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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 Policy Archives available under Group Pages.


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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves NIH Funding Bill for FY 2013

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Monday, July 15, 2013


FY 2014 Appropriations Update: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Bill

Lewis-Burke Associates 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.

National Institutes 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 party-line vote.

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 full potential.

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.

Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill

FY 2014

National Institutes of Health

As reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee, 7/11/2013

(In thousands)


FY 2013 Enacted*

FY 2014 Request

FY 2014 Senate Cmte Mark

Senate vs. FY 2013 Enacted

Senate vs. FY 2014 Request

NIH, total




307,127 (1.0%)

-147,000 (0.5%)

National Cancer Institute (NCI)




29,846 (0.6%)

-34,066 (0.7%)

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)




5,053 (0.2%)

-20,592 (0.7%)

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)




58 (<0.1%)

-1,568 (0.4%)

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)




6,295 (0.4%)

-12,041 (0.7%)

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)




8,590 (0.5%)

-10,916 (0.7%)

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)




66,653 (1.5%)

-30,430 (0.7%)

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)




10,395 (0.4%)

34,559 (1.4%)

Institutional Development Award (IDeA)




551 (0.2%)

50,519 (22.4%)

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)




11,704 (0.9%)

-8,901 (0.7%)

National Eye Institute (NEI)




100 (<0.1%)

2,191 (0.3%)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)




2,553 (0.4%)

-4,595 (0.7%)

National Institute on Aging (NIA)




84,205 (7.6%)

-7,931 (0.7%)

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)




2,683 (0.5%)

-3,595 (0.7%)

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)




4,685 (1.1%)

-2,811 (0.7%)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)




-21,263 (1.4%)

-9,741 (0.7%)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)




13,229 (1.3%)

-7,122 (0.7%)

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)




2,165 (0.5%)

-3,083 (0.7%)

National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)




793 (0.5%)

-972 (0.7%)

National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)




2,034 (0.4%)

-3,438 (0.7%)

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)




47 (<0.1%)

-1,164 (0.3%)

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)




5,529 (2.0%)

-1,883 (0.7%)

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)




383 (0.3%)

-858 (0.7%)

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)




87,048 (15.2%)

-4,424 (0.7%)

Cures Acceleration Network (CAN)




40,039 (402%)


John E. Fogarty International Center (FIC)




2,897 (4.2%)

-484 (0.7%)

National Library of Medicine (NLM)




42,749 (12.7%)

-2,540 (0.7%)

Office of the Director (OD)




-61,519 (4.0%)

-9,792 (0.7%)

Common Fund




24 (4.4%)

-5 (0.9%)

Buildings and Facilities




215 (0.2%)

-803 (0.6%)

*Values do not reflect sequestration.

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  NIH 

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DOE Funding Bill Approved by House for FY 2014

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On June 26, the House Appropriations Committee approved 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 Committee 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 sequestration.

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. This level is $91 billion below the level of $1.058 trillion for discretionary spending requested by the President and embraced by Senate Democrats that assumes the sequester is overturned and a comprehensive budget agreement is reached.

The House Committee recommends a reduction of $1.4 billion below the FY 2013 enacted level before sequestration for DOE’s energy programs. 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 Committee 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 proposes to reduce funding to $50 million, which is a reduction of $215 million (81 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level. The House proposal is $329.0 million (86.8 percent) below the President’s request for ARPA-E. A Democratic amendment to restore the $215 million was defeated on a voice vote because the increased spending was not offset with reductions elsewhere in the bill, and the amendment if adopted, would exceed the Subcommittee’s budget allocation.

The House bill would transfer the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability to DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and fund the programs overall at $982.6 million, a reduction of $971 million (49.7 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level, and $1.96 billion (66.6 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. A Democratic amendment was offered to fund EERE at $2.8 billion during committee consideration of the bill. The amendment was defeated on a party line vote as the amendment if adopted, would exceed the Subcommittee’s budget allocation.

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 EERE, 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 $450 million for the Fossil Energy R&D programs, which is an increase of $29.4 million (7.0 percent) above the President’s budget request, but $84 million (15.7 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 $235.6 million (2.1 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level, and $386.5 million (3.3 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 waste repository.

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 $50 million (1.0 percent) above the President’s budget request. The House would provide $965 million for the Bureau of Reclamation, which is $91.7 million (8.8 percent) below the FY 2013 enacted level and $93.6 million (8.9 percent) below the President’s request.

House Energy-Water Development Appropriations Bill, FY 2014

As reported by the House Appropriations Committee, 6/26/13

(In thousands)

FY 2013


FY 2014 Request

FY 2014 House Cmte Mark

House Cmte vs.

FY 2013 Enacted

House Cmte vs.

FY 2014 Request

DOE, total
















Advanced Scientific Computing Research








Basic Energy Sciences








Biological and Environmental Research








Fusion Energy Sciences Program








High-energy Physics








Nuclear Physics








Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists







Science Laboratories Infrastructure








Renewable Energy, Energy Reliability and Efficiency








Nuclear Energy








Fossil Energy Research and Development
















DOE Defense Activities








Weapons Activities








Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation








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.

For additional information, please see the House Energy-Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee website at

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  DOE 

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FY 2013 Appropriations Update: Sequester and Revisiting the Continuing Resolution

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC , Wednesday, March 06, 2013

In the absence of agreement on a long-term deficit reduction plan, on March 1st, President Obama signed an order directing federal agencies to reduce spending subject to sequestration under the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that to achieve the necessary $85 billion in savings, sequestration would require a reduction of approximately 5.0 percent in non-defense discretionary spending and 7.8 percent in non-exempt defense discretionary spending. Additional reductions will be taken in certain mandatory programs specified in the law.

As federal agencies prepare to implement the sequester, the Congress is turning its attention to the Continuing Resolution (CR), which is currently funding the entire federal government through March 27. There is general agreement between Congress and the White House and between Democrats and Republicans that there should be no government shutdown. It also appears likely that there will be no attempt to try to overturn the sequester in the final appropriations bill.

So what is likely to happen?

