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Research Funding

Lawmakers slash US science funding

Many federal agencies, except the DOE, brace for cuts until Oct. 1

by Britt E. Erickson
March 7, 2024


More than 5 months into fiscal 2024, US lawmakers have reached an agreement that would fund about half the federal government through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. Under the spending bills, released March 3, several science-related agencies face steep budget cuts.

Hardest hit are the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Under the agreement, the EPA’s budget for the fiscal year would shrink to $9.2 billion, a roughly 10% decrease from fiscal 2023.

Science funding may take a hit

US science and technology agencies, except the Department of Energy, face cuts for the rest of fiscal 2024 under bills released March 3.

A bar graph showing percent change in budget for some federal agencies from fiscal 2023 to 2024.
Source: H.R. 4366, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024.

Note: The US government's 2024 fiscal year runs from Oct. 1, 2023, through Sept. 30, 2024.

a Includes the Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Economic Research Service, and National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Lawmakers softened the blow slightly for the EPA’s science and technology programs by transferring $30 million to those areas from the Superfund hazardous waste account. The legislation also orders the EPA to brief Congress in the next few months on a spending plan for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) remediation, a court order to allow the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos, and ethylene oxide air emissions.

The NSF is slated to get $9.1 billion, and NIST, $1.2 billion, a decrease of about 8% each. Funding for agricultural research supported by the US Department of Agriculture would remain essentially flat at $3.8 billion.

Energy-related research is the only bright spot in the 2024 budget. The US Department of Energy’s Office of Science would get $8.2 billion, an increase of about 2%. Much of the increase would fund isotope R&D and production, and a small amount would go to fusion energy.


The cuts are part of a deal made last year between then–House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden to raise the US debt limit in exchange for limiting spending for fiscal 2024 and 2025.

The House cleared the bills with little debate March 6, and the Senate is poised to follow suit by March 8 to avoid having to pass a stopgap funding extension. Agencies have been operating since Oct. 1 under a series of continuing resolutions that fund the government at fiscal 2023 levels. The latest continuing resolution expires March 8 for about half the agencies.

Funding for the other half expires March 22. The National Institutes of Health is part of that second group, so biomedical researchers will have to wait a bit longer to learn the fate of that funding.

Once lawmakers finalize funding for all federal agencies for the remainder of fiscal 2024, they will have to quickly turn their attention to the next round of funding bills. Biden is slated to release his proposed budget for fiscal 2025 on March 11.


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