Federal Science Partners Periodic Update

House-Senate Conference Agreement Released for Six of Seven Unfinished FY 2019 Appropriations Bills – On Thursday evening, January 17, the House Appropriations Committee posted copies of the conference agreements for six of the seven unfinished appropriations bills for FY 2019.  Posted was both the agreed upon final bill language for these appropriations bills along with the explanatory statement (conference report) that normally accompanies each bill that resolves differences between the original House and Senate versions of these bills.  The only bill not posted is the Homeland Security bill.  The remaining six bills are packaged together into one single appropriations measure as HR 648, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019.  The House is expected to take up HR 648 much as they have done with the omnibus appropriations act and a number of individual appropriations acts in the last week or two, pass it, and then send it to the Senate.  This is all part of a larger strategy to try and end the current shutdown situation.  At some point when the shutdown situation is resolved, the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the explanatory statement, when passed by the Congress and signed by the President, will likely constitute the final funding and related guidance for agencies and programs for the balance of FY 2019.  When that will actually occur remains uncertain.  Below is a summary of some of the key agencies and programs contained within this new Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 by section of title.

Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Conference Agreement – The CJS title of the Consolidated Appropriations Act includes funding for NOAA, NSF, NASA, OSTP, the rest of the Department of Commerce, and other agencies.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – For NOAA the agreement includes a total $5.4 billion for FY 2019 which is $872 million more than the Administration’s request.  NOAA operations, research and facilities will increase to $3.6 billion which is $61 million more than FY 2018 and $659 million more than the request.

National Ocean Service operations are to be funded at $581.6 million, 3.6% above last year.  Within that total, Navigation, Observations and Positioning would be funded at $156.5 million, 1.5% above last year, the IOOS program grows by 10% with $1.5 for regional ocean partnerships or their equivalent to enhance capacity for sharing and integration of Federal and non-Federal data to support regional coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes priorities as outlined in Executive Order 13840, coastal science, assessment, response % restoration is funded at $77.5 million which is about 3% above FY 2018, the related competitive external research program grows to $18 million of which $5 million is for harmful algal blooms research in marine and freshwater habitats, coastal zone management grants is funded at $75.5 million instead of being zeroed out as requested by the Administration, the Coastal Zone Management program is funded at $43.5 million, and the Title IX (coastal resilience grants program) is funded at $30 million instead of being terminated as requested by the Administration.  Marine debris funded is increased by $500K over last year.  The Coral Reef program is funded at $27.6 million, a 4% increase over FY18, Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas is funded at $55.5 million, a 2% increase over FY18, and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System is funded at $27 million, 8% over the FY18 level.

The National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) operations are funded at $908.8 million which is about 3% over FY 2018.  This funding includes the restoration of the Prescott grants program, modest increases in enforcement and training for IUU related activities.  NMFS Aquaculture is funded at $15 million, a 6% increase over FY 2018.

Within the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), the agreement includes $525 million for research, operations and facilities in lieu of the Administration’s request of $296 million.  Total OAR climate research is funded at $159 million instead of the requested $99 million including $38 million for regional climate data and information; the National Sea Grant College Program is funded at a total of $80 million of which $12 million is for marine aquaculture.  The Administration had proposed to terminate the Sea Grant program for FY 2019.  The conference agreement also includes $5.5 million for NOAA’s participation in the National Oceanographic Research Partnership program and $13 million for continued support for integrated ocean acidification research.  The U.S. Weather Research Program is funded at $13.1 million while the related Joint Technology Transfer Initiative is funded at $20 million.  Funding for the OAR Labs and Cooperative Institutes was also maintained:  the climate Labs Cis are funded at $61 million; the Weather Labs and Cis are funded at $86 million; and the Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Labs and Cis are funded at $36 million.

Within the National Weather Service overall operations are funded at $1 billion, about 1% over last year.  The National Mesonet Program is funded at $19 million, the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) is fully funded at the request level, and the conference agreement provides an additional $1.5 million for National Water Center operations.

NOAA Education programs are funded at a total of $28.5 million including $7.5 million for BWET regional programs; $16 million for NOAA Education Partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions; and $5 million for NOAA’s Education program base.  This is in lieu of the Administration’s proposal to terminate all NOAA education activities.

National Science Foundation (NSF) – The conference agreement provides NSF with a total of $8.1 billion, a 4% increase over FY 18.  Within this total, the agreement provides Research and Related Activities (RRA) with $6.5 billion, a 3% increase over FY18.  The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Account is funded at $295.7 million which includes $127 million for continuing the construction of three Regional Class Research Vessels along with the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and $103.7 million for the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science (AIMS) project.  By providing the funding for AIMS in the MREFC account, as proposed initially by the Senate, instead of the RRA account as proposed by the Administration, this frees up about $100 million for additional research activities.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – The conference agreement provides NASA with a total of $21.5 billion or 4% more than FY 2018.  NASA Science is up by 11% to $6.9 billion of which $1.9 billion is for earth science; $2.8 billion for planetary science, 24% increase over FY 18; $1.2 billion for astrophysics including $98.3 million for Hubble and $45 million for education and public outreach.  The agreement provides $312.2 million for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) and $304.6 million for the James Webb Space Telescope.  The agreement also adjusts the spending cap for JWST to $8.8 billion, an increase of $802.7 million to accommodate recent cost overruns and schedule delays.

