Science Funding Through April 28, 2017: Uncertainty and Special Spending Authority

Federal science agencies in general will be barred from starting new programs or stopping old ones and from implementing funding increases submitted in the president’s fiscal year 2017 budget request. Unless Congress passes the fiscal year 2017 appropriations bills, funding changes and program guidance included in the House and Senate versions of the bills will not carry their full weight either.

For programs facing the prospect of funding cuts in this year’s appropriations proposals, such as the NASA Science Mission Directorate or Defense Department’s basic research account, the uncertainty of the CR poses added challenges.

The same holds true for agencies and programs slated to receive funding boosts. In the House Labor-HHS appropriations bill, NIH would receive a $2 billion funding increase, but that increase, and those proposed for any science agency or program, will require appropriations legislation.

The CR does include special spending authority, in three areas of importance to science: NIH research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellites, and NASA space exploration.

The bill also permits NOAA to increase its rate of spending on its Joint Polar Satellite System in order to keep the first of the nation’s next-generation polar satellites on schedule for launch. And it permits NASA to increase its spending rate on the Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System, to ensure the space agency does not fall behind in the development of next-generation space exploration capabilities.

The bill includes $352 million in spending for the NIH above and beyond its FY 2016 appropriation, as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.


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