FY23 Appropriations Update: House Appropriators Provide Heathy Increases for NSF, NIST, NASA; Will They be Passed into Law?

[Editor’s Note: This post was written by CRA’s Tisdale Policy Fellow for Summer 2022, Dalton Hellwege.]

In our continuing series looking at the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget, we turn to the House Appropriations Committee and their Commerce, Justice, and Science bill. This piece of legislation is of great interest to the computing community, as it contains the budgets for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among other federal science agencies.

NSF, which funds 79 percent of all Federal support for fundamental computing research at American universities, fares well in this bill. Under the House’s plan, NSF’s topline budget would receive $9.63 billion, an increase of $790 million (+8.9 percent) over the FY22 number ($8.84 billion). While not as generous as the President’s 19 percent requested increase from March, it is still a good number for the agency and demonstrates that NSF still maintains the confidence and support of key members of Congress.

Digging a little deeper into the details of the House’s plans, the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account, home to NSF’s research portfolio, would receive $7.71 billion for FY23. That would represent a $510 million increase over FY22 enacted levels (+7.1 percent). The Directorate for Education & Human Resources account (EHR), soon to be renamed the Directorate for STEM Education (EDU) (the name gets approval from House Appropriators in this bill), would receive $1.25 billion or a $240 million increase from FY22 (+24 percent).

While these numbers are objectively good, it’s worth noting that all of the House Appropriations Committee’s marks are below what the Biden Administration requested in their budget plan in March.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House $ Change % Change
NSF Total $8.84B $10.50B $9.63B +$790M +8.9%
R&RA $7.20B $8.43B $7.71B +$510M +7.1%
EHR/EDU $1.01B $1.38B $1.25B +$240M +24%

Looking at policy items in the Committee’s report, there are several topics of interest with regard to NSF. First, the Committee voiced their support for the newly created TIP Directorate and provided, “no less than $170 million for the Regional Innovation Engines” program. Additionally, the Committee supports the agency’s efforts in artificial intelligence, QIS, and high-performance computing, providing funding up to the President’s request in these areas. The Committee also accepted the agency’s plans and requested budgets for NSF’s CyberCorps, Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and a number of other broadening participation efforts at the agency.

With regard to the other research agencies in this legislation, the big winner is the National Institute of Standards & Technology’s (NIST). It would receive a significant increase under the House’s plan, going from $1.23 billion in FY22 to $1.47 billion in FY23, a $240 million dollar increase (or +20 percent). Likewise, the Science and Technical Research and Services (STRS) account, where the majority of the agency’s research is housed, would see a nice increase to $953 million for FY23. The STRS FY23 number is $103 million more than the number from FY22 (+12.1 percent). While the House’s mark for NIST is below the President’s requested budgets for the agency, they are not significantly so.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House $ Change % Change
NIST Total $1.23B $1.48B $1.47B +$240M +20%
STRS $850M $975M $953M +$103M +12.1%

Finally, looking at NASA’s budget, the space agency would receive $25.5 billion, an increase of $1.5 billion from FY22 (+6.3 percent). The agency’s Science account would receive $7.91 billion, an increase of $310 million from FY22 (+4.1 percent). Both of these budget lines are similar to NIST: below President Biden’s budget request but only marginally.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House $ Change % Change
NASA Total $24.00B $26.00B $25.50B +$1.50B +6.3%
Science $7.60B $7.99B $7.91B +$310M +4.1%

The CJS bill was approved by the Full Appropriations Committee on June 28th and is now waiting to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. After that, we must wait and see what happens in the Senate; it is unclear when they will act on their own CJS bill. Final resolution of all the FY23 appropriation bills is unlikely until after the November 2022 elections, and the results of those elections will likely dictate when the bills (or single omnibus bill, or some combination) will get a final vote. Please keep checking back for updates.

FY23 Appropriations Update: House Appropriators Provide Heathy Increases for NSF, NIST, NASA; Will They be Passed into Law?