Interior-EPA Appropriations Conference Agreement

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – The conference agreement provides the USGS with a total of $1.2 billion, this is $301 million more than the Administration’s request and $12 million more than FY 2018.  Within this overall total: the National Geospatial Program is funded at a total of $69.5 million which is $1.6 million over last year and $18.6 million more than the Administration requested; National Cooperative Geological Mapping is funded at $24.4 million which is $2 million more than the request; Water Resources Research Act Program is funded at $6.5 million, the same amount as FY 2018; Earthquake Hazards is funded at $83.4 million, $32.4 million more than the Administration’s request; Volcano Hazards is funded at $30.3 million, $8 million more than the request; and Landslide hazards is funded at $3.5 million. The National and regional climate adaptation centers program is funded at $25.3 million which is $12.3 million more than the request.  In Core Science Systems, the agreement provides an increase of $1.5 million for 3D Elevation Program National Enhancement and a total of $7.8 for Alaska Mapping and Map Modernization.  Mineral and energy resources is funded at $89 million which is $9 million more than last year and reflects growing concerns with availability and processing of critical minerals.  Within this total amount the agreement provides $9.6 million for a new Three-Dimensional mapping and Economic Empowerment program.

Transportation-HUD Conference Agreement

Federal Railroad Administration Research and Development -- The bill provides $40,600,000, to remain available until expended, for railroad research and development. This amount includes $2,500,000 to improve safety practices and training for Class II and Class III freight railroads; $2,000,000 for tank car research related to the safe transportation of energy products in partnership with other Federal agencies; and up to $5,000,000 for partnerships with qualified universities for research on rail system safety, capacity and efficiency, of which $1,000,000 is for research with universities on intelligent railroad systems.

Senate Commerce Committee Announces Reorganization – On January 17 the new Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), presided over an executive session of the committee in which a new subcommittee structure was approved.  Senator Maria Cantwell will serve as the new Ranking Minority Member of the committee.  The new subcommittee structure reorganizes results in a reshuffling of issues under the committee’s jurisdiction along with new Senators being named as Subcommittee chairmen.  Under the new structure there will be a:

  • Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet – Sen. John Thune (R-SD);

  • Subcommittee on Aviation and Space – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) – including the FAA and NASA;

  • Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety – Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) – including DOT, FHWA, NHSTA, FRA, etc.;

  • Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection – Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS);

  • Subcommittee on Security – Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) – to focus on the intersection of economic and national security; and

  • Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather – Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) – including NSF and NOAA.

House Appropriations Committee Announces Democratic Membership for Subcommittees – On January 16, House Appropriations Chair Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced the Democratic rosters for the 12 appropriations subcommittees for the new Congress.  The 12 subcommittees and their chairs are:  Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies – Rep. Sanford Bishop, Jr. (GA); Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies — Rep. José Serrano (NY); Defense — Rep. Pete Visclosky (IN); Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies — Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH); Financial Services and General Government — Rep. Mike Quigley (IL); Homeland Security — Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA); Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies — Rep. Betty McCollum (MN); Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies — Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT); Legislative Branch — Rep. Tim Ryan (OH); Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies — Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL); State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs — Rep. Nita M. Lowey (NY);  and Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies — Rep. David E. Price (NC).

On January 15, House Appropriations Ranking Minority Member, Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) announced the Ranking Minority Members for the 12 appropriations subcommittees including: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration – Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE); Commerce, Justice, Science – Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL); Defense – Rep. Ken Calvert (CA); Energy and Water Development – Rep. Mike Simpson (ID); Financial Services and General Government – Rep. Tom Graves (GA); Homeland Security – Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (TN); Interior and Environment – Rep. David Joyce (OH); Labor, Health and Human Services, Education – Rep. Tom Cole (OK); Legislative Branch – Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA); Military Construction and Veterans Affairs – Rep. John Carter (TX); State Department, Foreign Operations – Rep. Hal Rogers (KY); Transportation, Housing and Urban Development – Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL).

The announced membership of House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee includes:

Democrats                                                                  Republicans

Rep. José Serrano (NY) — Chair                           Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL)

Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA)                                       TBA

Rep. Grace Meng (NY)                                             TBA

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI)                                    TBA

Rep. Charlie Crist (FL)                                               TBA

Rep. Ed Case (HI)                                                       TBA

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH)

Rep. Nita M. Lowey (NY) — Ex Officio

The Democratic rosters for all 12 House appropriations subcommittees can be found here.

Rosters Announced for Senate Appropriations Subcommittees – On January 14, Chairman Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Member Senator Leahy (D-VT) announced the membership of the 12 Senate appropriations subcommittees for the 116th Congress.  The complete roster for each Senate subcommittee can be found here

The membership of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds NSF, NOAA, NASA, OSTP, and other agencies includes:

Republicans                                                                 Democrats

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chairman                        Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ranking

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)                                   Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)                                      Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)                                         Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)                                     Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)                                        Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)                          Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Barry Myers Re-nominated to Lead NOAA – The last Congress failed to bring the nomination of Barry Myers as the next NOAA Administrator to a confirmation vote prior to its adjournment.  The Administration has just renominated Mr. Myers along with many other prior nominees whose confirmations were not completed prior to adjournment of the last Congress.  Mr. Myers has announced that he has resigned his position as CEO of Accuweather, Inc. and sold his interest in the company in an effort to address conflict-of-interest concerns.  Also renominated is Dr. Christopher Fall to be Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy.