July 2, 2013
The Senate and House appropriations subcommittees on Energy & Water recently held markups for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) appropriations. Due to a significant difference between the Senate and House versions ideological divides must be bridged before the two versions of the bill can be conferenced. Moreover, the support for the Department of Energy (DoE) that both the House and Senate have traditionally had may be entirely overshadowed by larger political budget battles. In short, while it is encouraging to see actual numbers coming out of committees, it is entirely possible that FY14 will be another year under a continuing resolution instead of actual appropriations bills being passed. To the science community, this could mean another year of furloughs and reduced operational time at national labs.
Even if there are no appropriations bills signed into law this year and only another continuing resolution, there still will be significant political pressure on DoE. This political pressure from lawmakers can quickly erode any support for increased funding to an agency. Recently, the Senate and House subcommittees on Energy & Water have questioned DoE’s direction in recent years, especially in the area of prioritizing projects. Such concern is now making its way into appropriation bills. The Senate bill establishes an independent commission to analyze whether the DoE’s national labs are appropriately configured to meet the nation’s 21st century energy needs.
|Request in Billions of Dollars|
|Advanced Scientific Computing Research||0.493||0.432||0.465|
|Basic Energy Sciences||1.805||1.583||1.862|
|Biological and Environmental Research||0.625||0.494||0.625|
|Fusion Energy Sciences||0.458||0.506||0.458|
|High Energy Physics||0.806||0.772||0.776|
Overall, the Senate bill would provide $5.15B for the Office of Science (SC) FY14, an increase of $287M over FY13 enacted levels, and an increase of about $580M over the FY13 actual spending, which includes the sequester. The House bill would provide $4.653B for SC in FY14, a decrease of about $223M below FY13 enacted levels and an increase of about $300M over the FY13 actual spending level. The table on the right details the proposed spending for the sub-accounts within DoE SC.
The House and Senate both use the FY14 appropriations to highlight their priorities. For instance, in the Fusion Energy Sciences account, the Senate provides no funding for Alcator C-Mod and commends the DoE for prioritizing funding. Conversely, the House provides funding and directs Alcator C-Mod to continue operations.
The Senate also makes note to specifically provide $183M for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) but none of the proposed funding will be made available until DoE delivers a full report on the baseline cost, schedule, and scope estimate of ITER. The House would provide $217M for ITER funding without such restrictions, however it directs DoE to provide the funding profile within 180 days. Both the Senate and House have been asking DoE for a full report on ITER since the project began.
Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (APRA-E), Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in the Senate would all see increases over the FY13 enacted levels and, again, significant increases over the FY13 sequestered level. ARPA-E is slated for $379M, an increase of $114M over FY13 enacted levels and about $120M over FY13 actual spending. EERE is slated for $2.28B, an increase of $470M over FY13 enacted levels and about $570M over FY13 actual spending. NNSA is proposed to be funded at $11.76B, an increase of $261M over FY13 enacted levels and about $930M over FY13 actual spending.
Just the opposite is the case in the House. APRA-E, EERE, and NNSA would all see decreases over the FY13 enacted levels and only the NNSA would receive an increase over the FY13 sequestered level. ARPA-E is slated for $50M, a decrease of $225M under FY13 enacted levels and about $208M under FY13 actual spending. EERE is slated for $982M, a decrease of $900M under FY13 enacted levels and about $890M under FY13 actual spending. NNSA is proposed to be funded at $11.26B, a decrease of $24M under FY13 enacted levels and an increase of about $44 over FY13 actual spending.
Policy news and viewpoints for the physics community. The analysis and opinions are those of the APS Office of Public Affairs and do not necessarily represent the entire Society.