First FY 2012 Spending Measure Completed – NSF Gets Increase

November 21, 2011

by Paula Skedsvold

Congress passed its first package of FY 2012 appropriations bills late last week. The “minibus” combined  three spending bills including Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) which funds NSF. The House-Senate conference agreement decreases CJS spending by $583 million from FY 2011, but provides $7 billion for NSF, an amount that is $173 million above last year’s funding.  NSF’s research account line will increase by $155 million.  The Education and Human Resources Directorate will lose $32 million from FY 2011 funding levels. Also included in the bill is funding for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy which is now slated to lose over $32 million or 32 percent from FY 2011.

The spending package also included a Continuing Resolution that continues funding for all federal programs and agencies not included in the three appropriations bills. The CR continues funding until December 16, 2011, unless Congress completes the other spending bills before this date. The new CR simply extends the prior CR and makes no other funding changes. Other appropriations bills such as Labor-Health and Human Services and Education are expected to present more difficult hurdles in the coming weeks since they contain provisions that do not enjoy broad bi-partisan support (e.g., health care bill).

Meanwhile, the Budget Control Act required both the House and Senate to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by the end of the calendar year. The Senate has not yet voted, but the House rejected a proposal on Friday. The Budget Control Act also established the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction or super-committee and provided a mandate of identifying $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. Today is the deadline for a budget agreement, and early reports indicate that there is little hope for an agreement. Without this agreement, budget cuts at comparable levels are automatically triggered and will take effect in Jan. 2013.