  • Due to the significant uncertainty, many federal agencies restrained spending to hedge their bets in the uncertain budgetary situation. Many agencies have implemented the traditional CR formula using the lowest of the FY 2012 enacted level, the President’s FY 2013 budget request, the House appropriations level, or the Senate appropriations level. Agencies have also retained some percentage of funding under the CR in anticipation of a possible sequester.
  • Because of these actions, the impact of the sequester will vary by agency depending on the types of programs it funds. For federal research agencies, the first priority is likely to be funding existing grants and grantees.
  • Until Congress completes action on the FY 2013 appropriations bill, research agencies are likely to delay announcing new funding opportunities.
  • Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are working on the CR. The House Committee expects to fund defense-related bills and to continue the CR level for other federal agencies. The Senate Committee may offer an omnibus appropriations bill to complete action on all 12 bills as significant progress on such a bill was made late last year.
  • Once agencies have a full-year budget to implement their programs, there could be a flurry of funding solicitations released with relatively short times for submitting applications in order to obligate funding this fiscal year, which ends September 30.

In the meantime, each federal agency will be refining its plan to implement the sequester (please see below for a list of agency resources on the sequester). Congress and the White House will work to agree on final FY 2013 appropriations, which will be subject to the sequester. The next opportunity to restart negotiations between the White House and Congress on a long-term deficit reduction plan, which may or may not revisit the sequester, will be during consideration of the budget resolution for FY 2014 and discussions on raising the ceiling on the debt limit, which expires on May 19.


Sequestration Resources

White House

The President’s sequestration order (released March 1) can be viewed at:

White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
OMB released a memorandum on federal agency responsibilities for implementation of sequestration (released February 27):

OMB also sent a report to Congress which provides calculations on budgetary resources that are required to be reduced under sequestration (released March 1):

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH released the following operation plan in event of a sequestration (released February 21):

National Science Foundation (NSF)

NSF released this notice regarding the impact of sequestration on NSF awards (released February 27):

Department of Education

The Department of Education released additional information on sequestration’s impact on Title IV student financial assistance programs (released March 1):

Senate Appropriations Committee

On February 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on the impacts of sequestration. The website below will link you to a list of department and agency letters to the Committee with information about how sequestration is expected to impact each entity. Information for NSF, NIH, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Departments of Defense, Commerce, Education, Agriculture, and Energy (as well as numerous others) can be found here:

The Washington Post

The White House released information on the expected impact of sequestration for each state. The Washington Post published this information and arranged it by category (White House released information on February 24):


Tags:  appropriations  Congress  NIH  NSF  President Obama  Washington Post  White House 

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Drought Briefing on Capitol Hill Co-Sponsored by ASPB

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Friday, December 21, 2012

ASPB co-sponsored a briefing on Capitol Hill, titled "From the Root Up: Understanding the 2012 Drought,” with the American Meteorological Society. The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hosted the briefing, which discussed both the impacts to crops from this year’s drought as well as the meteorological and climate conditions that lead to the drought. Dave Wegner, Professional Staff for the House Committee on Transportation’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment provided opening remarks in order to frame the briefing and subsequent discussion. The briefing was well attended, with over 60 congressional staff and stakeholders present.

ASPB invited John Boyer (in photo, left), the E. I. du Pont Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics Emeritus at the University of Delaware to speak about how plants respond to drought and the advances in crop drought tolerance. Dr. Boyer noted that this year’s drought in the Midwestern U.S. was initially expected to cause losses in our food supply. However, this was averted thanks to plant biology research that has led to the incorporation of drought tolerant traits in modern crops. Dr. Boyer explained that further research is needed in plant biology in order to build upon these successes and improve drought tolerance in crops. In response to a question from the audience, Dr. Boyer noted that despite these advances, food prices still rose this year because other parts of the world are increasingly demanding animal protein and, subsequently, increasingly demanding grain to feed animals.

The American Meteorological Society invited John Nielsen-Gammon (in photo, middle), Regents Professor at Texas A&M University and Texas State Climatologist, as well as Roger Pulwarty (in photo, right), Director of the National Integrated Drought Information System at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon discussed how climatic conditions make certain parts of the world, including the Midwest, more susceptible to drought, and Dr. Pulwarty spoke about the ways in which various government agencies work with state and local stakeholders to plan decisions around drought information and forecasts.

ASPB will continue to educate Members of Congress and their staff on plant biology related issues through congressional briefings and meetings in order to advance plant biology research.

Tags:  briefing  Congress  drought 

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Senate Agriculture Committee Reports 2012 Farm Bill; Floor Action Expected in June

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On April 26, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry approved legislation that, if enacted into law, would result in a far-reaching reorganization of programs supporting the nation’s farmers and ranchers. The bill, S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, would dramatically restructure farm income support and crop insurance programs, as well as eliminate, consolidate, and streamline existing programs for conservation, rural development, trade, nutrition, energy, research and extension, forestry, and related programs for the five-year period through fiscal year (FY) 2017. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced he plans to take up the bill for debate by the full Senate in the near future.  Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Committee has concluded hearings on the Farm Bill and anticipates preparing its own bill later this summer.  

For the USDA research and extension programs, the Senate bill would largely extend current programs. The bill would extend the authorization for intramural research through the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) through FY 2017. The Senate bill would also reauthorize the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through FY 2017 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 (AFRI is currently funded at $264.5 million in FY 2012). The bill would also reauthorize funding for the Extension Service.  

The Senate version of the 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.” 

Additionally, the Senate bill does not address the indirect cost rate as the 2008 Farm Bill did. Thus, under the proposed Senate bill, the indirect cost rate remains at the current level of 30 percent established in the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The 2008 Farm Bill increased the indirect cost rate from 19 percent to 22 percent.  

The bill would establish a significant new research initiative in the creation of a non-profit Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), which would promote a public-private partnership to leverage additional funding for agriculture research. The Senate bill includes mandatory funding of $100 million toward this effort, which must be matched by non-federal funding through the Foundation.  

The Senate 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 2017 and would be authorized at $30 million annually. The most significant amendment adopted during the Committee consideration of the bill would provide $800 million in mandatory spending to continue existing energy programs. Of this amount, $26 million in mandatory funding is provided each year through FY 2017 for BRDI. 

