House Passes FY 2014 Energy & Water Bill Over Veto Threat

The House of Representatives Wednesday passed its FY 2014 Energy & Water bill, funding the Department of Energy (DOE) and other agencies, with limited modifications to the version passed by the Appropriations Committee, and in spite of President Obama’s veto threat.

Amendments included a $15 million shift from solar energy R&D programs to the Bureau of Reclamation, sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD); a $9.6 million shift from energy efficiency and renewables R&D to environmental cleanup, sponsored by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA); a $20 million shift from fossil energy to the Corps of Engineers, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA); and $20 million boost to the ARPA-E budget, sponsored by Adam Schiff (D-CA). Several other proposed amendments that would have increased funding for clean energy R&D, ARPA-E, and Office of Science failed. The bill passed by a 227-198 party-line vote.

Per current AAAS estimates, the previously-reported contours of the bill remain largely in place, with most low-carbon energy technology R&D programs slated for hefty cuts, moderate cuts at the Office of Science, and National Nuclear Administration R&D programs slated for increases. The Fossil Energy R&D program would receive a somewhat smaller but still large increase of 39 percent above FY 2012 levels. In spite of the ARPA-E increase, the agency’s budget would still be slashed by 75 percent below FY 2012. Overall DOE R&D would amount to $10.3 billion, 6.9 percent below FY 2012 levels, 21.3 percent below the President's request, and about even with sequester levels. It is also 16.2 percent below the current Senate figure of $12.3 billion.

Floor action on the Senate version awaits; the committee passed its bill on June 27. As previously noted, the Senate bill is approximately $4 billion higher than the House version and, as with the other bills in play on the Senate side, violates the $967 billion spending cap established under sequestration, whereas the House versions meet this cap. With prospects for a budget conference still dim, it’s unclear how the two parties intend to rectify these differences.

NOTE: We have recently revised our FY13 estimates based on new DOE reporting.

Table: Congressional Action on DOE R&D
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