On September 9, 2021, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved $45 billion in research funding as part of a larger $3.5 trillion budget plan that Democratic lawmakers are looking to pass through the budget reconciliation process. The bill would make significant investments in the National Science Foundation (NSF) and labs at the Department of Energy (DOE).
The science panel’s reconciliation bill would authorize multi-year spending for a number of research agencies, including NSF, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and DOE. Highlights from the bill include:
- NSF, which has a current budget of $8.5 billion, would receive an additional $11 billion over the next 10 years, with $7.6 billion directed to its research directorates and $3.4 billion going to research infrastructure projects. Of the research infrastructure funds, $1 billion would be set aside for academic research facilities modernization, including $300 million for historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, Tribal colleges and universities, and other minority serving institutions.
- DOE will receive approximately $15.8 billion over the next 5 years, of which $12.8 billion would go to its Office of Science. This includes $10.4 billion to support infrastructure improvements at the national labs managed by the Office of Science and $2 billion for research and development activities. Overall, $3.3 billion would be set aside for clean energy research and development activities at DOE.
- Over the next 5 years, NOAA would get $4.2 billion to fund several climate programs, including $1.2 billion for climate modeling and forecasting research, $765 million for climate resilience and adaptation research, $1 billion for hurricane tracking aircraft, and $743 million to upgrade research infrastructure projects.
- NIST would receive $4.2 billion over the next decade, with $1.2 billion directed to research in specified scientific and technical areas, including artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum information science, and advanced manufacturing.
- NASA would get $4 billion over the next 5 years to upgrade its research facilities. Additionally, $400 million would be directed to NASA’s climate research programs.
This bill is separate from the authorization measures passed by the House earlier this year to set future spending levels for programs within NSF (H.R. 2225) and DOE (H.R. 3593). Other committees within the House are simultaneously working on separate pieces of legislation as part of the reconciliation package. The House Natural Resources Committee has also advanced its $26.5 billion spending bill, which includes $3.5 billion to establish a Civilian Climate Corps – a climate jobs training and placement program – across several agencies; $150 million for the U.S. Geological Survey, with $100 million carved out for its climate adaptation science centers; $9.5 billion for coastal and Great Lakes restoration at NOAA; $500 million for NOAA to address coastal hazards, including sea-level rise; and $100 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve the resiliency and capacity of habitats to withstand extreme weather events. The reconciliation process will allow such legislation to pass both chambers by a simple majority.