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June 25, 2014
Congress received President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 (FY15) budget request on March 4 and has been making steady progress on appropriations bills. Appropriations bills concerning science agencies, defense, energy and health are in various stages of completion from being in subcommittee to having been voted on and passed on the floor. Bills in subcommittee are still open to change as they move forward to full committee. None have been passed by both the full House and Senate yet.
The House has passed increases for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and NASA to $7.4B (+$230M), $0.85B (+$6M), and $17.9B (+$300M), respectively. The Senate full committee has passed increases for NSF and NIST to $7.25B (+$80M) and $0.9B (+$40M) respectively, but a $17.46B (-$240M) reduction for NASA.
For energy, the Senate subcommittee passed $5.08B (+$20M) for Department of Energy Office of Science whereas the House full committee passed flat funding, at $5.06B. Only the House has moved on Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations, passing spending decreases to both DOD basic and applied research at to $2.02B (-$140M) and $4.53B (-$120M) respectively. Both the Senate and House have agreed to $5.55M in funding for the Office and Science and Technology of the President.
Overall, the numbers mean that spending for science agencies, even those with proposed increases, is unlikely to even keep pace with inflation. Grant success rates will remain stagnant at historic lows and will certainly decrease within programs slated for cuts. Looking beyond FY15, there is no budget deal in place for FY16, and too much uncertainty to make predictions on future spending levels at this point. With that in mind, however, now is a perfect time to reach out to your representatives and senators to remind them of the importance of funding scientific research. If you’d like to contact Congress, APS provides easy to use tools at: http://www.congressweb.com/APSPA