Senate Budget Numbers
The Senate Appropriations committee released their “302(b) allocations” and it looks like science does very well. We previously discussed the House 302(b)’s here and the Senate’s numbers look as good, or better, than the House numbers.
The Senate Commerce, Justice, Science subcommittee received $54.4 billion, $1 billion more than the House allocation and more than $4 billion more than FY07. The Energy and Water subcommittee received an increase of $1.9 billion over FY07, a $600 million more than the House allocated for this year.
The Labor/HHS/Education subcommittee received a $4.7 billion increase, the only subcommittee allocation to be lower than the House allocation but still an increase of almost $9 billion more than the President’s request.
As we’ve stated here before, these allocations don’t guarantee that the funding will keep Congress on the path to doubling the budgets of NSF, NIST, and DOE Office of Science over the next 10 years, as planned. But if the House’s appropriations committee bills are any indication, that is where we are heading. Of course, given the disparity between some of the allocations, there will probably be some compromises worked out in conference but even if we get the lower numbers allocated for each subcommittee, we’ll still be in a good position with increased funding in all our areas.
A bigger concern at the moment is whether the appropriations process is going to continue to move or if it’s headed for meltdown over the disposition of earmarks in some upcoming bills. At the moment, House Republicans and Democrats have reached a tentative truce that will keep the bills moving, but it wouldn’t take much for the process to break down again. At issue is a Democratic plan to bring appropriations bills to the House floor without earmarks included, then add them in conference with the Senate. House leaders argue that appropriations staff haven’t yet had time to review the 32,000 requests for earmarks (keep in mind, there are only 435 members of Congress…that’s an average of 74 requests per member), so rather than delay the bills, they want them to move and they’ll add the earmarks later. House Republicans argue that the plan hardly promotes transparency in the earmarking process and were using procedural motions to tie up the bills until the Dems agreed to allow the House to vote on the bills with earmarks present — though not in all of the bills. The House this week should finish work on the Homeland Security and Military Construction appropriations bills, and those will not see their earmarks added until the conference. The Energy and Water appropriation also will not have earmarks in it when it reaches the floor, but will get a pack of earmarks added to it before it heads over to the Senate. If the deal holds, the remainder of the appropriations bills will have earmarks included when the bills hit the House floor (and therefore, subject to amendment). We’ll have all the details as the bills begin to move.