From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff
On Monday, February 10, the White House released the president’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2021, A Budget for America’s Future. The proposal aims to reduce spending and “reflects restraint in non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending, which the Budget proposes to keep five percent below 2020 NDD spending levels, and reduce spending in future years.”
Why It Matters
Strong funding for federal agencies that conduct and support scientific research and education is vital to ensuring our national security, promoting economic development, and assuring our preparedness for ocean-related threats. The release of the president’s budget request is the first step of the federal budget process, and it is now up to Congress to determine spending levels for the coming fiscal year.
The budget request includes $7.9 billion for the Department of Commerce, a 48 percent decrease from what was enacted in FY 2020. This includes $188 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s efforts to map and explore our nation’s exclusive economic zone, which supports a recent presidential memo. It also includes $1.2 billion to maintain satellites for weather prediction (including damaging solar events). As in previous years, the budget proposes elimination of “lower priority NOAA programs,” such as Sea Grant, Coastal Zone Management Grants, Education Grants, and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund — programs Congress has consistently funded. Additional documentation has not yet been released, although supplementary appendices show the agency would receive $4.6 billion, a 14 percent cut compared to FY 2020 enacted levels, including only $353 million to the Office of Atmospheric and Oceanic Research, a 40 percent decrease over FY 2020 enacted levels.
The National Science Foundation would see $7.7 billion, a six percent decrease over FY 2020 enacted levels. The agency highlights the importance of federal investment in basic research; the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce; and research infrastructure. The proposal includes $5 billion for basic research and $16 million for the Coastlines and People (CoPe) initiative. Additional research priorities include creating public-private partnerships and expanding the reach of agency funding.
The $25.2 billion request for NASA reflects a 12 percent increase over 2020 enacted levels, with robust funding for programs that would help return astronauts to the moon by 2024 and build a “sustainable presence” there as a first step to reaching Mars. The proposal “redirects funds from lower priority science and education programs to higher priorities” — this includes eliminating two Earth science missions as well as the Office of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Engagement (formerly the Office of Education). The Science Mission Directorate would see $6.3 billion—a 12 percent cut from FY 2020 enacted levels, while Earth Science would receive $1.7 billion, a 10 percent decrease over FY 2020 levels.
The budget requests $705.4 billion for the Department of Defense. This includes “over $14 billion in DOD science and technology programs that support key investments in industries of the future.” Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation activities would receive nearly $108 billion.
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