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Senate Appropriations advances FY 2018 spending bills, would fund Regional Innovation at $21 million

July 27, 2017
By: Jason Rittenberg

Over the past week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations has passed bills to fund commerce and science, transportation, energy and water and agriculture. Regional Innovation Strategies would be funded at $21 million, an increase of $4 million over FY 2017. Other innovation proposals received mixed support, as the Senate cut $3.2 billion from commerce, justice and science funding and another $400 million from agriculture.

Innovation funding levels

The following lists provide an overview of FY 2018 (compared to FY 2017 | House FY 2018) science and innovation funding levels on a per-subcommittee basis.

Agriculture (bill)

  • USDA: Agricultural Research Service funding of $1.2 billion (-$87 million | $50 million)
  • USDA: Rural Development funding of $226 million (no change | no change) and, unlike the House bill, does not include authorization of the administration’s proposed restructure of rural economic infrastructure

Commerce, Justice, Science (summary)

  • EDA: funding of $254 million (-$22 million | $78 million) including $21 million for Regional Innovation Strategies ($4 million | $4 million)
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership: program funding of $130 million (no change | $30 million)
  • Manufacturing USA: program funding of $15 million (-$10 million | $10 million)
  • Minority Business Development Agency: total funding of $34 million (no change | no change)
  • NASA education programs: funding of $100 million (no change | $10 million)
  • NASA science programs: funding of $5.6 billion (-$193 million | -$187 million)
  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration: total funding of $32 million (no change | -$2 million)
  • NSF total funding of $7.3 billion (-$161 million | -$28 million)

Energy & Water (bill)

  • Energy science research: funding of $5.6 billion ($158 million | $158 million)
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy: funding of $330 million ($24 million | $330 million – proposed for elimination in the House)
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: total funding of $1.9 billion (-$153 million | $833 million)

Transportation, Housing & Urban Development (summary)

  • HUD: Community Development Block Grant formula funding of $3.0 billion (no change | -$100 million)

Overall spending levels

The Senate set its spending levels equal to FY 2017 spending, but this level of funding is requires further Congressional action. The Budget Control Act of 2011 set in place annual limits on federal discretionary spending. Congress has chosen to adjust these limits to provide for higher spending levels, but the most recent adjustment has expired. Without further action, the limits for FY 2018 are below the previous year’s limits by $4.9 billion. Both the House's and Senate's appropriations bills are above the required caps for FY 2018. In order to enact the proposed funding levels without triggering across-the-board funding cuts, Congress will need to act to increase the spending limits.

Next steps

Under normal order, these approved bills would move next to the floor of the Senate, while the appropriations committee would continue working through the remaining spending bills. However, because both chambers are developing spending plans that require increasing spending limits, as noted above, the FY 2018 budget may not be set before the end of the current fiscal year.

Although there is good news for science and technology in the bills passed today, the House and Senate must solve the problem of spending caps and conference their bills before FY 2018 funding can be finalized. There are still many steps in the process before spending numbers are set.

Anyone interested in ensuring Congress adequately supports funding for science, tech, innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives in FY 2018 and beyond should contact SSTI at 614-901-1690 or contactus@ssti.org.

federal budget, eda, nasa, nsf, usda, dept of commerce