastructure to the economic and transportation vitality of
the nation in its support of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of
Reclamation. The Senate bill would
provide $5.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, an increase of $474
million (9.8 percent) above the President’s request. The Senate recommends $1.1 billion for the
Bureau of Reclamation, an increase of $50.4 million (4.8 percent) above the
President’s budget request, and $52.3 million (5 percent) above the FY 2013
Energy-Water Development Appropriations Bill,
by the Senate Appropriations Committee, 6/27/13