For a full report on the 2012 Farm Bill from our government affairs consultants, Lewis-Burke Associates, please visit: /resource/group/6d461cb9-5b79-4571-a164-924fa40395a5/docs/120601_senate-reported_farm_.pdf


Tags:  Congress  Farm Bill  Senate  USDA 

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Support to Pass the Farm Bill this Year Comes from Both Sides of the House

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Tuesday, March 06, 2012

This week both sides of the House of Representatives spoke out in support of passing the 2012 farm bill this year on The Hill’s Congress Blog: Where lawmakers come to blog. Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri) and Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) both highlighted the importance of agriculture to our nation’s economy.

Rep. Hartzler stressed that, "Only about half of 1 percent of the [federal] budget supports food production -- a very small investment to keep our food supply safe, affordable and reliable.” Furthermore, funding of research for food and agriculture makes up an even smaller fraction of the one half of one percent. Rep. Hartzler called out the importance of agricultural research in feeding a growing global population. "Crop yields have increased tremendously over the past few years due to improved genetics and enhanced crop protection products…continued improvements are necessary to feed the world.”

Rep. Cuellar worries about other pieces of long-term legislation taking precedence over the farm bill and the effects of not passing the bill this year. "Without a new farm bill, USDA is unable to assist with new difficulties that have arisen since 2008 - such as the expanding citrus diseases – and cut areas that have out lived their usefulness.”

In February, ASPB joined 86 other organizations by signing a letter to House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership in support of completing the farm bill in 2012. We will continue to monitor the Farm Bill debate and provide updates on its progress.

Tags:  Congress  Farm Bill  House  USDA 

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ASPB ALERT: Concerns Regarding the Grant Reform and New Transparency (GRANT) Act (H.R. 3433)

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Monday, January 09, 2012

As you may be aware, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently approved the Grant Reform and New Transparency (GRANT) Act, H.R. 3433. The bill, which the full House has not considered, is intended to provide more transparency in the federal grant-making process by requiring all federal agencies to publicize the selection procedures for each grant program. It also mandates the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) create a single, comprehensive website for all federal grant opportunities, among other provisions.

Many in the research community have concerns with the bill’s transparency requirements in the peer-review process, which include the posting of full copies of funded proposals online (albeit with an exception for information that is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)). Although many efforts have been made to effect positive changes in the bill, the amount of disclosure required is still potentially damaging to the peer-review process. As such, Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ) and David Price (D-NC) have drafted a "Dear Colleague” letter to the House leadership urging them to fix these remaining issues; Reps. Holt and Price also are seeking additional signatories to the letter from among their colleagues.

ASPB is closely monitoring this bill and working to remove damaging provisions in the legislation. If you have concerns with the GRANT Act, you can share them with your Representative and/or encourage them to sign on to the Holt-Price Dear Colleague letter. Contact information for your Representative is available at You can either call their Washington, D.C., office or send an e-mail via your Representative’s website. If you do not know who your Representative is, you can enter your zip code into the above website to find out. The deadline for additional signatories to the Dear Colleague letter is Friday, January 13.

If you’d like help reaching out to your Representative, please contact ASPB’s Public Affairs Manager, Kathy Munkvold, at

Tags:  Alert  Congress  grants  House 

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Policy Update: FY 2012 Appropriations Update: Congress Completes FY 2012 Appropriations Process

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates, LLC, Monday, December 19, 2011

Lewis-Burke Associates LLC – December 2011

The U.S. Congress voted to accept a package of fiscal year (FY) 2012 appropriations measures to avoid a shutdown of a significant portion of the Federal Government as the current Continuing Resolution was set to expire Friday night. This action followed months of wrangling over the federal debt and deficit and reducing federal spending. The final bills represent real compromise and sustain important investments in federal research and education programs, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, Department of Defense (DOD) basic research, and Pell grants, at current levels or with modest increases. The House of Representatives passed the package early on Friday while the Senate passed the bills on Saturday.

The final conference agreement details funding amounts and agency directives for federal agencies, including:

  • Defense Appropriations Bill – Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill – Department of Energy (DOE)
  • Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Bill – Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services including the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The $915 billion Consolidated Appropriations bill includes $30.698 billion for NIH for an increase of $299 million (0.7 percent) above FY 2011. The final bill creates the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), which is the top priority for NIH Director Francis Collins, and includes $10 million for the new Cures Acceleration Network (CAN). The bill decreases the NIH salary cap from Executive Level I ($199,700) to Executive Level II ($179,700)—a better outcome than the House draft bill, which recommended Executive Level III, but the first time Congress has decreased the NIH salary cap.

The DOE Office of Science would receive $4.889 billion, an increase of $46.34 million (about one percent) above FY 2011. The final bill provides $20 million each to establish two new Energy Innovation Hubs – one on Batteries and Energy Storage and one on Critical Materials. The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs of the Department are slated for level funding at $1.825 billion. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), will receive $275 million, half of the $550 million requested by the President.

DOD basic and applied research programs remain a priority within the bill as the overall increase for the Department was held to $5 billion above the FY 2011 level, a compromise between the House’s $17 billion increase and the Senate’s proposed freeze. For DOD research overall, a total of $72.4 billion is approved. While this represents a $2.5 billion decrease below the current level, the reduction is less than experienced by other aspects of the defense budget.

The final bill includes the necessary funding to continue the maximum Pell grant award at $5,550, while making changes to the program to reduce cost. However, the program is still expected to face increased funding pressures because of the overall growth of the program.

Additionally, the Senate rejected, in a 43 to 56 vote, a resolution that would have triggered a 1.83 percent across-the-board reduction against all discretionary spending except for defense, military construction, and veterans programs. The reduction was designed to pay for an additional $8.1 billion in disaster relief appropriations, which will now be provided as emergency spending following Senate approval of that legislation.

The Congress also passed, and the President has signed, a bill to extend the Continuing Resolution through December 23rd to allow the President to review and sign the Consolidated Appropriations bill into law this week. These actions will finally complete the FY 2012 appropriations process.

