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August Budget Update

August 30, 1996

Prior to leaving for the August recess, the House of Representatives completed work on the 13 appropriations bills funding discretionary programs for FY 97, including all federal support for R&D. The Senate must still pass five bills. Of the eight bills that provide support for science and technology, only the Agriculture bill has been cleared by both houses and signed by the President.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) calculates that the House bills would provide $73.9 billion for total R&D in the coming fiscal year. That amount is $2.6 billion or 3.7 percent more than the current FY 96 level. The overall increase, however, is due to large increases for just two agencies: the Department of Defense, which would have $2.4 billion more for its R&D activities, for a total of $38.3 billion (up 6.7 percent); and the National Institutes of Health, which would receive a $785 million (or 6.8 percent increase) to $12.8 billion for its support of R&D. Most other agencies' R&D budgets would either increase by a few million dollars at best, or fall sharply.

Under the House-passed Commerce appropriations bill, funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would decrease by 14.1 percent to $468.4 million. The Senate Appropriations Committee allocated $445.3 million. An amendment in the House bill specifies that $110.5 million provided for the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) should be used to close out the program in FY 97 and could only be used for the continuation of awards made before October 1 to companies with fewer than 500 employees. The Senate bill does not limit ATP fund to small companies, but does restrict funding to grant continuations.

The total NASA budget would decline by 2.2 percent (to $13.6 billion) under the House bill or 1.4 percent (to $13.7 billion) under the Senate's provisions. Hardest hit by the House reductions would be the Science, Aeronautics, and Technology (SAT) program, with Mission to Planet Earth dropping 8.7 percent to $1.2 billion.

The Senate provided an additional $35 million over the House appropriations of $3.2 billion for National Science Foundation. The Senate bill increased funding by $5 million to support EPSCoR and informal science education programs.

The AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Project tracks the status of the various appropriations bills as they move through Congress and calculates their impact on R&D funding. The information is available on the AAAS web site: http://aaas.org/spp/dspp/rd/rdwwwpg.htm.