The One Hundred-Fourteenth United States Congress is the current meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It is scheduled to meet in Washington, D.C. from now until January 3, 2017, during the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency. The federal budget process occurs in two stages: appropriations and authorizations. This is an appropriations bill, which sets overall spending limits by agency or program. (Authorizations direct how federal funds should or should not be used.) Appropriations are typically made for single fiscal years (October 1 through September 30 of the next year).
The President’s Executive Office of Management and Budget released an analysis of S. 2837, read their views here.
Congress returns to work next week for a “lame duck” session to finalize the fiscal year 2017 federal budget. The S.2837 Appropriations bill funds NASA, NSF, and NOAA and includes many additional subtopics- here we have highlighted the relevant science and technology funding:
The S.2837: FISCAL YEAR 2017 COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE APPROPRIATIONS BILL increases funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation*, while funding the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the FY2016 level.
*The bill would increase funding for NSF by $46 million, but all of the new funding is designated for the acquisition of three ocean research vessels. Research and education funding at NSF would remain at the 2016 enacted level.
Science National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
$19.3 billion for NASA, $21 million over the FY2016 enacted level and $1 billion above the FY2017 NASA budget request, to support the human and robotic exploration of space, fund science missions that enhance the understanding of the Earth, the solar system, the universe, and support fundamental aeronautics research.
- $2.15 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS), which is $150 million above the FY2016 enacted level and $920 million above the request. The SLS is the nation’s launch vehicle that will enable humans to explore space beyond current capabilities. The funding maintains the current schedule for the first launch of SLS, and provides $300 million in critical funding for upper stage engine work for future crewed missions in 2021 and beyond.
- $1.3 billion for the Orion crewed spacecraft, $30 million above the FY2016 enacted level and $247 million above the request, to enable a crewed launch in 2021. Orion is the NASA-crewed vehicle being designed to take astronauts to destinations farther than ever before, including Mars.
- $5.4 billion for Science, $194 million below the FY2016 enacted level and $92.5 million above the request. This funding encompasses missions from the Earth to the Moon, throughout the solar system, and the far reaches of the universe.
- $1.18 billion, the same as the request, to further develop a domestic crew launch capability. Once developed and fully tested, these vehicles will help end the United States’ reliance on Russia for transporting American astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
- $687 million for Space Technology, the same as the FY2016 enacted level and $4.1 million below the request. Funding is included to advance projects that are early in development that will eventually demonstrate capabilities needed for future space exploration.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
$7.5 billion for NSF, maintaining the FY2016 enacted level. Funding is provided for basic research across all scientific disciplines to support the development of effective Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] programs and to grow the next generation of scientists.
- $159 million is provided for the design and construction of three Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRV) instead of the two RCRV proposed by NSF. By having three regional ships, the Gulf of Mexico and the East and West coasts will be able to have their own dedicated RCRV to maximize research time in each region.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
$5.7 billion for NOAA, a $33.5 million increase above the FY2016 enacted level for core NOAA operations including: ocean monitoring; fisheries management; coastal grants to states; aquaculture research; and severe weather forecasting. The bill provides full funding for NOAA’s flagship weather satellites, which are critical for accurate weather warnings to save lives and protect property. Funding for NOAA continues to target new areas of investment for fisheries management, including the testing and implementation of new technologies and management schemes to expand opportunities for American commercial and recreational fishermen.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
$3.2 billion for USPTO to continue protecting ideas and advancing innovation by our nation’s inventors and entrepreneurs.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
$974 million for NIST, $10 million above the FY2016 enacted level, to strengthen the U.S. cybersecurity posture through cutting edge research and development, expand opportunities in the areas of advanced manufacturing, and continue promotion of the highest-quality standards to maintain fairness in the marketplace. Funding for NIST includes $25 million for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), which supports private sector efforts in advanced manufacturing by establishing industry-driven institutes through open competition.