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UCAR Policy Insider: April 6, 2022

Appropriations and budget review

Apr 6, 2022 - by Staff

The next few weeks and months are commonly considered the height of “appropriations season” on Capitol Hill. Below are brief summaries of where things stand with the federal budget, and important information about potential funding opportunities stemming from the administration’s landmark infrastructure package. 

FY22 Appropriations

Several weeks ago Congress passed the FY22 omnibus appropriations bill, which comes approximately six months after the start of the fiscal year. The FY22 bill included an increase of 6.7% for non-defense spending over the FY21 levels. Unfortunately the non-defense spending increases were not as large as the FY22 president’s budget had outlined, and in the end most federal science agencies saw increases in their topline funding increase in the 5% to 6% range. Some of the FY22 highlights include:

  • Providing $24 billion, an increase of $770 million, NASA with strong funding within this total for efforts to gain scientific knowledge about the Earth’s changing climate.
     
  • Including $5.88 billion for NOAA for climate research and mitigation efforts, improvements in weather forecasting, understanding sea level rise, supporting offshore wind energy, fisheries management, and STEM education.
     
  • Including $8.84 billion for the National Science Foundation, an increase of $240 million (or 4.7%) over FY21 to support climate science and sustainable research, as well as research on artificial intelligence, quantum information science, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, and other critical research efforts.
    • The line office breakdowns are not available at this time.

FY23 President’s Budget Request

The president’s FY 2023 budget proposes $813 billion for defense spending, an increase of $31.2 billion or 4%. For non-defense spending, the president’s FY 2023 budget proposes a total of $767 billion, an increase of $78 billion or 10.6%. There is already a fast-approaching debate over the topline defense spending number, and it is unlikely that the defense increase stays that low or that the non-defense spending increases stay that high. Some of the highlights of the president’s FY23 budget proposal are:

  • NSF requested nearly $10.5 billion, which is nearly $1.7 billion, or 19% more than the $8.8 billion FY 2022 enacted level.
    • This includes investments in climate and clean energy through Clean Energy Technology (CET), the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), and the development of the NSF National Discovery Cloud (NDC) for Climate.
    • For the Geosciences Directorate, the FY23 President’s Budget Request asks for almost $1.24 billion, including $301.4 million for the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences.
       
  • NOAA requested nearly $7 billion to respond to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather, which is an increase of $995 million or about 17% over the FY 2022 level of $5.89 billion.
    • The budget supports the administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, and $92 million for expanded climate competitive research grants at NOAA.
    • The Budget also asks for significant investment of $2.3 billion in weather satellites to facilitate a robust and predictable long-term funding strategy to develop new weather detection capabilities to help plan for extreme weather events.
       
  • NASA requested nearly $26 billion, which is about $1.9 billion, or an 8% increase, over the recently enacted $24 billion FY 2022 level.
    • The budget addresses the global climate crisis with $2.4 billion in Earth science and observations to make detailed climate data available to scientists and policymakers and over $500 million to reduce the climate impact of aviation. 
    • This includes funding to prototype capabilities for a greenhouse gas monitoring and information system as part of an Earth Information Center that is responsive to the needs of federal, state, and local governments and other users and is implemented in collaboration with other agencies and partners.
    • The budget also requests $760 million for heliophysics.

Next Steps

Congress will now have its say on the priorities articulated by the president in his FY23 request. Over the coming months, committees will hold hearings on the FY23 request and agencies will release their “blue books,” which further delineate spending priorities in directorates, divisions, and program offices. As is usually the case, the final budget for FY23 will likely be lower than what the president has requested. 

Build.Gov

Last November, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill provided approximately $848 billion in funding for agencies to support 375 programs characterized by infrastructure type (including over 125 new programs) included in the law. The bill provides funding for programs to help rebuild various infrastructure areas. Over the past few months, multiple agencies that received money in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Pub. L. 117-58)  have developed funding opportunities to support activities related to transportation; climate, energy, and the environment; broadband; and various other programs. These opportunities include:

  • Transportation
    • Roads, bridges, and major projects
    • Passenger and freight rail
    • Public transportation
    • Airports and Federal Aviation Administration facilities
    • Ports and waterways
    • Safety
    • Electric vehicles, buses, and ferries 
       
  • Climate, energy, and the environment
    • Clean energy and power
    • Water
    • Resilience 
    • Environmental remediation
       
  • Broadband equity, access, and deployment

To highlight these opportunities, the administration has created a website, build.gov, and a guidebook to allow users to see what future funding opportunities are available, who to contact, and how to get ready for the programming and upcoming funding. There is also detailed information about key dates, programs by agency, key issue areas, and eligible recipients. The guidebook and further details surrounding these funding opportunities can be found here.  

 

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