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House FY 2024 R&D Appropriations: A Review of R&D Intensive Agency Budgets

There are a lot of moving parts to any federal budget, but with the drastic cuts the House is imposing on FY 2024 appropriations, understanding the changes to R&D accounts is even more important this year. The following is a summary of the highlights for every major R&D agency under the House plan as it currently stands, including both funding levels and some policy riders (additional measures added to bills that aren’t strictly related to the bill’s subject matter) that may impact the agencies.

The House Appropriations Committee has not yet finished passing all its bills; Labor HHS and Commerce-Justice-Science both passed their subcommittees before the August recess but were not brought to the full committee in time. For future updates on the numbers in those two bills, and a visualization of the numbers – look through our Appropriations 2024 Dashboard. There’s also a similar version of this rundown for all the Senate numbers available.

The National Science Foundation is looking at an approximately 3% cut from FY 2023 appropriations, a 15% cut if the FY 2023 CHIPS and Science Act supplemental funding is included. Broken down by program, the Research and Related Activities program is not receiving a cut under the House plan, instead looking at a very marginal (0.3%) increase. Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction is also receiving an increase, 35%, though it’s smaller than the presidential request for the program. Instead, the House’s cuts are primarily to STEM Education, (39%), and several additional policy riders that undermine the program’s functions; the riders don’t impart funding numbers but instead forbid funds from being spent in particular areas.

Section 553 prohibits any funds in the CJS bill to go toward diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, and section 562 prohibits the use of CJS funds for DEI, critical race theory, implicit bias, or other culturally relevant teachings for federal employees. Section 554 also prohibits NSF funds from going to the U.S. Global Change Research or the Clean Energy Technology programs, both funded from the R&RA account.

Also in this suite of policy riders is Section 552, which prohibits funds from being used to implement the OSTP Memorandum ‘‘Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research.” This memo affects more than just NSF, as many research agencies have started to design or revamp open access policies to meet the guidelines the Biden administration set forth.

The National Institutes of Standards and Technology is also facing a cut. Ignoring the CHIPS and Science Act authorized funding levels in FY 2023, the cut is about 9%, but when including total funding in the CHIPS and Science Act, NIST would receive a 38% decrease. This is partially due to cuts to the agency’s Scientific and Tech Research program, which is looking at a 15% decrease, but mostly due cuts to the Industrial Technology Services accounts, which saw a significant increase in FY 2023 to fund their many manufacturing programs but was prescribed a cut of 55% for FY 2024, returning it to slightly below FY 2022 numbers.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is one of the agencies remaining steady in the House bills, keeping its FY 2023 funding nearly the same into FY 2024. This doesn’t include the Inflation Reduction Act funding that NOAA received in FY 2023 and will continue to receive through FY 2026 from the direct appropriations outlined in the law.

The National Institutes of Health’s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Office of the Director are facing significant cuts, 20% and 25% respectively, which would bring both programs to funding levels last seen in FY 2018. Other institutes are holding largely steady, ranging from a cut of 5% (National Institute of Mental Health) to an increase of 5% (National Center for Advancing Translational Science). The majority of the other institutes cluster around a 4% increase comparable to the President’s budget request.

Outside of the institutes, ARPA-H is prescribed a 67% cut, back down to a total of $500 million. On the other hand, the Buildings and Facilities budget is keeping in line with the 40% increase the president requested.

As with other bills, Labor HHS has some policy riders focused on forbidding funds. Section 242 bars any funding from the bill from going to the EcoHealth Alliance in New York (which is tied to the debate surrounding COVID-19 origins), and Sections 532 and 533 bar funding that supports gain of function research or labs at any institution controlled by a foreign adversary, respectively.

The Department of Energy is facing a very mixed response from the House Appropriations Committee, with some programs staying at FY 2023 levels: the Office of Science, ARPA-E, Energy Information Administration and Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (ignoring the additional one-time IRA direct appropriations that occurred in FY 2023).

Other programs are facing cuts, such as Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which is prescribed a 14% cut from last year’s funding (again excluding the IRA and CHIPS direct appropriations). Within EERE are some interesting funding shifts as well; many of the renewable energy programs that the president requested substantial increases for have been cut back to FY 2022 levels, namely Wind, Vehicle Tech, and Water. Advanced Manufacturing retained funding at slightly under FY 2023 levels but was divided into two new accounts: the Industrial Efficiency & Decarbonization Office and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Tech Office. The Office of Electricity is prescribed a 10% cut from FY 2023 appropriations.

Nuclear Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration, however, are looking at increases. If we ignore IRA and CHIPS and Science increases, Nuclear Energy is looking at a 21% increase, and NNSA an 8% increase, focused primarily on NNSA’s Weapons Activities (10%) despite a decrease in the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation account (-14%).

The Energy and Water bill also had non-funding riders, with several prohibiting the funding from going to DEI, CRT, or racial equity measures. Additional riders prohibit funds from going to anything related to the Justice40 initiative, a Biden administration priority that directed 40% of environmental investments to go to disadvantaged communities, which included clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives.

Expectations were high for the Department of Defense’s funding in the House bill, but if you’ve been keeping track of our dashboard for the past couple of months, you might be confused – all the Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) accounts we track saw cuts, and not insignificant ones. The Research account (6.1-6.2) of RDT&E is facing a 15% cut across all branches. The Army is facing the biggest cut, with 28% less research funding than FY 2023.

There is more than just basic and applied research funding contained within RDT&E though, and that later-stage science funding is what the House plan funds. When including all development accounts, RDT&E is looking at a 61% increase in science funding. System Development and Demonstration (6.5 in defense language) is looking at a 151% increase across all branches, with the Army and Defense-Wide 6.5 nearly doubling.

Like in many of the other bills, policy riders in the Defense bill prohibit funding for DEI efforts and the implementation of DEI-related executive orders. An additional line rescinds over $714 million in funding for work related to “mitigating climate risk that doesn’t improve combat capability,” much of which will likely include R&D funding.

Most R&D accounts in the Department of Transportation are seeing increases, with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials seeing increases of nearly 40%. The Office of the Secretary’s research programs are seeing a 168% increase. Research at the FAA and Federal Railroad Administration, however, is remaining at nearly FY 2023 levels, and ARPA-Infrastructure, which saw its very first budget request in this year’s President’s budget request, is not brought up in the bill at all.

The Environmental Protection Agency faces some very steep cuts to its R&D programs in the House bill, with a 30% cut to its Science and Technology program. The 72% cut to the Superfund program is not as dire as it seems, though, as its ‘defunding’ is part of a move to shift away from funding the remediation of certain sites via annual appropriations, using the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs and Act to clear out the superfund’s cleanup backlog.

In the bill are riders blocking the EPA from implementing several new regulations, including the Mercury and Air Toxins Rule and the Carbon Pollution Rule, as well as future regulations on ethylene oxide and tailpipe emissions, and restricting various rat poisons.

Funding in the Department of Agriculture has its highs and lows this year, with some agencies, such as the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) facing mild cuts (1.5%) while others like the Agricultural Research Service are seeing increases (3.2%). The National Agricultural Statistics Service appears to be faring the worst out of USDA programs, with a 24.4% decrease compared to FY 2023.

Just like the other agencies, the Agriculture bill included policy riders prohibiting funding from implementing racial equity or critical race theory programs.