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  DOD  DOE  NIH 

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Implications of Supercommittee Collapse for Science Funding and Higher Education

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates, LLC, Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Media attention has focused on the failure of the 12-member congressional Supercommittee to reach agreement on a package to reduce the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next nine years. However, universities and science organizations are not the victims of the deficit impasse. Generally, federal funding for scientific research is not the target of deficit reduction for several reasons: (1) the amount of domestic discretionary funding for science is not large enough to have significant impact on deficit reduction; (2) science has bipartisan support among politicians since it is part of the innovation economy upon which the country’s financial recovery is partially dependent; and (3) dismantling the scientific infrastructure of the country is counter-productive in the global technology-driven forces of the 21st century. There are aspects of the current federal deficit paralysis that indirectly affect higher education – particularly relating to student aid, academic health centers, and tax policy – but reducing direct federal support of scientific research at academic institutions is not front-and-center.

Now, many are trying to determine what happens next as Congress still has much work to do before adjourning next month. With funding fully enacted for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) the competitive funding arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), with modest increases (NSF and NOAA), flat funding (AFRI) or a slight reduction (NASA), completion of the fiscal year (FY) 2012 appropriations process, especially for NIH funding, is an important challenge. In addition to funding the remaining appropriations bills, which are currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) through December 16th, there are other issues looming before Congress, such as extension of unemployment benefits, doctor payments, and tax extenders. This report describes the impact of the collapse of the Supercommittee at the federal level; however, actions might be taken by state and local governments to respond to possible implications associated with the collapse of the Supercommittee process. 

Near-Term Outlook for Science Funding

Among its many to-dos, Congress must still complete nine remaining FY 2012 appropriations bills, including bills that fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Education (ED). It is expected that this will be done through one large "omnibus” package before the end of the calendar year. As previously reported, other science agencies for which appropriations bills have been passed—namely NSF, NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Agriculture (USDA)—fared relatively well in FY 2012, receiving budgets that are about flat or slightly increased above the FY 2011 enacted level. A similar outcome is expected for basic research in agencies like NIH and DOE in the final appropriations agreement.

One caveat is that it is not uncommon for a modest across-the-board reduction to be included in an omnibus appropriations bill should it be warranted to keep discretionary appropriations within the overall cap of $1.043 trillion enacted in the Budget Control Act (debt limit agreement). Should the appropriations process stall, there has been some discussion of extending the current CR into early next year, which would result in a freeze for all programs at the current (FY 2011) level until Congress completes an omnibus bill or enacts a CR for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Planning is also underway by agencies for the President’s FY 2013 budget request which is expected to be more conservative than in past years and may even be delayed due to the uncertainty of future budget cuts. The FY 2013 process remains very uncertain at the moment with flat funding for federal research agencies considered "a win” in the coming years.

Budget Scenarios for FY 2014 and Beyond

In August, the Budget Control Act enacted a process that would institute automatic across-the-board budget cuts over nine years, known as sequestration, in the event that the Supercommittee could not reach a deal. However, given that the cuts are not scheduled to go into effect until January 2013 (after the election) and are subject to subsequent revision by Congress, it is possible they will be delayed or never triggered at all. In the event no changes are made to the automatic budget cuts, the White House Office of Management and Budget would be required to reduce the discretionary appropriated budget by $109 billion per year for nine years, allocated equally between defense spending and nondefense spending.

Reductions in discretionary spending from 2014 to 2021 would be achieved by reducing the aggregate overall caps on such spending for each year. While the President could propose specific cuts to agencies such as NIH and NSF, specific appropriations would still be subject to the annual congressional appropriations process and program funding could be increased or further decreased within the overall capped amount for all discretionary spending. As a general rule of thumb, if these cuts were allocated proportionately, it would mean 6 to 8 percent reductions to the domestic spending agencies.

Concerns are already being expressed by the Administration and by both Democratic and Republican Members of Congress over the magnitude of potential spending cuts to defense. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the DOD budget could be cut by as much as 10 percent in FY 2013 under the mandated sequester with additional reductions in discretionary defense spending over the nine-year period to estimated savings of about 8.5 percent in FY 2021. Such reductions, totaling an estimated $492 billion, could impact big defense programs already at issue in Congress, as well as drive changes in the structure and mobility of the nation’s military services already under consideration. Additional reductions in mandatory defense spending are also likely under current law. While some want to undo the sequester for defense, the President has threatened to veto any bill that focuses only on exempting defense spending.

In short, the budget outlook for the next several years is uncertain at best. The main question on the table is whether and how to skirt the automatic cuts that would be levied against FY 2013 appropriations as required under the Budget Control Act. However, flat funding for science agencies remains a possibility over the next few years and should be viewed as a "win” in the current budget climate.

Congressional Quarterly (CQ) has produced a graphic that further explains the sequestration process, should that process go forward without changes by Congress:

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  DOE  NIH  NSF  USDA 

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Congress makes progress on FY 2012 appropriations

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Saturday, November 05, 2011
The House and Senate appear to have come together on a strategy to complete consideration of the fiscal year (FY) 2012 appropriations bills.  Rather than combine all 12 appropriations bills into one large omnibus appropriations package, as Congressional appropriators have done in the past, Congressional leaders plan to enact the appropriations bills through a more piecemeal approach; passing three or four appropriations bills at one time in "minibus" appropriations packages.  Congressional leaders from both parties have also indicated that they will adhere to the top line discretionary spending levels that were agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the debt limit bill), which are approximately $24 billion higher than the total discretionary spending level approved by the House earlier in the year.

The first such minibus bill was passed by the Senate on November 1 and included the Senate's Agriculture–FDA appropriations bill, Commerce–Justice-–Science bill, and Transportation–Housing and Urban Development bill.  These bills provide funding for federal research agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among others.  On the evening of November 3, House and Senate appropriators met to begin conference negotiations on the first minibusbill.  Conference members agreed to top line spending targets for each bill that comply with the Budget Control Act.  Specifically, they agreed to $19.6 billion for the Agriculture–FDA bill ($2.4 billion above the House-passed level, and $200 million below the Senate-passed level), $52.7 billion for the Commerce–Justice–Science bill ($2.5 billion more than the House proposed level, and level with the Senate-passed bill), and $55.6 billion for the Transportation–Housing and Urban Development bill ($400 million above the House-proposed level and $300 million above the Senate-passed level).

