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House and Senate R&D Appropriations Estimates

An overview and breakdown of annual spending legislation.

All twelve annual spending bills have been approved by the House Appropriations Committee and nine by the full House, while Senate Democrats have proposed a full slate of their own. Here is a brief review of R&D estimates with functional highlights, topical spotlights on climate science and STEM education, and international comparisons. Download the report.

Our current updated estimates for aggregate R&D in House appropriations, including floor amendments for spending legislation adopted by the full chamber, is $169.4 billion, an increase of $11.2 billion or 7.1% above FY 2021 estimated levels. For the Senate Democrats’ slate of proposed legislation, we estimate a slightly higher total of $171.1 billion, an increase of $12.9 billion or 8.2% above FY 2021 estimates. More detail on FY 2022 appropriations can be found in our interactive dashboard.

Both the House and Senate R&D estimates are somewhat lower than the White House R&D request. They also suggest R&D appropriations may grow more slowly than overall discretionary spending, which was slated for an 8.6% increase in the White House budget and the FY 2022 budget resolution.

Should final R&D appropriations end up within the range described, it would represent one of the larger increases of the past decade in both dollars and percentage increase, though not unprecedented. Historical R&D budget authority data has indicated similar or larger increases in FY 2016 and FY 2018. Federal R&D also saw larger growth in FY 2020, though much of that increase was driven by emergency COVID-19 R&D.

However, focusing on nondefense R&D alone, the funding growth could be historically large. An increase within the higher end of our House and Senate estimates would likely yield the largest nondefense R&D increase since the Space Race, again excluding emergency increases.

Under these growth estimates, we would expect federal R&D to reach 0.70% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in FY 2022. This would represent a slight decline from FY 2021 levels due to strong economic growth projected by the Congressional Budget Office, but also a modest improvement from recent pre-COVID levels (see the graph below).

For more, download the report.

Authors

Matt Hourihan

Director

Alessandra Zimmermann

Writer / Analyst