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.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) is pleased
with President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request, which improves
upon his past commitments to the agricultural and plant sciences.
sustainable future, with a more nimble, more complete, and innovative
workforce, is in the national
interest. The challenge, however, is to
execute this strategy in an era of economic limits where anticipated outcomes
must justify the investment of limited resources. We cannot meet the food, shelter, and energy
demands of our burgeoning global population—especially with climate instability
as a backdrop—if investment into plant-related research stagnates in this
country. Ending that stagnation,
however, will allow us to leverage the new technologies that are transforming
biology, thereby accelerating the pace of discovery and promising creative and
sustainable solutions. President Obama’s FY 2014 proposed budget is
a step toward addressing these issues.
ASPB applauds the President’s strong commitment to the National Science
Foundation and the proposed increase of $4 million to the Plant Genome Research
Program, as well as the President’s proposed increases to Basic Energy Sciences
and Biological and Environmental Research within the Department of Energy’s
Office of Science. Notably, ASPB is also
pleased with the President’s request for a substantial increase to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, proposing
an increase of over 28 percent compared to the recently-passed FY 2013 level
from Congress, not accounting for sequestration.
If the United
States is to tackle societal challenges
in food, energy, environment, and health, strategic investments in the
agricultural and plant sciences is vital.
ASPB hopes the President will continue his dedication to these issues
and urges Congress to commit to these needs, as well.
In an email to USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) partners, NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy released the agency's plan for implementing the sequester. NIFA plans on funding all existing Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) awards, but will likely fund fewer new grants under the 5% reduction required by sequestration. Formula and capacity funding along with other research, education and extension program funding would also take a hit.
As you are likely aware, due to the failure of Congress
to reach a deal on balanced deficit reduction to avoid sequestration, the
President was required by law to issue a sequestration order canceling
approximately $85 billion in budgetary resources across the Federal government
for the remainder of the fiscal year (FY) 2013.
It is our intent at the National Institute of Food and
Agriculture (NIFA) and the Department of Agriculture
(USDA) to provide you with clear information about how
these budget cuts impact us, and in turn what it means for funds provided to
our land-grant universities and other partners who benefit from programs
administered by NIFA.
At this time, USDA is taking every step to mitigate the
effects of these cuts, but based on our initial analysis, it is possible that
your organization’s workforce, revenue, and planning processes may be affected.
Based on the
5 percent sequestration reductions that apply to the FY
2013 funding amounts, NIFA anticipates the following funding impacts:
reduction of $13 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
(AFRI), competitive grants program, potentially resulting in fewer new proposals
that may be funded during FY 2013;
Continuation awards from previous Fiscal Years will not be impacted by the
sequestration, and, continued funding will be based on evaluations of
performance and meeting stated goals;
Reductions totaling almost $37 million for capacity/formula funding;
Reductions for other research, education and extension programs totaling over $10 million.
While we are currently operating under the FY 2013 Continuing
Resolution, which provides temporary funding through March 27, 2013, NIFA is
proceeding with announcements for Requests for Applications for most
competitive grants programs and will hold competitive peer review panels.
However, grant awards will be contingent upon receipt of final FY 2013
NIFA plans to release some Formula Grant Opportunities
announcements soon. Consistent with the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, only up
to 40 percent of the FY 2012 funding level will be released for the first two
Thank you for your continued partnership with the USDA
and NIFA, and for your cooperation as we work together to manage these
As always, we will continue to notify you as the
situation with FY 2013 funding levels moves through the appropriations process
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
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
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: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/ht-full.cfm?method=hearings.view&id=17d3dc99-c065-4bec-a7c8-cfd374bf41a3.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Monday, April 23, 2012
On April 19, the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee and the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved their respective versions of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 CJS appropriations bill, which funds the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). NSF, NIST, NOAA, and NASA are particular winners in the House bill. At this point, it is still too early to compare the House mark with the bill the Senate Appropriations Committee approved earlier today as details on the Senate bill remain scarce.
As previously reported, there is low likelihood of Congress passing any appropriations bills for FY 2013 before the November elections. Furthermore, the House appropriations bills will be a total of $19 billion below the level set in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (debt-limit agreement) while the Senate Appropriations Committee intends to write its bills to the higher level of $1.047 trillion approved last year in the Act. Below are additional details on NSF funding in the House CJS Subcommittee bill.
