Congress came back from recess ready to work, with House appropriators moving several spending bills out of committee last week, including the Commerce, Justice Science (CJS) bill that funds NSF, NOAA, and NASA. For months, we have been working hard to help remind congressional leaders of the importance of ocean science and to ensure it is funded sufficiently. This includes direct engagement across a wide spectrum of opportunities, including outside witness testimony and a letter supporting NSF’s ocean science vessels – specifically the Regional Class Research Vessels and marine seismology infrastructure. While the House CJS bill reduces funding for NOAA and NSF relative to last fiscal year (NOAA by 12.5 percent; details in the story below), appropriations for both agencies are significantly higher than the president’s budget request, and key programs that were on the chopping block, such as Sea Grant and the National Estuarine Research Reserves, are maintained. We continue our efforts to advocate and educate throughout the long appropriations process; the Senate has yet to introduce their CJS bill, and the House one has not been scheduled for time on the floor.
I encourage everyone to continue to weigh in on specific issues of interest to the ocean community. One place to do so is in the House Interior appropriations bill that is heading to a full committee markup tomorrow. Unfortunately, it includes a rider prohibiting implementation of the National Ocean Policy, which is designed to improve coordination between federal, state, and local stakeholders to better manage our ocean. If your Representative serves on the appropriations committee, you can call and ask him/her to oppose this harmful language.
RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.)
President and CEO
Consortium for Ocean Leadership