Policy Corner: Senate Committee Approves Funding for Research
Federal funding for numerous federal programs and offices is important to many members of ACSM and other member societies of FASEB, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. FASEB vigorously tracks relevant legislative committees and administrative agencies, including the complex federal appropriations process. The following update is based on recent reports by FASEB government relations staff.
Flat Funding for Energy Dept.’s Science Office
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2012 Energy & Water (E&W) funding bill (HR 2354) by a vote of 28-2. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) were the “no” votes. The legislation provides the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE SC) with $4.843 billion, equal to the level included in the full year FY 2011 “continuing resolution” and approximately $43 million above the House recommendation. The bill also provides $250 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, $70 million above the amount included in the House bill. Bill and report language is not yet publicly available although a summary of the legislation is posted on the Senate Appropriations Committee website. No amendments concerning DOE SC were offered at the hearing.
The E & W Subcommittee approved the bill unanimously via voice vote on Wednesday, Sept. 7. During his opening statement at the subcommittee mark-up, ranking member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated that support for research is one of his highest priorities in the bill and made a plug for funding research and development as an appropriate role of government. He also noted that the funding level for the research included in the FY 2012 bill is less than that recommended by the America COMPETES Act. No amendments were considered during the subcommittee mark-up per Senator Feinstein’s request that those be held until full committee consideration of the bill. An audio-only webcast of the subcommittee’s deliberations is available online.
Agriculture Research Funding Approved
Also on Sept. 7, the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2012 Agriculture funding bill (HR 2112) by a vote of 28-2. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) were the “no” votes. The legislation provides $266 million for the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) which is $1 million above the level in the FY 2011 full year “continuing resolution” and $36.5 million more than the bill approved by the House. The bill also provides $2.309 billion for the entire National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service – approximately $39 million below the FY 2011 level. Bill and report language is not yet publicly available although a summary of the legislation is posted on the Senate Appropriations Committee website. The full committee mark-up was webcast but the file hasn’t been posted online yet. There was no subcommittee mark-up of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill this year. Several amendments un-related to the agricultural research programs were offered during yesterday’s mark-up but the sponsors of the amendments agreed to defer votes on their proposals until the bill reaches the Senate floor.
During their opening statements, both Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) and ranking member Roy Blunt (R-MO) expressed support for the competitive agriculture research programs at USDA and noted that they were happy that there were certain programs (including agriculture research) that they were able to prioritize to receive flat funding or small increases. Senator Blunt added that most programs funded within the bill were cut at least five percent from FY 2011 levels.
FASEB will continue to monitor the appropriations process and keep us updated on any new developments.