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Congress Completes Appropriations: Nearly $10 Billion in Cuts In Store

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 as expected, on a 318-109 vote. The vote comes a day after the Senate passed the bill on a 73-26 vote, and thereby completes the Congressional appropriations cycle for FY 2013, nearly six months after the start of the fiscal year.

According to initial AAAS estimates, federal R&D investment will amount to approximately $130.9 billion in FY 2013, a drop of $9.6 billion or 6.9 percent from FY 2012. Nearly all of this decline is due to sequestration, as Congress appeared to hold several R&D accounts nearly flat and trimming only $506.6 million from R&D expenditures in the final bill. However, there is some considerable variation agency-by-agency. For instance, on the defense side of the ledger, Congress trimmed Department of Defense (DOD) R&D by $1.3 billion below FY 2012 levels — though short of the Administration’s goal to cut appropriations further. Coupled with sequestration, DOD R&D will likely fall by $7.0 billion, or nearly ten percent; it’s hard to say at this time how these cuts will be allocated between the science & technology and weapons development accounts. On the other hand, Congress granted increases to the Department of Energy (DOE) atomic weapons and nonproliferation accounts within the National Nuclear Security Administration, leaving DOE’s atomic defense R&D funding $313 million or 7.3 percent above FY 2012 levels. After sequestration, this funding will only experience a roughly 1.1 percent drop from FY 2012. Congress also restored funding for research in the Defense Health Program, as they have in years past.

Nondefense research agencies also are subject to some variation. For instance, the National Science Foundation received an overall R&D boost of $152 million or 2.7 percent, which would leave the agency’s R&D budget only 2.4 percent below FY 2012 levels after including sequestration. NSF also saw the preservation of its political science research programs, but with some clear restrictions. Overall R&D budgets at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and, especially, the Department of Homeland Security were increased significantly — in near accord with the Administration’s original budget request — likely leaving both agencies above FY 2012 levels even after sequestration is applied.  At NASA, the Science and Space Technology directorates were boosted at the expense of the Exploration and Space Operations accounts, leaving the overall R&D budget $103.3 million or 1.1 percent above FY 2012 levels, and $371.8 million or 4.0 percent below FY 2012 after sequestration. The NIH Director’s Office received a modest boost, but sequestration will still leave agency R&D funding roughly $1.4 billion or 4.8 percent below FY 2012 levels.

In historical terms, when adjusted for inflation, these figures put federal R&D investment at its lowest point since FY 2002, and more than $25 billion in constant dollars below the all-time peak in 2010. This represents a 17.1 percent decline in just three years.

This post will be updated as necessary. Please note, many of these figures will likely be updated with the release of the President’s FY 2014 budget in April.

AAAS Estimates of R&D in Final FY 2013 Appropriations: PDF | PNG

Select Agency Tables:

Dept. of Energy: PDF | PNG
Dept. of Defense: PDF | PNG