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Congress Moves On Budget

Appropriations: First 2012 spending package contains funding for key science agencies

by Susan R. Morrissey
November 21, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 47

Update: After C&EN went to press on Nov. 17, the House of Representatives and the Senate cleared the minibus (H. Rept. 112-284) and sent it to the President to sign into law.

At nearly two months into the federal government’s 2012 fiscal year, Congress is just now expected to clear its first appropriations measure. The package, known as a minibus, combines three appropriations bills and includes funding for several key science agencies.

Credit: U.S. Congress
House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky)
Credit: U.S. Congress

The package on the table now “represents significant progress in the budgetary work of Congress, and will put us one step ahead as we strive towards swift completion of all fiscal-year 2012 appropriations bills,” House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold (Hal) D. Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement.

The final bill (H. Rept. 112-284) was set to clear Congress at C&EN’s press time on Nov. 17. It includes 2012 budgets for NSF, NASA, NIST, NOAA, and FDA. Under the measure, NSF will be funded at $7.0 billion, up 2.5% from 2011 levels. The $751 million budget set for NIST will include $33 million, a 6.5% increase, over 2011 funding for its core scientific research programs. NOAA’s budget will grow by 6.7% to $4.9 billion, but will not include funding for the proposed NOAA Climate Service.

FDA’s 2012 budget of $2.5 billion will include support for the agency to carry out a new food safety law. NASA will see its budget cut by 3.5% to a total of $17.8 billion. The NASA budget will provide continued funding for the James Webb Space Telescope, which House appropriators had zeroed out during their work on the 2012 budget.

The report accompanying the minibus includes language that bars NASA and the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy from engaging in bilateral activities with China without congressional approval.

In addition to setting 2012 budgets for selected agencies, the legislation includes a stopgap measure that will keep the government running until Dec. 16. The previous short-term funding measure expired on Nov. 18. The continuation will give Congress more time to finish its work on the last nine appropriations bills, which are now expected to be rolled into a single omnibus spending bill.

The minibus, Rogers said, represents a fiscally responsible bipartisan compromise that will prevent a potential government shutdown.



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