November 15, 2011

First Conference Report for FY12

By Christy Gullion

The House will vote this week on the final conference report on the FY12 Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science (CJS), and Transportation/Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill – also known as the “Mini-bus” (House Report 112-284). The package also contains a Continuing Resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown and continue federal operations until December 16, 2011 – or until Congress completes the remaining nine FY12 Appropriations bills. This CR is a “clean” extension and includes no new funding provisions.

Overall Funding Levels– The Conference Report upholds the overall regular (base) discretionary level of $1.043 trillion as agreed to in the Budget Control Act (BCA). The legislation also includes $2.3 billion disaster relief funding, which falls under the “disaster designation” cap set by the BCA.

Continuing Resolution – Funding for all federal programs and agencies not included in the three underlying Appropriations bills in this conference agreement will be extended until December 16, 2011. This is a date-change extension only – no other funding changes are included in the CR portion of the agreement.

Agricultural Research – The conference agreement provides more than $2.5 billion for agricultural research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This is a reduction of $53 million from the FY11 level. Highlights include:

  • AFRI funded at $264.5 million.
  • Hatch Act funded at $264 million.
  • Grants for cooperative forestry research funded at $33 million.

Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) – The bill provides $2.7 billion for the PTO – the full requested level. This amount is $588 million, or 28%, above last year’s level. The bill also includes language that allows PTO to keep and use excess fees should actual collections exceed estimates, subject to Congressional approval of spending plans.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – NIST is funded at $751 million, including an increase of $33 million above last year to support core NIST scientific research programs that help advance US competitiveness, innovation, and economic growth. In addition, funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program – which provides training and technical assistance to US manufacturers – is maintained at last year’s level of $128 million.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – The bill provides $4.9 billion for NOAA, which is $306 million (7%) above FY11 and $592 million (-11%) below the President’s request. Within this total, National Weather Service operations are funded at $903 million – $24 million above the current year – and a total of $924 million is included for the Joint Polar Satellite System weather satellite program. The conference agreement does NOT include funding to establish a new NOAA Climate Service. The Administration requested $322 million to establish this new entity within NOAA.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – NASA is funded at $17.8 billion in the conference agreement, which is $648 million below last year’s level and $924 million below the President’s request. Highlights include:

  • $5.1 billion for NASA Science programs, which is $155 million above last year’s level. The agreement accommodates cost growth in the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) by making commensurate reductions in other programs.
  • $138.4 million for NASA education research and development activities.
  • $40 million for the National Space Grant College program.

National Science Foundation (NSF) – The legislation funds NSF at $7 billion, which is $173 million above last year’s level and $734 million below the President’s request. Within this funding, NSF’s core research program is increased by $155 million to enhance basic research critical to innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness.  The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account is funded at $167.1 million, which is up $50 million from FY11.

Source:  House Rules web page, House Appropriations web page, CQ

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