Senate Panel Approves FY2018 Science Funding Levels, Rejects Scope of President’s Proposed Cuts

On July 27, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up the FY 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS), and Related Agencies Appropriations bill and passed it favorably. The brief hearing did not include many surprises, as a manager’s amendment was introduced early in the proceeding.

In many ways, the Senate’s legislation was similar to the House’s proposal, which passed the House Appropriations Committee on July 13. Compared to the president’s budget request, there are only modest cuts proposed to many science programs. Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) lauded subcommittee chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for developing a bipartisan bill. Full Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) criticized the president’s budget request for proposing draconian cuts to vital programs. Leahy characterized the CJS bill as an improvement upon the president’s budget proposal, yet he stated that Congress continues to underfund critical science and research investments.

The bill would authorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $7.31 billiona $161 million reduction from last year’s level and $658 million more than the president’s proposal. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would receive $5.6 billion, which is an $85 million cut below last year’s enacted level but $819 million above than the president’s proposal. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would receive $19.5 billion, a $124 million cut below last year’s enacted level but $437 million more than the president’s proposal. The bipartisan bill demonstrated a rejection in the size and scope of the president’s proposed cuts, but as both Democrats and Republicans acknowledged, their work was affected by an existing allocation.

The next step for this bill will be consideration by the full Senate, although it is unclear if this bill will considered on its own or included in an omnibus package, or if federal funding for FY 2018 will be resolved via a continuing resolution. 

More information on budget plans will come in September. To listen to the hearing and find supporting documents, including legislative and report language, visit this page.


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