On May 4, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees
released discretionary spending allocations that call for modest increases
or cuts in most nondefense programs in fiscal year (FY) 2001. The Senate
committee approved its allocations on May 4; the full House committee
is expected to approve its allocations early next week. The preliminary
appropriations allocations, known as "302(b)" allocations,
set spending totals for the 13 FY 2001 appropriations bills and allow
the committees to begin writing the appropriations bills.
The allocations are based on the FY 2001 congressional
budget resolution, and both the House and the Senate provide $605.2
billion in discretionary budget authority for FY 2001, although they
differ in how the total is distributed among the bills (see attached
Table). Both sets of allocations assume
that $4.7 billion in unspecified offsets will bring the final discretionary
total down to $600 billion, the amount called for in the budget resolution
approved last month. The $605 billion total is $13.6 billion above the
FY 2000 total, an increase of 2.3 percent, but defense spending (which
accounts for half of discretionary spending) would receive the entire
increase and then some, leaving FY 2001 nondefense spending well below
the FY 2000 level. The congressional allocations are $17 billion below
the President's request of $622.2 billion, which would accomodate increases
in both defense and nondefense spending.
The allocated cuts to nondefense spending present appropriators
with difficult choices. Within the declining nondefense total, the Appropriations
Committees managed to give most of the spending bills increased allocations,
but as a result some key appropriations bills containing major R&D
programs face sharp cuts that will make them even more difficult to
draft. Even the bills with increased allocations fall short of the President's
request, so appropriators will likely clash with President Clinton,
who will insist on his proposed nondefense spending increases and will
use his veto power to try to persuade Congress to add more money to
the bills. Because of the President's extraordinary leverage in budget
negotiations, it is likely that these allocations will only be temporary
and will drift upward as the appropriations process goes on, especially
if revised budget projections due in early summer make it clear that
additional spending would not adversely affect the projected FY 2001
At the moment, however, appropriators will have to
begin drafting the appropriations bills under the current 302(b) allocations,
and the initial bills to emerge from committee are likely to contain
some cuts to nondefense R&D prorgams. Below is a short summary of
selected R&D-related appropriations bills.
Agriculture - The Agriculture bill may be the
first of the major R&D bills to reach the House and Senate floors,
as early as next week. The Senate's allocation for the bill is higher
than the FY 2000 level and the President's request, but the House allocation
would require a cut from the FY 2000 level. If the Senate allocation
prevails, there may be room for the modest boost to U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA) R&D contained in the President's request.
Commerce-Justice - Both the House and Senate
allocations are well below the FY 2000 level, because most of the costs
of the 2000 Census are funded as a one-time appropriation in FY 2000.
The allocations are more than $2 billion below the President's request
for FY 2001, however, which could imperil the Administration's 7.0 percent
requested boost for R&D in the Department of Commerce.
Defense - Both the House and Senate allocations
are well above the FY 2000 level, the House by $16 billion and the Senate
by $15 billion. They are also above the President's request of $284
billion, which includes cuts to Department of Defense (DOD) R&D.
Congress is likely to be generous with personnel, procurement, and operations
accounts, and will most likely boost DOD's R&D above the request.
Energy-Water - Both the House and Senate allocations
are above the FY 2000 funding level, though below the President's request.
Because defense programs are a high priority for both the House and
Senate, Department of Energy (DOE) defense R&D will likely do well
in the appropriations bills, but DOE's nondefense R&D programs may
receive only modest increases or even cuts to make room for politically
popular water projects in the Corps of Engineers budget.
Interior - The programs in this bill are perennially
a higher priority for the President than Congress. Although the President's
budget proposal would boost FY 2001 spending for Interior bill programs
to $16.4 billion from $14.8 billion, the House would allocate only $14.7
billion while the Senate would allocate $15.5 billion. Either set of
allocations would make it difficult for Congress to approve the 10 percent
boost to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) budget that the Administration
has requested, and would allow for less than the 7.8 percent increase
requested for R&D in DOE's Energy Conservation program.
Labor-HHS - This bill has been the most difficult
one to pass over the past several years because of clashing Democratic
and Republican priorities over its portfolio of social, educational,
and health programs. The $98.5 billion House allocation is 2.0 percent
above the FY 2000 funding level, but $7.3 billion below the President's
request. The Senate allocation is slightly closer to the President's
request, but still falls nearly $6 billion short. The President is likely
to insist strongly on his proposed increases in the bill, which may
make this bill impossible to pass under either allocation. Within the
smaller allocations, Congress has indicated its intention to increase
the NIH budget by as much as $2.7 billion over FY 2000, in contrast
to the President's proposed $1 billion increase. If Congress follows
through on its intention, then there will be even more pressure on other
domestic programs in the bill and a greater chance that their funding
levels will fall short of the President's request. One or both versions
of the bill could be drafted before Memorial Day, but negotiations with
the President could once again delay final passage of this bill until
the very end of the appropriations process.
VA-HUD - Both the House and Senate allocations
fall short of the FY 2000 funding level, and more than $6 billion short
of the President's request. These frugal allocations for a politically
sensitive bill covering veterans' programs, housing programs, and R&D
programs in the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), may make this bill nearly impossible to write
in a way that can avoid a presidential veto. The tight allocations make
it highly unlikely that Congress will approve the Administration's requested
20 percent increase in NSF R&D and modest increase in NASA R&D,
especially if Congress follows through on its stated intention to increase
funding for veterans programs.
This document will be updated as these allocations
are revised. Further AAAS R&D Funding Updates will provide up-to-date
information on R&D in FY 2001 appropriations.
-May 4, 2000