NSF Slated for Cuts in Both House and Senate Proposals
Work on fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations resumed last week after Congress returned from their 4th of July break. Both House and Senate appropriators have proposed funding cuts for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in their respective Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bills.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and advanced its CJS spending bill on July 13. The measure would fund NSF at $9.5 billion in FY 2024, approximately 4 percent below the level NSF received in FY 2023. Congress provided NSF a total of $9.9 billion in FY2023 - a historic $1 billion increase, which included both regular appropriations and supplemental funding. Earlier this year, President Biden proposed to boost NSF's funding by 15 percent in his FY 2024 budget request. Within NSF's budget, the Senate bill would provide $7.6 billion (-3 percent) for its research directorates, $187 million (flat) for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC), and $1.2 billion (-10 percent) for the STEM Education Directorate.
The House CJS bill, which was advanced by its respective appropriations subcommittee last Friday, would also cut funding from NSF but by a slightly smaller amount. The bill includes $9.6 billion for NSF, a roughly 2.5 percent cut from FY 2023. The House bill sets aside $7.9 billion (+0.5 percent) for research and related activities at NSF, $254 million (+36 percent) for its MREFC account, and $1 billion (-27 percent) for STEM education. The bill currently awaits consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee.
The CJS spending bill also includes funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
NOAA would see its budget slashed by 15 percent under the House bill, while the Senate proposes to boost its budget by 2 percent. The agency received a total of $6.4 billion in FY 2023, with President Biden requesting a 7 percent boost in FY 2024.
- Like NSF, NIST is slated for spending cuts in both chambers. The Senate bill includes $1.45 billion for NIST, a decrease of 11 percent compared to its total FY 2023 budget, while the House bill would provide a 9 percent cut to the agency.
- The Senate proposal would shrink NASA's funding by 1.5 percent, while the House bill includes essentially level funding of $25.4 billion. President Biden has requested $27.2 billion for the space agency in FY 2024.
House Republicans are continuing to seek spending cuts to climate, clean energy, and environmental programs in their spending bills. The House CJS bill would gut NIST's Center of Excellence in Climate Change and NSF's U.S. Global Change Research Program and Clean Energy Technology Program. The legislation would also block funding for "promotion or any contributions" to environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments, and for the implementation of President Biden's Executive Order, "Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad."
Both chambers are pushing ahead with their appropriations work in order to pass all twelve spending bills by the September 30 deadline. So far, the House Appropriations Committee has advanced 8 of its 12 spending bills, while the Senate Appropriations Committee has advanced 5.
House Spending Bills Would Slash Funding for EPA, Interior, NIH
Two additional appropriations bills that include fiscal year (FY) 2024 funding for key science and environmental agencies were marked up by their respective appropriations subcommittees in the House last week. Both measures propose deep cuts for research.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies advanced their spending bill for fiscal year (FY) 2024, with a total of $25.4 billion in non-defense discretionary spending, a massive cut of 35 percent compared to FY 2023. The measure includes:
- $1.35 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey, a reduction of 10 percent. President Biden requested a 19 percent boost for the agency.
$1.54 billion for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a 13 percent cut.
- $3 billion for the National Park Service, a 12 percent reduction.
- $1.2 billion for the Bureau of Land Management, a 21 percent cut.
$6.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a nearly 40 percent cut for the regulatory agency, with $561 million (-30 percent) for its Science and Technology account. Notably, the bill rescinds $7.8 billion from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and $1.4 billion from environmental and climate justice grants, provided to the EPA by the Inflation Reduction Act.
- A provision to repeal the Biden Administration's Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.
Democrats on the subcommittee voiced their opposition to the draconian cuts proposed, saying they would harm US efforts to fight climate change. "The cuts in this bill are so severe that even agencies that usually enjoy bipartisan support are targeted for damaging reductions," said Ranking Member Chellie Pingree (D-Maine). The full appropriations committee is expected to mark up the bill this Wednesday.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education, and Related Agencies also advanced their FY 2024 spending bill with sharp cuts for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The NIH budget would shrink by $2.8 billion or 6 percent to $44.6 billion, with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (-23 percent) absorbing much of the reduction. The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, which received $1.5 billion in FY 2023, would receive only $500 million in FY 2024 under the House proposal. CDC's overall funding would be slashed by 17 percent.
Senate appropriators are expected to release their Interior-EPA and Labor-HHS appropriations bills in the coming weeks. Advocates are hoping to see higher funding levels for science in the Senate versions.
