Accompanying the FY 2015 omnibus bill is report language that outlines congressional intent and provides some direction to federal agencies as to how the U.S. Congress expects appropriations to be directed and managed. Some highlights include:
Climate Science: The report omits language included in earlier versions of the bill that would have restricted the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, National Science Foundation (NSF), and NASA from implementing recommendations from various climate change reports such as the National Climate Assessment and the IPCC report. It does, however, call on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Pentagon to report on how much they spend to implement recommendations from the climate reports.
NSF: It encourages NSF to establish the National Brain Observatory working group in conjunction with other agencies. It also retains language in the FY 2015 CJS appropriations bill (House Report 113-448) that would limit increases above the President’s budget request to only “math and physical sciences; computer and information science and engineering; engineering; and biological sciences.” Depending on how NSF’s general counsel interprets the language, it could mean the Geoscience and Social, Behavioral, and Economic Directorates would be restricted from additional growth.
NIH: The report language accompanying the Labor-HHS bill includes $12.6 million in the Common Fund for the Kids First Act to support pediatric research. At the same time, it notes that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should take disease burden into consideration. It also includes language that indicates that Congress expects NIH to fund research only on “scientific opportunities” and to ensure there is rigorous oversight of grant awards that reflect its “core mission;” this is an apparent nod to some congressional leaders who have highlighted specific grants that seem frivolous to them. It also gives NIH 120 days to report to Congress on how the agency plans to improve the ability of Young Investigators to receive first R01 grants, without specifying an age target. Finally, it encourages the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a workshop on antibiotic resistance.