Negotiators were very courteous to one another during the conference committee meeting, stating their intentions to work together to complete the FY 2012 appropriations bills before the end of the calendar year.  House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) stated that the conferees have been instructed to keep their schedules open over the upcoming Congressional recess period to complete negotiations on the minibus package before November 14.  The House and Senate are expected to pass the first minibus bill during the week of November 14, before the current continuing resolution (CR) expires on November 18.  The minibus package will likely include an additional CR to extend funding for programs under the remaining appropriations bills through mid-December to provide additional time for Congress to complete its work.

While negotiators have agreed to top line funding levels for each appropriations bill, there are still discrepancies between the House and Senate on programs within the bills that will need to be worked out.  This includes emergency aid to states for recent natural disasters and funding for transportation projects through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program, among others.  Funding for science and education programs within these appropriations measures has not been highlighted as an area of contention, and in fact, research agencies are faring quite well in receiving funding that is flat or slightly below current levels.

Appropriators have stated that they may attach additional, less controversial spending bills to this minibus appropriations package such as the Legislative Branch bill and the Homeland Security bill.  The Senate is expected to consider a second minibus package in the coming week which may include the Energy and Water Development bill, the Financial Services bill, and the State and Foreign Operations bill.

This post includes content provided by ASPB's external government relations consultant, Lewis-Burke Associates LLC.

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  House  Senate 

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Sen. Kohl speaks on behalf of agriculture research on Senate floor

Posted By Adam Fagen, Thursday, October 20, 2011
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) took a strong stand for agricultural research on the floor of the U.S. Senate earlier this week. In introducing the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, Sen. Kohl, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, emphasized the priorities in the bill.

Support for agriculture research was seen as one of the most important elements of the bill:

Another priority worthy of protection is agricultural research. Without continued investment, food production in this country and around the globe will not be able to keep up with challenges posed by growing populations, climate change, invasive pests, and other threats. According to the Economic Research Service, global demand for food will grow 70 to 100 percent by 2050. To meet that demand, our production capacity will have to increase. Those increases will not happen without sustained emphasis on agricultural research. Senator Blunt and I have worked hard to protect these investments, often at the expense of other USDA programs.

Sen. Blunt (R-MO) is the Republican Ranking Member on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

Thank you, Senators, for supporting and speaking up on behalf of agriculture research.

Tags:  Congress  research  Senate  USDA 

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Continuing Resolution funds federal government through November 18

Posted By Lewis Burke Associates LLC, Thursday, October 06, 2011
On October 5, President Obama signed a bill to continue funding the operations of the entire Federal Government through November 18.  The Continuing Resolution (CR) (H.R. 2608) is necessary because none of the 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY 2012) were enacted by October 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.  The CR will provide Congress with the opportunity over the next few weeks to negotiate an omnibus appropriations bill to complete the FY 2012 appropriations process.

While the CR was overwhelmingly passed by the House on a 352 to 66 vote, the House Republican leadership depended on nearly an equal number of Democrats to Republicans to pass the CR, reflecting the deep divisions that remain within the House Republican caucus about continued efforts to reduce federal spending.  Both the overall level of spending for FY 2012 and  whether or not to offset spending on disaster aid with funding reductions elsewhere in the budget are issues that are likely to complicate negotiations on a final FY 2012 omnibus appropriations bill.

The Continuing Resolution would:
  • Reduce all discretionary programs across-the-board by 1.503% below the FY 2011 enacted level to keep spending within the $1.043 trillion overall cap enacted in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (debt limit agreement);
  • Limit the activities of Federal agencies to those funded or underway in FY 2011;
  • Provide for certain "anomalies" or special cases where additional authority is needed to continue ongoing activities. For example, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is given the authority to carry out the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program through September 30, 2012, and to carry out the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and the Commercialization Pilot Programs through November 18; and
  • Provide a total of $2.65 billion in disaster relief funding to assist the thousands of Americans who have been affected by floods, wildfires, Hurricane Irene, and the Mid-Atlantic earthquake, and other natural disasters.  The final CR drops the proposed offsetting savings to help pay for the disaster aid funding to which Senate Democrats and the White House objected.   House Republicans initially wanted to partially offset the disaster spending by rescinding (canceling) $1 billion for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, and $100 million from the DOE Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program.
The U.S. Senate passed the CR on a 79 to 12 vote on September 26.  Without passage, the previous CR would have expired at midnight this morning.

This post includes content provided by ASPB's external government relations consultant, Lewis-Burke Associates LLC.

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  White House 

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Senate Approps releases specifics about proposed cuts at NSF

Posted By Adam Fagen, Friday, September 16, 2011
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) has released report language on its proposed CJS budget for fiscal year (FY) 2012.  As we reported earlier this week, the proposed budget for the National Science Foundation (NSF) was $162 million (2.4%) below the FY 2011 level; the new report provides specifics on how the budget will be allocated.

The recommendation is to provide $6.7 billion for NSF in FY 2012, $1.1 billion below the budget request.

The Research & Related Activities (R&RA) account is proposed at $5.4 billion, which is $121 million (2%) below last year, and $811 million (13%) below the budget request.  The report language states that "The Committee’s fiscal year 2012 recommendation renews its support for Federal long-term basic research that has the potential to be transformative to our economy and our way of life in the context of a Federal budget that is shrinking," prioritizing multi-disciplinary, high-risk research.

The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account is recommended to receive $117 million, the same as FY 2011 funding but $108 million (48%) below the budget request.  Of some concern to life scientists is permission for NSF to transfer up to $100 million from the R&RA account to fully fund the Ocean Observatories Initiative or begin work on the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), which is based in the Biological Sciences Directorate.

The Education & Human Resources (EHR) account is proposed at $829 million, a $32 million (4%) reduction from FY 2011 and $82 million (9%) below the budget request.  Despite the cut, the report reinforces that "the future of U.S. competitiveness rests on our ability to train the next generation of scientists and engineers."  The Appropriations Subcommittee speaks in favor of NSF investment in Professional Science Master's programs and several programs to broaden participation in STEM fields.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee accepts NSF's decision to terminate several programs including the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, Graduate STEM Fellows in K–12 Education, National STEM Distributed Learning (Digital Library), Research Initiation to Broaden Participation in Biology, and Science of Learning Centers.  The report also applauds NSF for the creation of the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) to help translate new discoveries into commercial products.  And it affirms that "broadening participation should remain an essential component of the NSF merit review criteria."

