On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed the $53.4 billion Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2018 (S.1662) bill in a 30-1 vote. “The committee has made difficult but responsible decisions to produce a bill that strikes a financial balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” declared Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Richard Shelby (AL). In the Senate bill, the National Science Foundation (NSF) would be funded at $7.31 billion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at $5.59 billion, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at $19.5 billion, representing cuts from FY 2017 of 2.2 percent, 1.5 percent, and 0.6 percent, respectively. The total reductions in the bill amount to $3.2 billion below the FY 2017 enacted level, but overall funding remains $4.4 billion above the president’s budget request.
The nation’s water infrastructure is in a truly dire state; with a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, it is time for an update. Last week, the House and Senate held hearings to address this issue. The House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment focused on the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Chairman Garret Graves (LA-6) said the Corps has an “absolutely critical mission,” which centers around building and maintaining infrastructure that bolsters the economy while integrating environmental sustainability. However, both sides of the aisle were concerned with the Corps’ backlog of unfinished projects and lack of implementation guidance for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (P.L.113-121) and the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations committee approved the Interior and Environment appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 in a 30-21 vote. This budget represents an $824 million decrease from the FY 2017 enacted level, which Subcommittee Ranking Member Betty McCollum (MN-4) said she was “deeply disappointed” about, although the president’s budget request would have provided $4.3 billion less. The bill’s $31.4 billion includes $114.2 million for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (matching the president’s request), $108.5 million for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (a more than 30 percent increase from FY 2017), and $1.039 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey ($46 million less than the FY 2017 level).
Focus on Justice, Not Climate Science, In House Commerce, Justice, and Science Bill — Which Drastically Cuts NOAA Funding
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed their version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which includes funding proposals for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). During the full committee markup of the bill, which covers a vast array of other agencies and largely prioritizes law enforcement issues like terrorism, cybersecurity, espionage, the opioid epidemic, and border security, both subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (TX-7) and Ranking Member José Serrano (NY-15) expressed their appreciation for each other’s collaboration and friendship during the drafting of the bill, despite their dissimilar policy stances.
House Appropriators Advance Interior and Energy-Water Appropriations Bills – With National Ocean Policy Riders
President Obama’s 2010 Executive Order 13547, Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes, commonly referred to as the National Ocean Policy (NOP), is designed to protect, maintain, and restore the health of ecosystems and resources of the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes; to enhance the sustainability of ocean and coastal economies; to preserve maritime heritage; to support sustainable uses and access; and to coordinate with our national security and foreign policy interests. Since its inception, it has been a controversial topic, with Democrats lauding its science-based decision making, benefits to stakeholders, economic growth, and sustainable development and Republicans considering it as executive overreach and a vehicle for new regulations.
Earth Science Given “Low Priority” Status In House Appropriations Bill That Would Also Reduce NOAA Funding?
While President Trump proposed some of the most dramatic budget cuts in recent history, Congress ultimately has the responsibility of appropriating funds. Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science marked up their Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 bill, which funds the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), [...]
On Thursday evening, in the packed foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building, people lined up to try on 3D outer space goggles, explore cutting-edge stream water models, and meet the brilliant scientific minds who worked on these projects.
Imagine a trip to the Chesapeake Bay without feasting on their iconic oysters. In recent years, wild oyster populations have been devastated by factors both manmade and natural. Although wild-caught oysters face restoration issues, aquaculture (which is essentially seafood farming) is a growing industry providing shellfish to the market. After success in the Chesapeake region, entrepreneurs around the country have jumped on board over the past three decades to begin their own aquaculture businesses raising oysters, fish, and even seaweed.
The Department of Energy told its program offices yesterday that it would honor "all" funding commitments for "previously obligated" grants and cooperative agreements. The announcement — sent via memo to DOE officials — comes amid high anxiety about the future of DOE research programs.
(Click to enlarge) Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX) and Lamar Smith (R–TX) (Credit: House Committee on Science, Space & Technology) A “sparring session,” “train wreck,” and “food fight” are not words normally used to describe activities in the halls of Congress, but they were last week. During a contentious, partisan hearing that drew [...]
(Click to enlarge) Logo of the Environmental Protection Agency (Credit: EPA) Following in the wake of a sweeping executive order from President Trump that includes removing climate change impact considerations from federal decision-making, environmental regulations and the science that underpins them faced challenges in Congress last week. One such trial came in the [...]
While the budget, health care, and Supreme Court hearings dominated the news this month, members of Congress were also busy introducing bills and passing the first science-related acts of the new year.