Congress Nearing Completion on FY 1996 NSF Budget

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Publication date: 
13 September 1995
Number: 
127

The Senate Appropriations Committee met this morning to consider
H.R. 2099, the VA, HUD, Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill
for FY 1996.  This meeting follows earlier action this week by
Senator Christopher Bond's (R-Missouri) appropriations subcommittee
on the bill.  This is what is now known about the subcommittee's
recommendations regarding the National Science Foundation's
appropriation for the new fiscal year beginning on October 1.

The earlier House version of H.R. 2099, as well as the Senate
subcommittee's recommendations, provide 100% of NSF's budget
request for Education and Human Resources, Academic Research
Infrastructure, and Major Research Equipment.  It should be noted
that in each of these areas the foundation requested less money for
FY 1996 than it now receives.  These and other NSF activities such
as salaries and expenses account for 27% of NSF's request.

Approximately 73% of NSF's original budget request was for the
Research and Related Activities account.  Both the House bill, and
Senate subcommittee recommendations, provide less than the $2,454
million originally requested.  The House bill provides around 92%
of the request, a cut of $200 million.  The Senate subcommittee
recommendations cut less: $160 million.  (The current Research and
Related Activities budget is $2,280 million.)

Within the near future, the Senate will take up H.R. 2099.
Following its passage on the Senate floor, the House and Senate
will appoint conferees to resolve differences between the two
versions of the bill.  There is expected to be little disagreement
about NSF.  With only the Research and Related Activities budget in
dispute, it can be expected that the final R&RA figure will lie
somewhere in the narrow $40 million difference.  (For example, if
conferees decide to split the difference, the Research and Related
Activities appropriation for next year would be $2,274 million, a
decline of $6 million from the current budget, although $180
million below the FY 1996 request.)

The final NSF appropriation is still somewhat tentative because it
is only a part of a much larger bill funding the VA, NASA,
Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental
Protection Agency.  EPA was cut by 32% and HUD by 24% in the House
version of H.R. 2099.  The Clinton Administration has made known
its opposition to these cuts, and a presidential veto is
threatened.  If Congress decides to restore some of these cuts to
get the president's acceptance of H.R. 2099, it may have to look
for money in other areas of the bill.  So while the outlook for NSF
funding seems positive for FY 1996, there remain uncertainties in
the coming weeks.

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