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  NSF  Senate 

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Senate Appropriations Subcommittee suggests cuts for NSF

Posted By Adam Fagen, Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies has approved funding legislation for fiscal year (FY) 2012.  The bill provides $52.7 billion in funding, a reduction of $626 million from FY 2011.

Of most interest to ASPB members are the proposed cuts at the National Science Foundation.  Although details have yet to be released, the Subcommittee released the following in their mark:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funded at $6.7 billion, a reduction of $162 million or 2.4 percent below the FY2011 enacted level.

ASPB will keep tabs on the details and the progress of this spending bill...and those for the other agencies of interest to ASPB in both the House and Senate.

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  NSF  Senate 

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Senate Appropriations Committee approves FY 2012 funding for DOE

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Sunday, September 11, 2011
The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget appropriation for the Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the FY 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.  The bill totals $31.625 billion, a reduction of $57 million below the FY 2011 enacted level for programs and agencies funded in the bill.

Given the competition for funding within the bill, the DOE Office of Science, which funds basic research associated with agency missions, fared quite well.  The Senate Committee approves $4.843 billion for the DOE Office of Science, which is essentially a freeze at the FY 2011 enacted funding level.  The Committee recommendation for the DOE Office of Science is $573.5 million (10.6%) below the President’s request.

Detailed funding recommendations for the various programs within the Office of Science are displayed in the chart below.  The Senate bill would provide continuation funding for the three existing Energy Innovation Hubs (Hubs) – the Fuels from Sunlight Hub; the Energy Efficient Building Systems Design Hub, and the Nuclear Energy Modeling and Simulation Hub, for which the President requested $24.3 million each.  As did the House of Representatives, the Senate Committee also approves the new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub within the Office of Basic Energy Sciences, providing $20 million for the new Hub in lieu of the requested $34.2 million. The Committee also recommends $10 million for the predictive modeling of internal combustion engines initiative.

The Senate Committee is silent on the President’s request for $20 million in the Industrial Technologies program within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to establish a new Critical Materials Hub even though its overall recommendation of $96 million for the program matches the House-passed bill which does fund the Hub.  The Senate Committee does not approve the third new Hub requested by the President for Advanced Modeling Grid Research.

The Senate Committee concurs with the President’s request to provide up to $100 million to continue support for the 46 existing Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), but not to fund additional centers at this time.

For the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program, the Senate Committee recommendation of $621.8 million is $10 million (2%) above FY 2011.  The Committee recommends $295.1 million for climate and environmental science, which the House significantly reduced.

The Senate Committee would approve $7.5 million to support  graduate fellowships.

For the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the Senate would provide $250 million to continue support for research into high-risk, high-reward transformational new energy technologies, an increase of $70.4 million (39%) above the FY 2011 enacted funding level, but $300 million (55%) below the President’s request.

The applied research programs of DOE relating to renewable energy through Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) are sustained at the current level of $1.796 billion for FY 2012. The President requested $3.2 billion for these programs.  The House reduced EERE to $1.3 billion overall.  Details of the Senate recommendations for wind and solar energy, biomass, and the technologies programs are included in the following chart.   New initiatives within the EERE programs are unlikely given the constraints under current budget allocations.

Additional details on the funding recommendations approved by the Senate Committee are included in the chart below.

Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, FY 2012

As reported by the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, 9/7/11

(In thousands of dollars)

FY 2011 CR

FY 2012 Subcom Mark

Subcom vs.

FY 11 CR


vs. House

Subcom vs.

FY 12 Request

DOE, total



-42,176 (<1%)

808,254 (3%)

-5,134,802 (17%)





42,665 (<1%)

-573,449 (11%)

Advanced Scientific Computing Research



19,622 (5%)

14,526 (3%)

-23,981 (5%)

Basic Energy Sciences



15,665 (1%)

5,715 (<1%)

-291,140 (15%)

Biological and Environmental Research



10,000 (2%)

74,748 (14%)

-96,077 (13%)

Fusion Energy Sciences Program



-40,000 (11%)

-70,537 (17%)

-64,237 (16%)

High-energy Physics



-15,220 (2%)

-17,000 (2%)

-17,000 (2%)

Nuclear Physics



10,000 (2%)

-1,866 (<1%)

-55,186 (9%)

Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists



-2,600 (12%)

2,151 (12%)

-15,600 (44%)

Science Laboratories Infrastructure



11,053 (9%)

33,313 (32%)

25,000 (22%)




359 (0.01%)

491,364 (38%)

-1,404,053 (44%)

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology




6,550 (7%)

-2,450 (2%)

Biomass and Biorefinery Systems R&D



-2,695 (1%)

30,000 (20%)

-160,500 (47%)

Solar Energy



26,500 (10%)

123,857 (75%)

-167,000 (37%)

Wind Energy




4,000 (5%)

-46,859 (37%)

Geothermal Technology



-4,003 (11%)

-4,000 (11%)

-67,535 (67%)

Water Power



4,000 (13%)

-16,000 (32%)

-4,500 (12%)

Vehicle Technologies



19,157 (6%)

65,157 (26%)

-268,846 (46%)

Building Technologies




60,500 (40%)

-260,200 (55%)

Industrial Technologies



-12,241 (11%)


-223,784 (70%)

Federal Energy Management Program



-402 (1%)


-3,072 (9%)

Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability



-10 (<1%)

1,504 (1%)

-96,717 (41%)

Nuclear Energy



-141,824 (20%)

-149,633 (20%)

-170,028 (23%)

Fossil Energy Research and Development



-185,529 (42%)

-217,993 (46%)

-193,975 (43%)




70,360 (39%)

70,360 (39%)

-300,011 (55%)

Loan Guarantee Program






DOE Defense Activities



527,480 (5%)

450,969 (4%)

-662,598 (6%)

Weapons Activities



293,602 (4%)

98,339 (1%)

-399,384 (5%)

Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation



109,347 (5%)

326,230 (15%)

-136,492 (5%)

Defense Environmental Cleanup



22,262 (<1%)

64,381 (1%)

-404,781 (7%)

Army Corps of Engineers, total



6,787 (<1%)

95,594 (2%)

291,000 (6%)

Bureau of Reclamation, total



4,415 (<1%)

161,704 (18%)

48,611 (5%)

For additional information, including the Appropriations Committee’s press release, please see the Senate Appropriations Committee website: .

