FY23 Appropriations Update: Senate Appropriators Provide Generous Numbers to DOE Research Accounts

Continuing our coverage of the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) federal budget process, we turn to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water bill. This bill contains the budgets for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE SC) and ARPA-E, as well as funding for the Exascale Computing R&D program, for which DOE is the lead federal agency. Similar to their CJS bill, which covers NSF, NIST, and NASA, the Senate appropriators were quite generous to the energy programs, providing larger increases than the House appropriators’ mark or the President’s March budget request.

The bill proposes an 8.3 percent increase for the Office of Science over FY22 enacted levels, bringing the agency’s budget to $8.10 billion for FY23 (an increase of $625 million). That is $100 million more than the House mark and $300 million more than the President requested. Within the Office of Science, the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, which houses the majority of the computing research at DOE, would see an increase of 3.8 percent – going from $1.04 billion in FY22 to $1.08 billion for FY23.

Much like last year, that 3.8 percent increase for ASCR is deceptive and contains good news. ASCR’s research subaccounts received increases and together would increase by an average of 10 percent. However, the Exascale Computing Program, which is winding down several large construction projects, received a large 40 percent cut from its FY22 levels. But this decrease is planned, as it is what the Administration requested. So, from a research perspective, this plan is better than the overall number would suggest. This mirrors what the House appropriators did in their FY23 mark.

In the committee’s report, the Senate appropriators voiced their support for the agency’s efforts in artificial intelligence and quantum information sciences. The appropriators also spoke highly of the Office of Science’s engagement plans with HBCUs and MSIs, particularly the agency’s RENEW and FAIR programs, in order to build research capacity and further workforce development.

Finally, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, or ARPA-E, would receive $570 million for FY23, a 27 percent increase (+$120 million) in comparison to FY22. While that is slightly above the House number, it is below the President’s requested level.

FY22 FY23 PBR FY23 House FY23 Senate $ Change % Change
DOE SC Total $7.48B $7.80B $8.00B $8.10B +$625M +8.3%
ASCR $1.04B $1.07B $1.05B $1.08B +$40M +3.8%
ARPA-E $450M $700M $550M $570M +$120M +27%

Unfortunately, as mentioned with the Senate’s CJS bill, these generous numbers are not likely to be passed into law. That’s because these budgets only represent Senate Democrats’ plans and have little input or support from Senate Republicans. Because of the chamber’s 50-50 split, any legislation requires at least some minority party support in order to be passed into law. We’ll have to let the budget process play out more before we have an idea of what final FY23 numbers will look like.

In the meantime, with the beginning of the new Fiscal Year fast approaching (October 1st), a Continuing Resolution (CR) is looking to be the next step in the process. A CR would continue the funding of the Federal agencies at last year’s levels, buying Democrats and Republicans time to work on negotiations. What happens with those negotiations will depend greatly on the outcome of the Midterm Elections in November. Please check back for more updates.

FY23 Appropriations Update: Senate Appropriators Provide Generous Numbers to DOE Research Accounts