Study Highlights Economic Returns of Investing in Nature
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that while current trends in environmental degradation will lead to large economic losses in the coming decades, investing in nature can greatly improve economic and environmental outcomes.
As part of the study, researchers developed a new model that captures interactions between the economy and the environment. The model incorporates how nature benefits humans by pollinating crops, providing timber, storing carbon, and providing catch for marine fisheries, and how those benefits affect the economy overall.
The study examined various policy options for investing in nature and calculated potential annual gains of $100 million to $350 million in countries' gross domestic product (GDP), with the largest increases in GDP estimated for low-income countries. Continued trends in environmental degradation, by contrast, would result in $75 billion in global losses annually.
Science Coalition Reiterates Support for Robust NSF Funding
In response to the recent debt limit framework passed by Congress, the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), of which AIBS is a member, sent a letter to appropriators urging them to fund the National Science Foundation (NSF) at the highest possible amount building on fiscal year (FY) 2023 funding levels.
The letter from CNSF--an alliance of more than 140 professional organizations, scientific societies, universities, and businesses that advocate for NSF--reads, in part: "In FY23, Congress provided NSF with $1 billion in supplemental emergency funding, raising its budget to $9.8 billion. With that funding NSF has advanced a new directorate for the first time in 30 years and buttressed key efforts to advance STEM education and broaden participation. Recognizing that the debt limit deal has provided a framework for non-defense discretionary funding levels for the next two years, we request that you, at the very least, maintain funding for NSF at the FY23 level of $9.8 billion. To provide less than that amount will result in significant cuts for the agency and send a clear message to our competitors that the U.S. is not serious about maintaining our leadership in science and technology. Holding NSF at the FY23 level of funding without those supplemental funds would represent a 10 percent cut to NSF current funding, even before inflation considerations."
Read the letters sent to House and Senate appropriators.
Enter the 13th Annual Faces of Biology Photo Contest
Enter the Faces of Biology Photo Contest for a chance to win $250 and to have your photo appear on the cover of the journal BioScience.
The competition recognizes scientists who use imagery to communicate aspects of biological research to the public and policymakers. Once again, this year's competition is sponsored by the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in addition to the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).
"Photography is one of many excellent tools scientists have to showcase their work to new audiences, including policymakers and the public," said Scott Glisson, CEO of AIBS. "AIBS remains committed to strengthening scientists' ability to communicate with broad audiences. An important part of that effort has been supporting this artful approach to sharing their research."
The theme of the contest is "Faces of Biology." Photographs entered into the competition must depict a person, such as a scientist, technician, or student, engaging in biological research. The depicted research may occur outside, in a lab, with a natural history collection, on a computer, in a classroom, or elsewhere.
The winning photos from the 2022 contest were featured in the April 2023 issue of BioScience.
Submissions must be received by 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time on September 30, 2023. For more information or to enter the contest, visit our website.
Democratic lawmakers in the House have reintroduced legislation to strengthen the science required to address the growing threat of wildfires. The National Wildland Fire Risk Reduction Program Act, sponsored by Science, Space and Technology Committee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), would invest in research, set up warning and forecast systems, develop observation technologies, and standardize data collection efforts to improve the nation's preparedness and response to wildfires.
In response to a 2022 memorandum from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a draft plan for providing public access to the results of federally funded research. The White House policy requires agencies to make scientific publications resulting from federally supported research freely available and publicly accessible immediately, without any embargo. NIST is soliciting feedback on its draft plan through August 14, 2023. Last month, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy also released updated public access plans.
The National Academies are seeking experts to be considered for membership rotation with the Committee to Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Nominations are solicited for experts in climate change, environmental justice, water systems and earth systems, and risk characterization and communication. Nominations can be submitted online until July 26, 2023.
Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a request for information to inform the development of a roadmap for its new Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate, as directed by the CHIPS and Science Act. The legislation tasked the TIP Directorate to develop a roadmap to guide investment decisions in use-inspired and translational research over a 3-year time frame, working towards the goal of advancing U.S. competitiveness in key technology focus areas, that include biotechnology, artificial intelligence, quantum information science, etc., and addressing the identified societal, national, and geostrategic challenges. The deadline for submitting comments is approaching soon. Submit your input by July 27, 2023.
From the Federal Register
The following items appeared in the Federal Register from July 3 to 14, 2023.
Environmental Protection Agency
Health and Human Services
Institute of Museum and Library Services
National Science Foundation