Getting Closer: House Approves Additional Science Funding

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Publication date: 
20 June 2008

"I’m particularly pleased that in the legislation there is a signal sent that this Congress cares about investments in science, cares about the future, not as much as I would like, but nonetheless, I thank you, Mr. Chairman [David Obey (D-WI)], for including that critical funding and I thank my colleagues for accepting it." - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

"The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 2642 because it is consistent with the principles laid out by the President for an acceptable bill. H.R. 2642 provides our troops the resources they need, does not micromanage our military commanders, and stays within the President’s reasonable discretionary spending limits for FY 2008 and FY 2009."   - Office of Management and Budget

At 8:13 last night the six-month-long effort to increase current year funding for the National Science Foundation, the DOE Office of Science, NASA, and the National Institutes of Health  turned a corner toward success.  The House of Representatives voted 416-12 to pass H.R. 2462, a supplemental appropriations bill that has the support of the White House.  The measure now moves to the Senate, which is expected to pass the bill.  The House also passed a separate bill  providing war-fighting funding for this year and part of next year.

Here are the numbers and the language, taken from the supplemental appropriations legislation:

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION - SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS AND EXPLORATION: "The amended bill includes $62,500,000 for Science, Aeronautics and Exploration." 

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION - RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES: "The amended bill includes $22,500,000 for Research and Related Activities, of which $5,000,000 shall be available solely for activities authorized by section 7002(b)(2)(A)(iv) of Public Law 110-69." This citation refers to EPSCoR in the America COMPETES Act.

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION - EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES: "The amended bill includes $40,000,000 for Education and Related Activities of which $20,000,000 is for section 10 of the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 1862n–1) and $20,000,000, is for activities authorized by section 10A of the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 1862n–1a)."  These citations refer to the Robert Noyce scholarship programs.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY - ENERGY PROGRAMS - SCIENCE: "The amended bill includes an additional $62,500,000 for Science. The Department of Energy is instructed to utilize this funding to eliminate all furloughs and reductions in force which are a direct result of budgetary constraints. Workforce reductions which are a result of completed work or realignment of mission should proceed as planned. This funding is intended to maintain technical expertise and capability at the Office of Science, and may be used for National Laboratory Research and Development including research related to new neutrino initiatives. Funding for research efforts shall not be allocated until the Office of Science has fully funded all personnel requirements."

NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH - OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR (INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS): "The amended bill provides $150,000,000 in additional funding for the National Institutes of Health to support additional scientific research. This funding is to be distributed on a pro-rata basis across the NIH institutes and centers."

This section of the House bill also includes $62.5 million for Defense Environmental Cleanup.

Commenting on the House action, House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) said, "The inclusion of competitiveness funding in this supplemental bill - and the strong funding levels expected to be included in the FY09 House appropriations bills - should leave no doubt about this Congress' commitment to Federal funded basic research and math and science education."

When the Senate considers this bill next week, efforts might be made to increase funding for other domestic programs, requiring the bill to be sent back to the House for reconsideration.  Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called H.R. 2462 a "pretty good bill" that might pass the Senate as it is now written.  It is now thought that $10 billion in other program funding that the House dropped from the Senate's previously-passed supplemental bill may be considered in a second supplemental bill.  While senators from both parties are displeased at the process as well as the outcome in the House-passed supplemental bill, the consensus appears to be leaning toward getting this bill on the President's desk without further delay.  Despite what have been very long odds, that bill will include $337.5 million in additional current year funding for the DOE Office of Science, NASA, NIH, and the NSF.