AAAS R&D Funding Update May 18, 2007 -
2008 Appropriations Begin With More Money
for R&D and Other Programs
Detailed agency updates:
This analysis updates recent developments in the congressional FY 2008 appropriations process.
FY 2008 Appropriations Begin This Week: $21 Billion More than the Request
On May 17, the Democratic-majority Congress gave final approval to an FY 2008 budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 21), a move that allows the Appropriations Committees to begin work on the FY 2008 appropriations bills. Appropriations kick off May 18 in the House with the initial markup of the Homeland Security appropriations bill. The budget resolution is an annual congressional document that represents the congressional response to the President’s February budget request, and provides a big-picture budget framework for all later congressional budget decisions. The budget contains broad spending and revenue targets broken down into smaller budget targets for various committees; its importance is in the overall guidance it gives to the fragmented congressional process, and it remains the only time Congress gets to consider the entire $3 trillion federal budget as a whole. For the federal R&D investment, nearly all of which is allocated through appropriations for discretionary spending, the budget resolution sets a total amount for all discretionary appropriations; working from that total, the Appropriations Committees spend the rest of the year dividing up that total among the 12 annual appropriations bills, and further dividing those totals into program-by-program funding levels for federal R&D and other discretionary programs.
Armed with a completed budget resolution, in contrast to last year when Congress was unable to agree on one, congressional appropriators can move immediately to kick off the FY 2008 appropriations, starting in the House. The Homeland Security subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee drafts the first FY 2008 appropriations bill today (May 18), to give the first congressional indications of program-by-program FY 2008 funding levels for federal programs. Next week, the full House Appropriations Committee will ratify its “302(b) allocations,” that is the $954 billion total apportioned among the 12 appropriations bills. The 302(b) allocations will provide additional indications on how R&D programs could fare in the appropriations process. From then, the appropriations process could move relatively quickly, especially in the House, working toward the goal of getting all 12 bills through the House by July and the final versions of all the bills to the President by October 1.
The Senate has traditionally needed more time for appropriations because Senate rules allow for long debate and numerous amendments on any bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee hopes to follow just a few weeks behind its House counterpart, but the real challenge will be scheduling enough floor time for the full Senate to debate and approve its versions of the 12 bills.
The real test, however, could come from the President. Although President Bush has never vetoed a regular appropriations bill, this is the first year he has faced a Democratic Congress. Already, the Bush Administration has threatened to veto FY 2008 appropriations bills if they exceed his request for discretionary spending. Collectively, of course, the bills could exceed his request by $21 billion so there is a real chance that he will veto the bill that causes appropriations to exceed his $933 billion request, but the veto threat is vague enough that Administration officials have left open the possibility that he may veto any or even all of the appropriations bills.
R&D in FY 2008 Appropriations Bills: R&D in 10 of 12 Bills
The FY 2008 federal R&D portfolio would be divided among 10 of the 12 separate appropriations bills (see Table I-8). Four appropriations bills would fund 95 percent of all federal R&D, and the major R&D funding agencies of DOD, NIH, NASA, and DOE would be funded in separate bills. Table I-8 shows the distribution of the federal R&D portfolio among the appropriations subcommittees; each subcommittee produces its appropriations bill separately from the others, and each bill is usually signed into law separately, although in recent years several bills have had to be bundled into a single omnibus appropriations bill at the end of the congressional session. The FY 2007 joint funding resolution, for example, functioned like an omnibus bill containing 9 of the then-11 appropriations bills (a new Financial Services bill has been carved out for the FY 2008 process, bringing the new total to 12).
The division of the budget into 12 appropriations bills limits the extent to which it is possible to coordinate or trade off increases and decreases in agency R&D budgets in the congressional process. For example, three R&D agencies—NSF, NASA, and the Department of Commerce—come under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science. NIH appropriations continue to reside in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education subcommittee. This means, for example, that NASA does not compete with NIH for funds, although NASA does compete with NSF. But this system does mean that R&D programs compete with non-R&D programs in the same appropriations bill for limited funds. In the FY 2008 process, NIH will compete for funds against non-R&D programs in the Education and Labor departments, as well as other health programs in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Budget Functions: More for NSF, NASA, DOE, and NIH Possible
Although the budget resolution does not contain program-by-program funding levels, it does contain ‘budget function’ totals that serve as guides for appropriators and expressions of congressional priorities. The budget divides the $954 billion total for all discretionary spending by budget functions, or national missions, giving a preliminary indication of how Congress would like to allocate the additional $21 billion it has given appropriators. Below is a short summary of selected budget functions and the potential impacts of the new budget resolution (the parentheses refer to function numbers). Table I-4 shows the federal R&D portfolio by national mission or budget function (AAAS splits function 250 into the subfunctions of general science and space).
Defense (050) – The congressional allocation of $503.8 billion for defense matches the President’s request, but Congress is likely to shift money around. Every year, Congress has added billions of dollars to DOD R&D on top of the request, primarily through the addition of performer-specific earmarks. The pattern will hold in FY 2008, so the Pentagon’s requested 20 percent cut in DOD’s “S&T” programs (basic and applied research plus early technology development) will most likely become flat funding or a slight increase.
General Science, Space and Technology (250) – This function covers NSF, DOE Office of Science, and NASA funding. The budget assumes $27.5 billion in appropriations for these programs, more than the $27.3 billion request and therefore more than enough to provide the full ACI increases for NSF and the DOE Office of Science, with enough to fund NASA spacecraft development but also NASA’s support of research.
Energy (270) – This function covers DOE’s energy programs. The $4.8 billion allocation is above the $4.3 billion request, indicating that Congress would like to add significantly to DOE’s requested FY 2008 cuts in energy R&D, from an FY 2007 total already boosted by this 110th Congress.
Health (550) – This function covers discretionary health programs in HHS, more than half of which goes to NIH. The $55.0 billion allocation is $3 billion more than the request, which gives appropriators ample room to turn a requested cut in NIH funding into an increase.
FY 2007 Supplemental: More for Defense R&D This Year
this month, President Bush used only his second veto of his presidency on the
$124 billion FY 2007 supplemental bill, primarily to fund the ongoing wars in