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Washington Update: February 3, 2020

FY21 budget requests, bill supporting science and technology research, NASA authorization

Feb 3, 2020 - by Staff

Implementation of FY20 appropriations and roll out of FY21 budget requests: Federal science and mission agencies continue to work behind the scenes to develop their spending plans for the funding approved by Congress for the current fiscal year (FY20). These plans must be submitted to the House and Senate Appropriations committees in the coming weeks to explain how the agencies intend to apply increases or decreases to programs based on congressional direction and to request congressional approval for any proposed major changes. In addition, the release of the FY21 budget requests are expected next week, on Feb. 10. Most most agencies will see few if any proposed increases, given the small increase between the FY20 and FY21 budget caps (0.4%).

House bill would support federal space and technology research: Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), the top Republican on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, recently introduced comprehensive legislation targeting what he views as “two fundamental challenges” to the nation’s strength and global competitiveness: climate change and the potential for other countries to outpace us in science and technology. The Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act mandates the development of a national science and technology strategy with improved coordination among federal agencies and enhanced investments in America’s research and facilities. Co-sponsored by 11 House Republicans, the 232-page bill would double basic research funding over the next decade at the Department of Energy (DOE), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The proposed legislation also directs NOAA and DOE to collaboratively conduct climate and atmospheric science modeling and research, and it supports efforts to improve weather forecasting at NOAA, including an assessment of how the agency can work with other federal counterparts to tap into relevant supercomputing resources.

NASA authorization bill: The House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics marked up a draft NASA authorization bill last week that would move back the target for human lunar exploration to 2028 (from 2024). The bill would impose some “significant constraints" on its approach to lunar exploration, according to Administrator Jim Bridenstine, including a directive that the human lander system for the Artemis moon program be "fully government-owned and directed" as opposed to the commercial path NASA has chosen. The Senate passed their version of the bill in November, which has numerous differences with the new House bill.

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