Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed their Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill by a margin of 30-1.
The Senate bill, which passed out of the Energy and Water subcommittee earlier in the week, clocks in at $629 million above the FY 2017 enacted level and a staggering $4.1 billion above President Trump’s request. The $38.4 billion bill, which prioritizes energy security and nuclear capabilities, funds Department of Energy (DOE) programs (including energy development and research) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) infrastructure projects.
There was more bipartisan agreement surrounding this bill than its $37.6 billion counterpart in the House. Subcommittee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (CA) was “pleased to see the bill preserves important investments in scientific research,” and committee Chairman Thad Cochran (MS) was “especially pleased this bill recognizes the importance of the [Corps] and federally supported research.” However, funding for non-defense activities would be cut by $415 million, while defense activities would see a billion-dollar increase. The minority statement called this a demonstration of “the fundamental imbalance in the current approach to funding the nation’s infrastructure, scientific research and technology development priorities.” Several Democrats spoke to the need for a bipartisan budget agreement to better balance the bill and restore funding to areas that saw cuts.
DOE’s Office of Science would see its highest funding level ever in a regular appropriations bill – $5.55 billion for basic science and energy research, an increase of $158 million from last year’s enacted level. Conversely, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s $1.937 billion is $153 million below the FY 2017 level. An amendment proposed by Ranking Member Feinstein, which would have added more money to research programs within the Corps and the DOE, was narrowly rejected 15-16.
The Corps would receive $6.2 billion, $190 million more compared to FY 2017 and $1.225 billion above the president’s request, although the minority statement maintains “a significant backlog of funding needs remains.” An additional $700 million above Trump’s request would be provided to the Corps for items including shore protection, flood storm damage reduction, and aquatic ecosystem restoration.
Unlike the House version of the bill, there is no rider barring funds from the National Ocean Policy. While the Senate bill has not yet been scheduled for time on the floor, the House bill (H.R. 3266) is expected to reach the floor this week as part of a “minibus” of four security-related bills, which also includes the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.R. 3219).
Find funding charts here.