Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill -- The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and reported out an energy and water bill on July 20th that differs from the priorities of House lawmakers and President Trump.  Approved by a 30-1 vote, the $38.4 billion measure would provide record levels of funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which the Administration and the House Appropriations Committee would eliminate.  The measure would provide ARPA-E a record budget of $330 million, and increase of $24 million over the FY 2017 level.  The bill would provide record levels for DOE's Office of Science ($5.55 billion) and provide higher funding for applied energy programs than called for by the administration.  

Within the Office of Science, the Senate bill recommends $2 billion for basic energy sciences compared to the $1.55 billion requested by the President.  Within Biological and Environmental Research (BER) $633 million is provided including report language the encourages DOE to increase funding for academia to perform climate model studies that include the collection and evaluation of atmospheric data sets from satellite observations.

DOE's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs — which the Administration sought to reduce by 70 percent — would receive $1.9 billion, lower than the $2.1 billion provided last year but far above the $636 million called for in the President's proposal.  The manager's amendment, which passed via a voice vote, includes an amendment from Senators Alexander and Feinstein to expend appropriated funds for critical research on environmental science. An amendment from Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) calls on DOE to utilize investments through existing "regional capabilities" such as universities.  

Funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers national coastal mapping program was funded at $6.3 million which is equal to the Administration’s request and the House’s recommendation.  Finally, the Senate bill notably differs from its House counterpart in that it does not include a provision to exempt the Administration's repeal of the Clean Water Rule from the Administrative Procedure Act.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce-Justice-Science Scheduled to Mark Up – On Tuesday July 25th the Senate Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to mark up its version of the FY18 CJS Appropriations bill.  This bill contains funding for NSF, NOAA, NASA, OSTP, and NIST.  It is worth noting the Senate CJS Subcommittee is working with an allocation of $53.4 billion, which is $500 million below the House allocation for this same bill and $3.2 billion below the FY 2017 level for this subcommittee. The decrease in the Senate CJS allocation is justified by maintaining disbursements from the Crime Victims Fund at the three-year average. Overall, the full Senate Appropriations Committee is working with a total full allocation of $1.07 trillion ($551 billion for defense and $518 billion for non-defense – the same levels enacted for FY 2017).  The total allocation the Committee is using is about $5 billion more than the current statutorily set spending caps – meaning the Committee is advocating for the Congress to enact legislation at some point to raise the FY18 spending cap to something closer to the FY17 level.