FY 2012 NASA/NIST/NSF Funding Bill Nearing Completion; Senate Debates Energy Bill

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Publication date: 
14 November 2011

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NASA,  National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation:

If  all goes as scheduled, later today the final version of the FY 2012  appropriations bill funding NASA, the National Institute of Standards and  Technology, and the National Science Foundation bill will be released.  This $127.8 billion “minibus” bill, which  also funds the Departments of Agriculture; Commerce; Housing and Urban  Development; Justice; Transportation; and a number of federal agencies, was  written by a conference of House and Senate appropriators.

No  details have been released about this conference report, which will also  continue the current level of funding for all other federal departments and  agencies through mid-December.  Passage  of this bill by the end of this week is almost certain because without it many  federal operations would close after current short term funding expires this  Friday.

Department  of Energy:

Last  Thursday, the Senate started work on the second minibus which will fund the  Department of Energy in FY 2012.  This  legislation will likely combine the Energy and Water Development, Financial  Services, and State-Foreign Operations appropriations bills.  Following a brief announcement by Senate  Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate voted to limit debate on the  measure by a vote of 81 yes to 14 no votes, setting up its possible passage in  the Senate by the Thanksgiving recess.  The  House passed its version of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill  in mid-July.

The  Senate is scheduled to begin its consideration of this bill later today.  If the Energy and Water Development  Appropriations Bill is combined with the other funding measures it will be  subject to possible amendments on issues such as Yucca Mountain, health care,  abortion, and Iran’s nuclear program. 

Last  week the Office of Management and Budget released a Statement of Administration  Policy on the FY 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.  Regarding the Department of Energy, the  statement   commented:

Clean  Energy Research and Development (R&D). The Administration strongly urges  the Senate to provide $1.95 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy  programs and at least $300 million for the Advanced Research Projects  Agency-Energy, both of which are critical to implementing the Administration's  goals of transforming the Nation's economy to support clean energy jobs and  improving U.S. energy security. These investments will help improve U.S.  competitiveness in advanced manufacturing and in emerging technologies such as  electric vehicles and batteries, biofuels, energy efficient systems for buildings,  solar energy, and offshore wind power.”

Innovation  and R&D. The Administration strongly urges the Senate to provide $4.95  billion for the Office of Science to maintain its critical investment in  America's innovation future. Inadequate funding places fundamental research at  risk in areas of science that underpin clean energy technologies and can spur  innovation. Inadequate funding levels will not allow optimum utilization of DOE  research assets, hampering the development of the next generation of technologies  and manufacturing for use in the automobile, semiconductor, pharmaceutical, and  numerous other industries.”

National  Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)       Weapons  Activities and Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. The Administration urges the  Senate to support robust funding for NNSA to continue the commitment to  modernize the nuclear weapons complex and upgrade the stockpile set forth in  the Nuclear Posture Review and reaffirmed as part of the New Strategic Arms  Reduction Treaty ratification process. In addition, at a time when a grave  danger is posed by the proliferation of nuclear materials that can fall into  the hands of terrorist organizations, the Administration appreciates Senate  support for highly enriched uranium (HEU) reactor conversions and increased  security for HEU and plutonium as high-priority elements of the global effort  to lock down nuclear materials.”

Previous  issues of FYI have reviewed the Senate Appropriations Committee report for the  Office of Science and the National Nuclear  Security Administration.