Science Policy & Funding News

Newly Passed Spending Bill Boosts Science Funding

The new spending bill that Congress passed today provides an increase in funding for NASA, USGS, NOAA, and more.

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This morning, Congress passed a bipartisan $1.1 trillion spending bill for fiscal year (FY) 2016 that offers significant across-the-board funding increases to science agencies. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

The omnibus bill, which includes all 12 appropriations bills, funds the rest of the current fiscal year through 30 September 2016.

With these new funds, “science-related agencies will be relieved from the disruption of damaging cutbacks, program delays, and costly shutdowns once the bill is enacted, allowing them to carry on with their important work,” said Christine McEntee, chief executive officer and executive director of the American Geophysical Union.

Science Funding Increases

The spending bill includes $5.8 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is $325 million above the FY 2015 enacted level, a 5.97% increase. It also includes $19.3 billion for NASA, up 7.08% from the FY 2015 enacted level, even more than the 2.9% increase that the president had originally requested. Notably, the omnibus bill includes a 13.43% increase for NASA’s Planetary Science Division. The language of the bill encourages NASA to direct $175 million toward a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, including a landing component.

“The president and Congress have sent a resounding message: Space is bipartisan,” said a NASA statement issued Thursday, the day after the House Appropriations Committee introduced the bill. “With a $19.3 billion investment in NASA’s work, the FY 2016 omnibus bill will further NASA’s Journey to Mars and position us to return the launches of American astronauts to American soil within the next couple years,” the statement added.

The bill allocates $1.062 billion to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), up 1.6% from the FY 2015 enacted level. This includes an additional $1 million for USGS’s $26 million volcano hazards programs. The bill also allocates $7.5 billion to the National Science Foundation for FY 2016, an increase of $119 million (1.62%) from the FY 2015 enacted level.

The bill was passed without policy riders that included language restricting clean-air efforts and language to block agencies from using climate change–related science to inform policy decisions (a rider is a provision added to a bill that doesn’t necessarily relate to the bill’s contents).

—JoAnna Wendel, Staff Writer

Citation: Wendel, J. (2015), Newly passed spending bill boosts science funding, Eos, 96, doi:10.1029/2015EO042217. Published on 18 December 2015.

© 2015. The authors. CC BY-NC 3.0