Good News! The New House Bill Would Boost Funding for NASA and Science Research

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Federal scientific research groups would receive funding bumps under a new spending bill approved May 17 by an appropriations panel of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The draft fiscal year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) funding bill would add $9.78 billion to funds promoting civil rights, reducing gun violence and researching and preparing for climate change. In total, the legislation allocates $73.895 billion in discretionary budget authority – a nearly $10 billion increase over the 2019 allocations.

Agencies That Would Benefit

The National Science Foundation (NSF) would see a 7% budget increase thanks to the new House bill, and NASA would receive a 3.8% bump, according to Science Magazine.

For NSF, this would amount to $8.64 billion in funding – $561 million more than its current budget. The Trump administration, by contrast, had requested a $1 billion cut to the budget. The administration had also requested a $480 million cut to NSF research and related activities, whereas the bill would increase that funding by $586 million.

Under the House funding bill, NASA would receive an $815 million boost in funding, though the Trump administration had asked for a $480 million funding cut for the agency. NASA's science programs would receive a 3.7% funding increase, or an increase of $256 million, under the bill – contrasting with the administration's request for an 8.7% cut to funding for those programs.

Finally, the National Institute of Standards and Technology would also see a 3.7% funding increase of about $27 million, while the Trump administration had asked for a 15.5% cut. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) budget would remain roughly the same.

Why These Funds Matter

Members of the House Appropriations Committee said the scientific agencies in question play a crucial role in understanding and preparing for climate change, for which reason the funds in this House bill matter.

"This year's CJS funding bill rejects the inadequate and damaging proposals in the Trump administration's budget requests, and instead provides needed increases to the key programs in this bill," Jose E. Serrano, chair of the CJS House appropriations subcommittee, said in a press release. "We include robust funding to address climate change and support scientific research."

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey added to Serrano's comments.

"The investments in this bill would promote economic development, facilitate climate change research and mitigation, reduce gun violence and promote criminal justice reform," Lowey said in the release. "The bill provides a robust increase for the National Science Foundation. It invests in NOAA climate research activities and coastal resiliency to ensure the public and our shorelines are better protected when disaster strikes."

The Senate has not yet released its version of this bill, and if Congress and the Trump administration are unable to agree on 2020 spending before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, 2019 spending levels could extend into the new fiscal year or the government could shut down.

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About the Author

Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She covers topics including environment, education and agriculture. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, Calif., and holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University. Swanston is an avid traveler and loves jazz, yoga and craft beer.