FY22 budget and appropriations update:
The House Appropriations Committee started to draft its FY22 appropriations bills in June, and has already held a series of markups. The House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Subcommittee will markup its bill on July 12. A full committee markup on the CJS bill, which funds the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA, is expected to follow on July 15. The committee hopes to move all 12 bills through the House floor in July, likely in groups or “minibuses” as it did last year. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet announced when it will start markups on its versions of these FY22 bills.
NOAA budget and admin action:
NOAA finally released its detailed FY22 budget justification in mid-June, and the request focuses on increasing funding for NOAA’s climate research programs, climate observations and forecasting programs, and ecological restoration and community resilience. It also bolsters funding for offshore wind capabilities, vessels, aircraft, and satellites, as well as space weather observation and prediction services, and diversity and equity initiatives. Also in June the Senate confirmed Rick Spinrad to serve as NOAA administrator by a voice vote, demonstrating strong bipartisan support for his nomination.
Senate and House federal R&D bills status:
The Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260; USICA) in early June. USICA aims to strengthen U.S. competitiveness with China on a number of fronts, and it also includes the Endless Frontier Act, which would expand and reimagine NSF. Meanwhile, the House recently passed its version of an NSF reauthorization, the NSF for the Future Act (H.R. 2225), on a 345-67 vote, as well as the DOE Science for the Future Act (H.R. 3593) by a vote of 351-68. The two pieces of legislation will now go to conference with the Senate-passed USICA as lawmakers try to reconcile their differences.
Infrastructure package update:
President Biden recently endorsed a bipartisan infrastructure proposal worth $579 billion that a group of Republican senators helped to develop. While this framework does not include the R&D initiatives in the American Jobs Plan, the White House indicated that provisions left out of this infrastructure package would be pursued in a separate effort through a technique called budget reconciliation that would not require any Republican votes. Congress will spend the next few months working on the legislative text for both the bipartisan package and the Democratic priorities reconciliation package.
House Science Committee hearings:
The House Science Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the state of wildland fire science and opportunities for future research and coordination. The committee has included a provision in its NSF for the Future Act that lists wildfire science as a focus area for NSF’s risk and resilience research program. Earlier in June, the House Science Committee held a hearing on defining a national “OceanShot,” which is a “bold, ambitious vision for advancing ocean science and technology to address major challenges such as climate change.”