Similar to the Senate, the National Science Foundation (NSF) would continue to receive strong bipartisan support in the House, with the House Subcommittee proposing $7.333 billion overall for NSF, an increase of $299 million or four percent over FY 2012, $41 million or less than one percent below the FY 2013 request, and $60 million above the Senate mark. With the exception of the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account, the Subcommittee would support all NSF accounts at the President’s FY 2013 requested level. The Subcommittee would provide an increase of $254 million or five percent over FY 2012 to the R&RA account; however, this amount would be a decrease of $41 million or less than one percent below the President’s request for FY 2013.
The House Subcommittee bill would fully fund OSTP at the President’s request of $6 million, which is an increase of $1 million (30 percent) over the FY 2012 level.
House CJS Appropriations Bill, FY 2013
As reported by the House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee, 4/19/12
National Science Foundation
FY 2012 Enacted
FY 2013 Request
House vs. Senate
Research & Related Activities (R&RA)
Education & Human Resources (EHR)
Major Research Equipment & Facilities Construction (MREFC)
Agency Operations & Award Management
National Science Board (NSB)
Office of Inspector General
* Percentage comparison is to the FY 2012 enacted level.
† Percentage comparison is to the FY 2012 enacted level.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
On April 17, the Senate
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations
Subcommittee approved its version of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 appropriations
bill, which funds the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST),
and Economic Development Administration (EDA). The bill is a mixed bag
for these agencies, of which NSF and NIST are the clearest winners as they
would receive substantial increases over their FY 2012 funding levels.
NASA Science also fares well. However, the bill would deal a heavy blow
to NOAA, by transferring its weather satellite programs to NASA, while EDA
would receive a decrease below the FY 2012 level. The Subcommittee passed
the bill on a 17 to one vote with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) as the lone
Although the overall CJS
bill would cut $1 billion from the FY 2012 level, it is important to note there
is low likelihood of Congress passing any appropriations bills for FY 2013
before the November elections as there is an extreme divide between both
Democrats and Republicans, as well as between the House and Senate. The
Senate plans to write the appropriations bills at the level agreed to last
August in the Budget Control Act while the House bills will be a total of $19
While no details are
available regarding specific NSF priorities and programs, the bill would fund
the National Science Foundation at $7.3 billion, down $100 million (1.4
percent) from the President’s FY 2013 budget request, but $240 million or 3.4
percent above the FY 2012 level.
CJS Appropriations Bill, FY 2013
reported by the Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee, 4/17/12
FY 2013 Request
FY 2013 Subcom Mark*
FY 2012 Enacted
FY 2013 Request
* Senate CJS numbers reflect amounts from the
Subcommittee press release, which have been rounded. Exact numbers are
not yet available.
† The increase to NASA reflects the proposal to move
NOAA’s satellite procurement and management activities to NASA. Without
this large increase, the Senate CJS bill would cut NASA by $41.5 million below
the FY 2012 level.
The cut to NOAA reflects a proposal to move of NOAA’s satellite procurement and
management activities, which constitute more than one-third of the agency’s
budget, to NASA.
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
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
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
Indirect costs, also known as facilities and
administration costs, included in many USDA National Institute of Food and
Agriculture (NIFA) funded grants have previously been limited to at most
22%. The FY
2012 minibus appropriations bill provides language (see below) that allows
for up to 30% for indirect costs, at least for grants funded in FY 2012. Indirect cost rates for most research
institutions hover around 50%. This
change in policy at the USDA represents a major step towards rates honored at
other science funding agencies.
Text from the appropriations bill:
720. None of the funds in this Act shall be available to pay indirect costs
charged against any agricultural research, education, or extension grant awards
issued by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture that exceed 30 percent
of total Federal funds provided under each award: Provided, That
notwithstanding section 1462 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension,
and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (7 U.S.C. 3310), funds provided by this Act for
grants awarded competitively by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture
shall be available to pay full allowable indirect costs for each grant awarded
under section 9 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 638).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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;
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.
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."
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.
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
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
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
Senate Energy and Water
Development Appropriations Bill, FY 2012
As reported by the Senate Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Subcommittee, 9/7/11
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
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
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
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
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
A chart detailing proposed funding levels for
key programs of interest to the research and education community is
Appropriations Bill, FY 2012
As reported by the Senate Agriculture Appropriations
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.
Several amendments have been proposed that would have a catastrophic impact on funding for USDA research.
In particular, an amendment (H.AMDT.428) from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) would cut $1.8 billion from USDA including a cut of $650 million from the Agricultural Research Service (a 65% cut!), $85 million from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, $43 from the Economic Research Service, and $1.04 billion from the Food for Peace Grants.
We urge you to contact your Congressional representatives IMMEDIATELY and urge them to oppose Rep. Chaffetz's amendment and any amendments that would be harmful to research.
There are several other amendments proposed that would impact funding for USDA research. We will update this blog post with more details.
