NSF Does Well (All Things Considered) in Conference?
The House and Senate just reached agreement on the FY 06 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill and it appears NSF will receive just over a 3 percent bump over FY 05. Details are a bit scant at the moment, but it appears NSF will receive $5.65 billion in FY 06 — that’s $10 million more than the House approved in its version of the bill, $50 million over the President’s request, and $120 million over the Senate number.
There are still a couple of unknowns at the moment — whether the agreement means CJS is safe from across-the-board cuts that are still possible, and the disposition of a transfer of Coast Guard ships to NSF that could effect the overall NSF number — but NSF is in a much better situation at the moment than most of us thought was possible at this point.
More details as they emerge….
Update (4:20 pm, 11/4): Here are some of the specific numbers (compare to this chart for previously approved House and Senate levels):
NSF Overall – $5,653.27 million. That’s 3.3 percent above FY05 and nearly one percent about the President’s request.
Research and Related Activities: $4,387.52 million. That’s 4 percent above FY05 and 1.2 percent above the President’s request.
Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction: $193.35 million. Equal to the House and Senate versions.
Education and Human Resources: $807 million. That’s equal to the House number, 9.5 percent higher than the President’s request, and includes $4 million above the President’s request for the Math and Science Partnership.
Salaries and Expenses: $250 million. 12 percent above FY05 but 7 percent below the President’s request.
Office of the Inspector General: $11.5 million
National Science Board: $4 million
An across-the-board cut still looms. The Conference appears to have exceeded its spending target for the bill, so there will likely be some across-the-board cut to repair the problem before the bill is actually filed on Monday. According to NSF, appropriations staff indicate that the cut would amount to no more than 0.3 percent at this point (which would mean NSF would lose approximately $17 million of the funding gained above), leaving them with about a 3 percent gain overall.
Even with the possibility of a 0.3 percent across the board cut, NSF fared very well — exceeding even the high mark originally laid down by the House Appropriations committee last May. Credit for this improvement in fortune has to go to the coalitions and individuals who have advocated strongly for better support for basic science even in the face of an ugly, ugly budget environment. And, of course, thanks are also owed to those members of Congress who worked hard to achieve any increase for NSF in the face of enormous pressures to cut discretionary spending. In the coming weeks we’ll single out quite a few of those members, but right off the top it’s worth passing along our thanks to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) who are the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over NSF.