Important Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Report Regarding the FY 2020 Budget Environment

Important Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Report Regarding the FY 2020 Budget Environment – On August 15 the non-partisan CBO released a key report required by law that provides estimates of the caps or limitations on discretionary spending for each fiscal year through FY 2021.  The Budget Control Act of 2011 established limits on discretionary budget authority for fiscal years 2019 through 2021 and automatic procedures (sequestration) to reduce the funding allowed for discretionary and mandatory spending through 2021. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 canceled the automatic reductions in discretionary funding for 2019 and set new caps for 2019 that are $152 billion higher than they would have been if the automatic reductions had occurred. Those revised caps are $647 billion for defense programs and $597 billion for non‑defense programs.

The caps on discretionary spending established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 were set to total $1,208 billion in 2020 and $1,234 billion in 2021. Under current law, the automatic procedures will reduce those caps: for 2020, by $90 billion (or 7.4 percent) and for 2021, by $89 billion (or 7.2 percent), according to CBO. Under current law, the reductions for 2020 and 2021 in the caps for defense programs will be proportionately larger than the reductions in the nondefense caps. The defense cap will shrink by $54 billion (or about 8.5 percent) in each year and the nondefense cap will shrink by $36 billion in 2020 and by $35 billion in 2021—cuts of about 6 percent.

NOAA Announces Funding Opportunity:  Sustainable Fisheries in a Changing Climate -- NOAA's Climate Program Office is partnering with NOAA Fisheries to announce a call for proposals for interdisciplinary research on the social and economic impacts of changing oceans on fishing communities along the northeast U.S. coast. The funding opportunity is part of NOAA’s joint Climate and Fisheries Research Program to better understand climate impacts on the nation’s valuable marine fish stocks and fisheries. Letters of intent are due September 10 and full proposals are due November 20.

National Academies Announces the Initiation of a Report on the Future of the U.S. Weather Enterprise -- The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are planning to conduct a study that will outline a vision for the U.S. Weather Enterprise over the next 10-25 years and are reaching out to the weather community both to participate in the study and to help support it.  Discussions of how to improve weather forecasting capabilities in the United States bring many challenges and opportunities to the forefront. Many questions have been raised during the last decade about how federal agencies support weather modeling, to what extent efforts at different agencies are coordinated, how best to coordinate federal efforts with the private and academic sectors, and how to ensure education and training keeps pace with technological innovation.  The weather community will be engaged to develop a vision for the U.S. weather enterprise, identify a set of goals for advancing the enterprise during the next decade, and recommend critical investments, institutions, and coordination mechanisms to make rapid progress towards meeting these goals. Existing agency missions, laws and other Congressional guidance, strategic plans, and reports (e.g., research agendas, observational priorities) will serve as a foundation for the committee's analysis. Drawing upon a robust community engagement process, an ad hoc committee will author a consensus report addressing the following items: describe the weather enterprise today; consider how the weather enterprise may change in the next few decades; develop a comprehensive ideal vision of a robust and successful weather enterprise for the next decade and beyond; and recommend key steps to enable the weather enterprise to achieve the vision.  More information on this study and the ways the National Academies intend to engage with the weather enterprise on this study can be found here.

Senate Commerce Committee to Hold a Hearing on Pipeline Safety in the Great Lakes -- Senator Gary Peters will convene a field hearing titled, “Pipeline Safety in the Great Lakes: Incident Prevention and Response Efforts at the Straits of Mackinac,” on Monday, August 20th, in Traverse City, Michigan. The hearing will focus on federal oil spill prevention efforts, preparedness and response capability in the event of an oil pipeline break in the Straits of Mackinac. Line 5, the 65-year-old pipeline crossing the Straits of Mackinac, has been the subject of multiple safety concerns, including damage from anchor strikes.  Senator Peters is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and serves as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security. The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the federal agency tasked with overseeing pipeline safety throughout our nation’s extensive pipeline system, including the Great Lakes. It also has jurisdiction over the U.S. Coast Guard, which plays a leading role in overseeing the federal and state response to oil spills, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which provides scientific support for oil spill prevention, response and restoration.  More information on this hearing can be found here.

Senate HELP Committee to Hold Hearing on NIH Science and Stewardship – On Thursday, August 23, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing to discuss prioritizing cures in health research as well as science priorities and stewardship issues at the NIH.  Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the NIH will be the witness.  The hearing will start at 10AM in Room 428 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  Additional information and video link to watch the hearing can be found here.