A group of Democratic senators led by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Ranking Member Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) in support of USDA research funding. The senators asked that the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) be funded at $324.6 million, the level requested by President Obama for fiscal year (FY) 2012 and a $60 million increase over FY2011 levels.
"We appreciate the constraints you face in allocating scarce dollars for discretionary programs at USDA," the senators wrote. "However, investing in research is investing in America's future. If America is going to be competitive in the global economy in the coming decades, we have to address long-term challenges by making strong investments in agricultural research today. We urge you to make AFRI a priority as you make your Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations decisions."
The senators especially singled out biomass feedstocks as a critical contribution of USDA research:
We are especially encouraged that AFRI has made biomass feedstock development a high priority for its upcoming grant awards. Meeting our national Renewable Fuels Standard goal of producing 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022 will require a substantial investment in the production of high-quality, cost-effective feedstocks for advanced biofuel production. Developing these feedstocks, and the most sustainable methods of growing them, presents exciting economic development opportunities in America's rural communities, but only if we act today to make the necessary research investments.
Joining Sen. Franken on the letter were Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
Details about the budget deal worked out in the last hours before a planned federal government shutdown last Friday are beginning to emerge.
And although the deal for the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget cuts $38.5 billion from the FY 2010 spending levels that the government had been operating under, most of the science agencies are spared big cuts. First, all non-defense discretionary spending would be reduced by 0.2% across the board. Here's the rundown from the agencies of most interest to ASPB members:
Department of Agriculture
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture would receive XXX, a reduction of $126 million below FY 2010 levels, with the cuts mostly in earmarked programs. The competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative would receive $265 million, which is actually a slightly increase (~1%) over FY 2010 levels.
The Agricultural Research Service would receive $1.135 billion, a reduction of $44 million from FY 2010 levels.
Department of Energy
The Department of Energy's Office of Science would receive $4.884 billion in the final FY 2011 appropriations bill, a reduction of $25 million below the FY 2010 enacted level.
This is $866 million above the level proposed earlier by the House.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would receive $180 million.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
NIH would receive $30.7 billion in the final FY 2011 appropriations bill. This represents a cut of $260 million (0.8%) from FY 2010 levels. $210 million would be cut from research funding and $50 million from buildings and facilities at NIH's Bethesda, MD, campus.
This is much less than the $1.6 billion cut originally passed by the House.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
NSF would receive $6.874 billion, which is $53 million (0.8%) below the FY 2010 level. The Research & Related Activities account would be funded at $5.575 billion, which is $43 million (0.8%) below FY 2010, and the Education & Human Resources account would be funded at $862.8 million, which is $10 million (1.2%) below FY 2010 levels.
It's Friday afternoon and there's no agreement yet on a Continuing Resolution or final fiscal year 2011 budget. That means that all non-essential federal government services and offices are scheduled to shut down at midnight tonight.
Several federal agencies have issued guidance on operations during a funding hiatus:
ASPB Public Affairs Committee member Elizabeth Hood testified on behalf of ASPB before the House Appropriations
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies at a March 11 Outside Witness hearing.
Hood spoke in support of funding for the National Science
Foundation (NSF) and the $7.767 billion requested for fiscal year 2012. While recognizing the difficult fiscal
environment faced by the nation, Hood’s testimony emphasized that investments
in scientific research will be a critical step toward economic recovery.
Hood mentioned that "the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences is a
critical source of funding for scientific research, providing 68 percent of the
federal support for non-medical basic life sciences research at U.S. academic
institutions.” "Despite the fact that
basic plant biology research—the kind of research funded by the NSF—underpins
so many vital practical considerations, the amount invested in understanding
the basic function and mechanisms of plants is relatively small when compared
with the impact plants have on our economy and in addressing some of the
nation’s most urgent challenges such as food and energy security.”
Among the high impact programs supported by NSF is the Plant Genome
Research Program (PGRP), which has laid a strong scientific research foundation
for understanding plant genomics as it relates to energy (biofuels), health
(nutrition and functional foods), agriculture (impact of changing climates on
agronomic ecosystems), and the environment (plants’ roles as primary producers
in ecosystems). Hood asked that PGRP be
restored as a separate line within the NSF budget, as in years past, and be
funded at the highest possible level.
Hood also spoke in support of NSF’s career and workforce development
programs—including graduate traineeships, fellowships, and career transition
awards—as well NSF’s diversity programs and the research the agency supports on
teaching and learning.
Hood is distinguished professor of agriculture at Arkansas State
University. ASPB’s complete written
testimony may be found at http://bit.ly/e9RftK.