This post includes content provided by ASPB's external government relations consultant, Lewis-Burke Associates LLC.

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  DOE  energy  Senate 

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Senate Appropriations Committee approves FY 2012 funding for USDA

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Friday, September 09, 2011

On September 7, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the fiscal year (FY) 2012 appropriations bill which funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and related agencies. The bill would provide a total of $19.78 billion in discretionary funding, a reduction of $138 million (less than one percent) below the FY 2011 enacted level and $2.2 billion (10%) below the President’s FY 2012 budget request. The bill also provides significant funding for mandatory programs including food stamps, child nutrition programs, federal crop insurance, and commodity price stabilization activities.

While the Senate bill includes reductions below the FY 2011 level for many programs, it represents a significant improvement over the House-passed bill due to the enactment of the Budget Control Act (debt-limit agreement), which included a discretionary spending cap for the Appropriations Committees that is $24 billion more than the House allocation under the House-passed budget resolution.

Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) [at right] characterized the Senate bill as "very austere” and highlighted Subcommittee priorities including protecting public health and safety; maintaining current services for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and other nutrition programs; making continued investments in research; supporting rural development; supporting foreign food aid; and responding to floods and other disasters, of which the Senate bill would provide $266 million for disaster aid.

For the USDA research programs, the Senate Committee sought to sustain most funding levels. A total of $2.3 billion would be provided for agricultural research through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), which is $39 million below the FY 2011 level.

For NIFA overall, a total of $1.214 billion is recommended in the Senate bill, a reduction of $798,000 below the FY 2011 level but $9.231 million above the House-passed bill. NIFA’s competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), would receive $266 million, an increase of $1.53 million above the FY 2011 level, but $59 million below the President’s FY 2012 request. The Senate recommendation for AFRI is $41.0 million above the House-passed bill.

The Senate Committee sustained support for the formula funds for land-grant colleges and universities as a priority in its version of the bill. Funding administered through the Hatch Act would be sustained at the FY 2011 level of $236.0 million. For Extension Activities under the Smith-Lever Act 3(b) and 3(c), the Senate would provide $296.0 million, an increase of $2.09 million above the FY 2011 level. For Extension Activities overall, a total of $478.2 million is recommended, slightly below the FY 2011 level, but $67.0 million above the House-passed level.

The Senate bill includes reductions for USDA’s rural development programs below the FY 2011 level. In addition, reductions are recommended for Housing and Community Development Programs, Business Programs, Rural Utilities Programs, the National Conservation Service and the Watershed Rehabilitation Program.

A $40 million increase over current spending is recommended in the Senate bill for the Food and Drug Administration, which would receive nearly $2.5 billion for FY 2012. The Senate would also sustain the Food Safety and Inspection Service at $1.0 billion, the same as the FY 2011 level.

The prospects for the bill being considered by the full Senate are uncertain given the short time remaining before the beginning of the 2012 fiscal year on October 1 and the need to enact a Continuing Resolution before then to finance continued operation of the entire federal government. An omnibus appropriations bill later this year is anticipated.

A chart detailing proposed funding levels for key programs of interest to the research and education community is below.

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill, FY 2012

As reported by the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, 9/7/11

(In thousands of dollars)

FY 2011 CR

FY 2012 Subcom Mark

Subcom vs.

FY 2011 CR

Subcom vs. House

Subcom vs.

FY 2012 Request

USDA, Research



-278,182 (11%)

75,395 (3%)

-285,762 (11%)




-38,181 (3%)

101,704 (10%)

-42,641 (4%)




-798 (<1%)

194,000 (19%)

9,231 (<1%)

Research and Education



11,085 (2%)

109,025 (18%)

1,718 (<1%)




-954 (<1%)

66,978 (16%)

11,390 (2%)




-10,978 (30%)

17,948 (224%)

-3,926 (13%)


264, 470


1,530 (<1%)

41,000 (18%)

-58,655 (18%)

     Hatch Act



-334 (<1%)

28,000 (13%)

31,750 (16%)

     Smith-Lever Act 3(b) and 3(c)



2,089 (<1%)

36,800 (14%)

13,375 (5%)

     Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA)




34,596 (4%)

-4,907 (<1%)

FDA, total



39,999 (1.6%)

324,761 (15%)

-246,965 (9%)

Rural Development



-10,776 (<1%)

327,229 (16%)

218,166 (10%)

See the Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee for additional information.

This post includes content provided by ASPB's external government relations consultant, Lewis-Burke Associates LLC.

Tags:  appropriations  Congress  Senate  USDA 

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Debt ceiling increased; what is the impact on science and education?

Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Moments ago, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011 on a vote of 74-26, which raises the nation's debt ceiling, thus preventing a possible government default at the end of the day.  The U.S. House of Representatives had passed the bill on a vote of 269-161 last night.  President Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly.

Members of the ASPB community may be curious about the impact of this bill on the scientific and educational communities.  First, some key take-aways:
  • The Budget Control Act of 2011, largely resembles recent proposals introduced by House Republicans and Senate Democrats in that it would cap discretionary spending for the next ten years and require future deficit reduction to be determined by a joint Congressional Committee and approved by Congress by December 23, 2011.
  • The discretionary spending cap for fiscal year (FY) 2012 would be $24 billion above the levels currently governing the House appropriations bills. The agreement, however, would establish "firewalls" around security and non‐security spending so that funding could not be redistributed between the two categories of spending.
  • While the plan would not initially cut federal science and education programs, these and other programs subject to annual appropriations could be subject to funding cuts in the deficit reduction package that must pass Congress before the end of 2011.
  • The bill would largely make up for the shortfall in mandatory funding for the Pell grant program, but additional discretionary funding will be required to maintain the $5,550 maximum award. It would also reform federal student aid programs, cutting interest subsidy loans for graduate and professional students and some student loan repayment incentives.
The bill would cap discretionary spending levels at $1.043 trillion in FY 2012, a slight reduction from FY 2011 discretionary spending which totaled about $1.049 trillion, but an increase of approximately $24 billion over the House‐passed budget resolution for FY 2012. Caps on discretionary spending would gradually increase to $1.234 trillion by FY 2021 and save an estimated $917 billion over that time frame. The bill establishes a "firewall" around security and non‐security spending so that funding could not be redistributed between the two categories of spending. Security spending is defined in the bill as funding for the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the intelligence community management account, and Function 150 programs (State Department and International Assistance).

