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Science Policy Insider: June 3, 2021

Updates on FY22 appropriations, NSF budget, NOAA and OSTP nominees, Endless Frontier Act, and more

Jun 3, 2021 - by Staff

FY22 budget and appropriations update: The White House released its full FY22 budget request at the end of May, but fully detailed budget request information for each agency is being rolled out separately. With the release of the president’s budget request, the House Appropriations Committee will soon begin to draft its FY22 appropriations bills and has announced that markups will begin on June 24. The committee hopes to move all 12 bills through the House floor in July, likely in groups or “minibuses” as it did last year. Expected votes on the president’s infrastructure proposals during these two same months could affect this schedule. The Senate Appropriations Committee likely will not start working on its appropriations bills until late July or even after the August recess.

NSF budget update: The National Science Foundation (NSF) released its detailed budget justification for FY22, which proposes a $1.7 billion increase for the agency overall. The proposed overall increase for the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) would be 19% over FY21, with the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences receiving a 20.5% increase. The proposal also includes an increase in the number of research grant proposals, as grant competitions related to climate change are anticipated, as well as an increase in the number of people involved in GEO activities. GEO already provides 57% of the federal funding for basic research at academic institutions in the environmental sciences. Also included in the budget proposal is an increase to the NCAR base funding. This is just the latest step in a lengthy budget process that will include input and changes from both the House and the Senate in the coming weeks before any numbers can be considered final.

NOAA and OSTP nominees: Rick Spinrad, the nominee to lead NOAA, sailed through his confirmation hearing, though he is still waiting to be confirmed by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee before the Senate can vote on his nomination. Additionally, the Senate confirmed Eric Lander to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

NSF Endless Frontier Act update: The Senate combined the Endless Frontier Act, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), with other pieces of legislation developed by several Senate committees that aim to address future U.S. competitiveness and economic needs. This package, which includes a bill to reauthorize NASA’s programs and budgets, is now called the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260). The bill failed to reach a final vote before the Memorial Day break. Senators will resume debate on the bill once they are back in session next week. A similar bipartisan bill, the National Science Foundation for the Future Act (H.R. 2225) was introduced by House Science, Space, and Technology Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) in March and is pending a markup at Full Committee in the coming weeks.

NASA Earth System Observatory: NASA announced that it will design a set of Earth-focused missions through a new Earth System Observatory to provide key information to guide efforts related to climate change, disaster mitigation, fighting forest fires, and improving real-time agricultural processes. The observatory follows recommendations from the 2017 Earth Science Decadal Survey by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The FY22 NASA budget request proposes to boost funding on Earth science missions and research by $250 million, or 12.5% over last year’s level.

Earth Prediction Innovation Center: NOAA announced last month that Raytheon Intelligence and Space has been chosen to design and develop the Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC), an extramural center which is intended to unite academia, industry, and government to help create a user-friendly and user-accessible comprehensive Earth modeling system. The award comes several years after Congress codified EPIC and further called for NOAA to accelerate community-developed scientific and technological advances to its operational numerical weather prediction in the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2018.

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