The House Appropriations Committee has drafted an FY
2002 VA-HUD appropriations bill (HR 2620) that would provide a substantial
budget increase for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA). The House would provide NASA with $15.0 billion in FY 2002,
$698 million or 4.9 percent more than FY 2001. This would be $440 million
more than the Administration's request of $14.5 billion, and more than
the Senate's appropriation of $14.6 billion. In the House plan,
NASA's R&D funding would rise 4.5 percent to $10.4 billion, more
than the $10.0 billion request and Senate appropriation (see Table).
The House FY 2002 VA-HUD bill would provide $85 billion
for discretionary programs, more than the Senate version of the bill
($84 billion) and the request ($83 billion). The bill funds science
agencies including the National Science Foundation
(NSF), NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), and non-R&D programs for veterans and housing. (For information
on Senate appropriations for NASA, please see the July
25 AAAS R&D Funding Update; for details of the FY 2002 request
for NASA, please see Chapter
10 of AAAS
Report XXVI: R&D FY 2002.)
Two-thirds of the NASA budget, which excludes the Space
Shuttle program and its associated costs, is classified as R&D.
NASA's R&D would total $10.4 billion in the House plan, $446
million or 4.5 percent above FY 2001 and well above both the request
and the Senate plan. Because the Space Shuttle program would receive
a large increase, the total NASA budget of $15.0 billion would show
a slightly higher increase (up 4.9 percent).
The troubled International Space Station is
now projected to run $4.8 billion over budget over the next five years.
Earlier, the Senate proposed to cut the Space Station budget by 21.7
percent over FY 2001, for a total of $1.7 billion instead of current-year
funding of $2.1 billion, and the report language accompanying the bill
is harsh in its criticism of NASA management. The House, however, while
expressing its concern over NASA management and cost overruns, would
actually provide more money for the project than NASA requested after
adjusting for a transfer of funds. The International Space Station account
would receive $2.1 billion, down slightly from the request and 1.6 percent
below FY 2001, but the House would join the Senate in transferring Space
Station research to the Biological and Physical Research account; the
FY 2002 House appropriation for life and microgravity research aboard
the Station would be $344 million, up $60 million from the request.
Placing these research funds in a separate account would make it more
difficult for NASA to siphon funds from research to construction of
Transferring these funds out of the Space Station account
allows the House to provide $275 million for a Crew Return Vehicle (CRV),
a program deleted from the request and Senate plans. The CRV would be
used as an emergency escape vehicle for the Station crew. Without this
six or seven-person vehicle, Station crews would be limited to three,
drastically reducing the amount of research that can be done on the
Station to an estimated 20 person-hours a week. NASA had proposed to
eliminate the CRV as a cost-cutting measure. The House bill contains
language that would rescind these funds if NASA does not request least
$200 million for the project in next year's budget as a sign of the
agency's commitment to placing adequate research staff aboard the Station.
The bill also delays the availability of these funds until August 2002
and would release these funds only after Congress is satisfied that
NASA has solid plans for at least a six-person crew on the Station and
a clear timetable for developing the CRV.
The Science, Aeronautics, and Technology (SAT)
account, which funds nearly all of NASA's R&D not related to the
Space Station, would receive $7.6 billion, 7.6 percent or $539 million
above FY 2001. More than half of the increase would be due to the transfer
of Space Station research to Biological and Physical Research (BPR).
BPR, formerly known as Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications,
would receive $711 million for a 87.7 percent increase. Taking out the
Space Station research, however, would leave $367 million, nearly the
same as the request and below the FY 2001 funding level. This program
funds ground and space-based research to advance the safety and health
of astronauts in space, but covers investigations on a variety of life,
medical, and microgravity sciences research topics. In addition to the
transfer, the House bill contains $132 million in congressional earmarks
for R&D and other projects in SAT, leaving only a modest increase
for core SAT programs.
Within SAT, Space Science would receive $2.8
billion, a 5.1 percent increase but $27 million short of the request.
Both the House and Senate would go along with NASA's requested steep
cuts to the Earth Science program, with the House providing $1.5 billion,
the same as the request and 11.6 percent below the FY 2001 funding level.
The Aero-Space Technology program would rise
9.7 percent or $215 million in the House plan to $2.4 billion. Much
of the increase would be due to a boost from $272 million in FY 2001
to the requested $475 million in FY 2002 for the Space Launch Initiative,
which funds research and development efforts for reusable launch vehicle
technology. There would also be nearly $50 million for unrequested congressional
The Academic Programs appropriation of $189
million in the House would be a substantial 42.0 percent or $56 million
increase over FY 2001, slightly less than the Senate's $211 million.
The Senate bill contains 27 congressionally designated projects totaling
$53 million, while the House bill contains a partially overlapping list
of 22 congressionally designated projects totaling $35 million. Although
all programs in this account are classified as R&D, the congressionally
designated projects include funds for planetariums, science museums,
education center, and even a dormitory.
The House and Senate versions of the VA-HUD bill are
due for floor debate and approval before the August congressional recess.
A House-Senate conference committee to produce the final version of
the bill is not expected to meet until September.
- July 27, 2001
AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program
American Association for the Advancement of Science
1200 New York Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20005