The bill would allow the President to raise the debt ceiling by $400 billion right away and by another $500 billion after that. However, Congress can vote to stop the second increase in the debt ceiling. Future increases in the debt ceiling, which will be required by the end of 2011, would be subject to passage of another $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next nine years, which may include both spending cuts and revenue raisers. Should Congress fail to pass a deficit reduction measure by December 23 that reduces the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion, the bill would force across‐the‐board cuts (sequestration) totaling $1.2 trillion or the difference between the deficit reduction package agreed to by Congress and the $1.2 trillion level. Cuts would be equally divided between security and non‐security programs to provide incentive for both Republicans and Democrats to broker a deal. Social Security, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, and other essential benefits would be exempt from cuts. Cuts to Medicare are capped at 2 percent and are limited to funding for providers.

The bill also includes $17 billion in mandatory funding for the Pell grant program. President Obama’s FY 2012 budget request assumes a $20 billion shortfall for the Pell Grant program in order to continue to fund the maximum Pell at $5,550. While the plan would provide the bulk of the estimated shortfall, additional discretionary funding would still be needed within the appropriations process to fund Pell at the maximum grant level for FY 2012.

Finally, the bill includes a provision requiring both the House and the Senate to vote on a balanced
budget amendment to the Constitution before the end of the year. The debt limit increase, however, is not contingent on passage of the amendment as it was in an earlier House version of this legislation.

This post includes content provided by ASPB's external government relations consultant, Lewis-Burke Associates LLC.

Tags:  appropriations  Congress 

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ASPB member Patrick Schnable gives Capitol Hill seminar on the future of our food

Posted By Kathy R. Munkvold, Tuesday, July 26, 2011

ASPB member Patrick Schnable addressed a standing room only crowd of congressional staffers, agency representatives, and others interested in scientific research in a hearing room for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture. The presentation was part of National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research’s (National C-FAR’s) "Lunch~N~Learn” seminar series. Schnable is the Baker Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University, the founding director of the university’s Center for Plant Genomics, and a member of the ASPB public affairs committee. He was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010.

The seminar, entitled "Mapping for the future of our food,” focused on the importance of public sector funding of plant science research and development in boosting crop yields amid increasing demands for plant-based products including food, feed, fiber, and fuel. Schnable called for innovation in addressing potential challenges, namely decreasing amounts of arable land, increasing costs and undesirable ecological impacts of agricultural inputs, and coping with climate variability.

Schnable highlighted the value of next generation sequencing technologies in linking genes to crop traits resulting in ultimate improvements in yield, disease and pest resistance, and nutrient utilization. He sees traditional breeding and genetic engineering as complementary approaches in meeting this goal. He stressed that U.S. involvement in this type of agricultural research is essential. In the absence of federal support for scientific research in these areas, other countries have the means to do this research and will profit in areas such as intellectual property, including patents on genes associated with beneficial traits, and job growth at our expense. He emphasized that the time between the initial research and a finished crop variety displaying an enhanced trait is on the scale of a decade or more—so now is the time to make investments to address anticipated challenges ahead. Moreover, public sector support must be continuous to allow progress to be made.

National C-FAR is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, consensus-based, and customer-led coalition that brings food, agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and natural resource stakeholders (including ASPB) together with the food and agricultural research and extension community. The coalition serves as a forum and a unified voice in support of sustaining and increasing public investment at the national level in food and agricultural research, extension, and education. For additional information, go to

Tags:  Congress  event  National C-FAR 

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Senate Agriculture Committee will host Farm Bill field hearing in Kansas

Posted By Adam Fagen, Tuesday, July 05, 2011
The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry will hold a field hearing on the Farm Bill in Wichita, Kansas, on August 25, 2011, according to a press release from Ranking Member Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS).

As quoted in the release, Sen. Roberts said, "This hearing will allow us to garner insight from our producers in Kansas as we begin the important task of writing the next Farm Bill. Their perspectives on current agriculture programs and the direction of this next Farm Bill are critical to the committee’s work in drafting policies that provide producers and rural America with the tools necessary for success."

The hearing will be held Thursday, August 25, 2011, from 9 a.m.-noon CDT, at the Hilton Wichita Airport, 2098 Airport Road, Wichita, Kansas.

You may participate in the hearing by submitting written testimony which will be included in the official record of the hearing. A copy of your testimony can be submitted at the hearing or can be sent to the committee no later than Thursday, September 1, 2011. Send your testimony to or to U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry, 328A Russell Senate Office Bldg, Washington, D.C. 20510.

Tags:  Congress  Farm Bill  Senate 

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ASPB member to offer Capitol Hill briefing on biofuels on June 24

Posted By Adam Fagen, Thursday, June 23, 2011
ASPB member Donald P. Weeks will be a featured speaker in a June 24, 2011, Capitol Hill briefing on "The Road to the New Energy Economy: Biofuels from Algae."

Rayburn House Office Building, Room B-369
Friday, June 24, 2011
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Weeks, who is Maxcy Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studies the genetic and molecular mechanisms involved in the ability of algal cells (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) to enhance photosynthesis by increasing internal levels of CO2 to 60x the external levels of CO2 (i.e., a carbon concentrating mechanism) and the genetic engineering of crop plants for enhanced photosynthesis, disease resistance and herbicide resistance. Weeks also serves as director of the Nebraska Coalition for Algal Biology and Biotechnology.

Also speaking at the event is Connie Lausten, principal of cLausten LLC, who has helped develop new technologies and shape policies from electricity to biofuels. The discussion will be moderated by Corey S. Powell, the editor-in-chief of DISCOVER Magazine.

The event is presented by the National Science Foundation and DISCOVER Magazine in cooperation with IEEE-USA and ASME.

Additional information:

Tags:  biofuels  Congress  event 

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