News: News Archives
Legislators Will Debate Appropriations Legislation
that Determines Funding of Research and Development
When Congress returns from the Memorial Day recess, legislators in the Appropriations Committees of both houses will again take up the debate over how to divide discretionary funds among the 13 appropriations bills that fund federal agencies.
"Despite the fact that the Republicans control both houses of Congress as well as the White House, the stage appears to be set for another difficult, drawn-out budget process," according to Al Teich, director of AAAS's Directorate for Science and Policy Programs. "Investment in R&D faces tough sledding in the coming months. It's competing for funds within the discretionary part of the federal budget, and will be squeezed by the costs of the war in Iraq and other military spending, the tax cut, and the decline in federal revenues due to the weak economy."
Congress has approved a budget resolution setting broad spending and revenue targets for FY 2004, and is currently trying to come to a final agreement on a tax-cut package. The House voted for a bill on 22 May that would reduce income and corporate taxes by $350 billion or more over the next decade. The Senate approved similar legislation on 23 May.
The budget resolution sets a target of $785 billion for FY 2004 discretionary appropriations (out of which nearly all federal R&D is funded), essentially the same level as the President's request (see below for more on the request).
Congress has been conducting appropriations hearings on the FY 2004 budget since the release of President Bush's proposed budget for FY 2004 in February, but the Appropriations Committees in the House and the Senate have not been able to determine their 302(b) allocations, which divide the $784.5 billion total among the 13 bills. Ten of those bills concern federal agencies with major budgets for R&D.
Neither chamber's Appropriations Committee has approved its 302(b) allocations, so Congress will not begin drafting the FY 2004 appropriations bills until June. The difficulty arises from the congressional budget resolution, which promised more money than the request for key programs would provide (including NSF and DOE's Office of Science), necessitating offsetting savings from other programs. The 13 bills are different from previous years; there is a new Homeland Security appropriations bill which will fund programs in the new Department of Homeland Security's (DHS). The former Transportation and Treasury/Postal bills will be combined into a single Transportation/Treasury bill.
For information on R&D in President Bush's proposal, see AAAS Report XXVIII: R&D FY 2004 and other analyses on the FY 2004 R&D page. As the FY 2004 appropriations bills are drafted, AAAS will post comprehensive R&D Funding Updates at each stage of the process. These analyses will appear on the FY 2004 R&D page.
23 May 2003