On September 13, the Senate Appropriations Committee
drafted an FY 2001 VA-HUD appropriations bill that would provide mostly
level funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA
budget would fall slightly by 0.4 percent or $29 million to $7.5 billion,
but this appropriation would be above EPA's requested cut to $7.3 billion
and the House appropriation of $7.1 billion. EPA's R&D would
be funded at almost the same level as FY 2000 for a total of $640 million,
$7 million or 1.1 percent less than FY 2000 (see Table).
The House would offer a slight increase.
The Senate FY 2001 VA-HUD bill would provide $80 billion for discretionary programs, an increase over the $72 billion FY 2000 total and over the $76 billion House bill total. The bill funds science agencies including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and EPA, and non-R&D programs for veterans and housing. The President requested a far higher $85 billion for the bill's programs, including substantial increases for NSF and a smaller one for NASA, but because Congress chose to allocate only $605 billion for total discretionary spending compared to the President's $622 billion, Congress has far less money than the President to allocate for domestic programs such as the ones in the VA-HUD bill. As a result, most science programs fall short of the requested funding levels in the Senate and especially the House bills. The Senate VA-HUD bill has more money than the House version because the Senate was able to divert $4 billion from its Transportation bill to edge its total closer to the request.
While the President requested increases for most agencies funded in the VA-HUD bill, EPA was an exception. EPA requested $7.3 billion for its total budget, a decline from $7.6 billion in FY 2000 because of a requested cut in State and Tribal Assistance Grants from $3.4 billion to $3.2 billion. The Senate would keep total EPA funding close to the FY 2000 level. The $7.5 billion Senate appropriation is $29 million less than FY 2000, but $258 million more than the request.
EPA's R&D, mostly funded in the Science
and Technology account, would total $640 million, nearly the same
as FY 2000 for a $7 million or 1.1 percent cut. The House would provide
$649 million. The Senate bill would be $33 million below the request,
however, because the Senate would fund programs for which EPA had requested
increases at FY 2000 levels. Within the total appropriation, the Senate
would add 17 congressionally designated research projects and would
trim the request for transportation-related research in the Climate
Change Technology Initiative to offset these new projects.
The Senate would mostly stick to the EPA's priorities for FY 2001, except for a boost in funding for State and Tribal Assistance Grants. Although EPA requested a cut in this program from $3.4 billion to $2.9 billion, the Senate would provide $3.3 billion. Most of this money goes to state and local governments, and is perennially more popular with Congress than EPA. For Environmental Programs and Management, which funds most of EPA's operating expenses, the Senate bill would provide $2.0 billion, 5.5 percent more than FY 2000 but $99 million less than the request. The Senate would subtract $98 million from the request for programs in the Climate Change Technology Initiative. Combined with CCTI programs in the S&T account, total CCTI funding would total $101 million in the Senate, down from $103 million in FY 2000 and less than half the $227 million request. The Superfund program would stay even at the $1.4 billion FY 2000 funding level. Superfund would continue to fund $38 million (same as FY 2000) in research on hazardous substances.
Both the House and Senate bills contain a legislative provision, carried over from previous years' bills, that would prohibit EPA from implementing actions called for under the U.N. Kyoto Protocol, which has not been submitted to nor ratified by the Senate. Otherwise, both bills are free of legislative language that could curtail EPA's activities.
The House VA-HUD bill was approved by the full House on June 21 after long, contentious debates between Democrats and Republicans. Most proposed Democratic amendments to boost funding levels failed. The bill's sharp cuts to the President's request have drawn a veto threat. The Senate version was not drafted until September because appropriators had hoped that more money would become available if they waited. In September, an extra $4 billion was diverted from the Transportation bill, and the bill was quickly drafted. The bill has not reached the Senate floor yet, but could see quick action this week. If the bill passes the Senate, the bill will quickly go to conference, and Congress will rush to produce a final version before the October 1 start of FY 2001. Even the Senate version of the bill faces trouble, however, because its funding levels still fall short of the President's request. Because of the unusually strong leverage the President has in this election year, it is likely that final funding levels for VA-HUD bill programs will be far higher than both the House and Senate-proposed levels before the appropriations process is over, which may not happen until well into October. It is unclear how EPA will fare in final budget negotiations, but the totals are likely to be closer to Senate levels than House levels.
- September 20, 2000
AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program
1200 New York Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 326-6607; -6600