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

The Senate Appropriations Committee finished all twelve of its appropriations bills early this year, finalizing the last few right before the August recess. As in the House, their work is not done and change may still happen as the bills make it to the Senate floor. Additional changes will definitely happen once – or if – the Senate and House attempt to merge their very disparate versions.

The following are highlights of the funding levels for the major R&D agencies as prescribed in the Senate appropriation bills to date. For a visualization of all the numbers listed, look through our Appropriations 2024 Dashboard, and click here for a similar rundown of all the agency’s numbers in the House bills.

The National Science Foundation faces a 4% cut overall under the Senate appropriations bill, with cuts focused largely on STEM Education, which faces a 25% decrease. Research and Related Activities receives a 2.9% cut under the Senate plan, with several mentions in the report language that all disciplines at NSF are part of a “balanced whole,” and directing the agency not to prioritize the new TIP directorate to the detriment of other discipline areas. Other than an additional decrease to Agency and Award Management, the remaining programs at NSF do not face cuts, maintaining FY 2023 budget levels for another year.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is facing a nearly 25% cut, indicating a return to pre-IRA funding levels. The majority of NOAA’s cuts are not focused on its R&D programs, with Oceanic and Atmospheric Research looking at a 3.5% cut, the National Weather Service staying level with FY 2023 funding, and the Marines Fisheries Service a 1.7% cut. The National Ocean Service and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service are facing the biggest cuts at 14.8% and 12.2%, respectively.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is also returning to pre-CHIPS and Science Act funding levels, with a 39% decrease compared to last year’s appropriations. The cuts are mostly to the Industrial Technology Services, which were the focus of the NIST authorizations in CHIPS and Science, returning them back down to pre-FY 2023 levels, a nearly 60% cut. Construction of Research Facilities at NIST is getting an even bigger cut (67%) also bringing it back down to pre-FY 2023 levels and slowing down the response to a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study that indicated that NIST’s facilities were in dire condition. The Scientific and Technological Research Service is also getting a cut, a comparatively minor 14.6%.

The Department of Energy has a mix of increases and decreases for its programs under the Senate bills, with an increase of 4% to the Office of Science, but a decrease to almost all of the office’s science programs, with the exception of Biological and Environmental Research that is looking at a 2% increase. The Fusion Energy and High Energy Physics programs are being cut by nearly 30% each, despite recent research advances in the fields. The Office of Electricity is also facing a return to pre-IRA levels in this budget.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is facing a steep cut too; the Senate plan ignores CHIPS and Science and IRA authorizations and brings the budget back down to prior levels. The R&D intensive programs under EERE are spared from the cut, though, with their budgets staying at FY 2023 levels with the exception Wind Energy, which is receiving a 75% increase that follows along with the president’s request. The cuts to EERE are certainly going to have impacts on the research done, but they aren’t focused on it directly.

In other DOE programs, Fossil Energy and Nuclear Energy are also being cut by 29% and 33%, respectively, with Reactor Concepts R&D under Nuclear Energy taking an especially big hit – a 58% decrease, though that was also requested by the president.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, the other nuclear agency under DoE, is getting an increase, with the Senate recommendation matching or exceeding the president’s request for many of the R&D accounts under its Weapons Activities and Nonproliferation programs.

The National Institutes of Health is looking at a 0.8% cut, though many of its institutes will remain at FY 2023 funding levels. The institutes facing the greatest cuts are National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Office of the Director, with 5.5%, 7.7%, and 13.6% decreases, respectively. Some institutes are actually increasing in funding, with Mental Health going up 4.1% and Aging going up 2.2%. Most others stay within 1% of their FY 2023 budgets. ARPA-H is also staying steady with its FY 2023 numbers.

The Department of Defense has a mild decrease to R&D overall in the Senate, with an 8% cut to S&T (6.1-6.3) but a 16% increase to basic research within RDT&E accounts. The Senate also brought basic science back to the Space Force, increasing it dramatically (up 235% from FY 2023); in comparison, the House zeroed out its basic research accounts. Developmental research is increased in the Senate bill as well, resulting in a total R&D increase of 2.1% when counting accounts 6.1 through 6.6.

The majority of research accounts at the Department of Transportation saw increases, with the FAA’s Research Engineering and Development program and the Federal Railroad Administration receiving a 31% increase, the NHTS receiving 37%, and both Pipeline and Hazardous Materials receiving 51% increases. The Office of the Secretary is getting a significant bump, too, in the Senate plan, an increase of 335% to its research programs. ARPA-Infrastructure also sees a potential budget in the Senate plan, with $14.75 million to start funding the agency, slightly under the budget proposed by the president.

The Environmental Protection Agency is potentially being cut by 2.1%, a very marginal reduction. The Science and Technology account is remaining almost at FY 2023 levels, with a 0.9% cut and an increase of 2% to its Clean Air program. Environmental Programs and Management is receiving a nearly 9% increase in the Senate bills. The Superfund program would receive the biggest cut, with a 22% decrease over FY 2023, something that has been prescribed by the President’s budget request.

The Department of Agriculture got a mixed bag in the Senate bill, with the Agricultural Research Service seeing a 10% increase while the National Institute of Food and Agriculture receiving a 1.4% decrease. Keeping in line with the House, the National Agricultural Statistics Service is facing the largest cut among the research programs, a 19% cut. 

The Department of Homeland Security does not often appear in these rundowns, but it’s worth mentioning this year because several of its R&D accounts received zero funding in the Senate bill, with the Coast Guard’s RDT&E, and CISA and the TSA’s R&D accounts zeroed out. The other research accounts at Homeland are getting cuts too – the Countering WMD Office is looking at a 21% decreases and the Science and Technology Directorate 19%.