“This is a fair bill that recognizes the stark fiscal reality that faces our country. The subcommittee has worked hard to ensure that our highest priorities - defense of our country and support for American innovation and competitiveness - receive critical funding.” So said Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) when describing the FY 2012 bill providing funding for the Department of Energy that was approved by the subcommittee this morning.
Under this bill the FY 2012 budget for the Office of Science would be $4,800.0 million. This is a decline of 0.9 percent or $42.7 million from current year funding of $4,842.7 million. The Obama Administration requested $5,416.1 million.
The FY 2012 bill approved by voice vote in the subcommittee today is a dramatic contrast to a bill that the House passed on February 19 to provide funding for the remainder of this year, FY 2011. Under this legislation, H.R. 1, funding for the Office of Science was $4,017.7 million. This bill was not enacted.
Today’s subcommittee’s action followed a vote on the House floor yesterday making a proposed $30 billion reduction in government-wide FY 2012 discretionary spending as compared to the current year. This spending cap translated into a reduction of more than $1 billion or 3.3 percent for Frelinghuysen’s subcommittee that funds the DOE, some programs of the Department of the Interior, the Army Corps of Engineers (Civil) and four Independent Agencies. The Appropriations Committee states that the total cost of this bill, $30.6 billion, is approximately the same as it was in 2006. Overall funding for DOE was reduced by 3.3 percent in the new bill.
In commenting on the subcommittee’s reduced funding allocation, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), the Ranking Member on the full Appropriations Committee, stated, “When Democrats were first made aware of the 302(b) Subcommittee Allocation for Energy and Water, as with the other allocations, we knew it would necessitate severe cuts to vital programs. I understand the difficult position this put Chairman Frelinghuysen in crafting this bill.”
Other program budgets within the bill would be significantly reduced. As compared to current year funding, ARPA-E’s budget would be cut by 44.3 percent. The budget for the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program would be reduced by 27.3 percent. The subcommittee recommended a 9.5 percent reduction in the nuclear non-proliferation program. Total funding for the Army Corps of Engineers would decline 1.8 percent, and for Interior Department programs by 14.7 percent.
Of note, the subcommittee recommended increases in some program budgets. Funding for nuclear energy would increase 1.1 percent, for NNSA’s weapons activities program by 2.8 percent, and for fossil energy R&D by 7.3 percent.
Considerably more detail about this bill will be contained in the accompanying committee report that will be released after the full appropriations committee considers the bill on June 15.