Fermi National Laboratory

From Lewis-Burke Associates
Senate Appropriations Committee Marks Up NSF

Yesterday, the full Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and reported out their version of an FY 2005 VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act. This legislation contains funding for both the National Science Foundation and NASA. This summary will focus on NSF to be followed up later today with a summary on the Senate’s recommendations for NASA.

For NSF, the Senate Appropriations Committee is recommending a total budget of $5.74 billion – a 3% increase over the FY 2004 level. The Senate’s recommendation is equal to the President’s request and counters the House recommendation which had sought to cut the NSF request by almost $300 million to a level of $5.47 billion.

For NSF’s research and related activities account the Committee is recommending $4.4 billion, which represents an increase of 3% over last year’s level. This 3% increase should be contrasted with the 2.6% decrease recommended by the House in July for NSF research and related activities. The Senate Committee is also recommending the restoration of funding for new Science and Technology Centers – a program the House bill had zeroed out.

Unlike the House, the Senate elected to specify funding levels for each of the NSF directorates. For the research directorates, the increases provided were equal to or greater than the President’ request. For example, the Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate received an increase of 4%; the Mathematical and Physical Sciences directorate is up nearly 3%; and the Geoscience directorate grows by a little more than 2%.

The Senate bill provides the requested funding to continue the construction of Earthscope, Atacama Large Millimeter Array telescope (ALMA), and IceCube – major construction projects within the NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Account. Unlike the House, the Senate did not provide funding for the “new start” projects – including the Scientific Ocean Drilling Vessel, the Rare Symmetry Violating Processes (RSVP) project, or the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) project.

In the NSF Education and Human Resources account, the Senate provided $110 million for the Math Science Partnership program – rejecting the Administration’s request to phase out the program at the NSF. The Senate also provided increases for several undergraduate programs and informal science education – a program that assists museum and other similar institutions in their math and science education efforts.

It is not at all clear when this bill will go to the Senate floor. It is quite likely that it will ultimately be included within a larger omnibus appropriations bill later this year.

Joel Widder
Lewis-Burke Associates LLC

last modified 9/23/2004   email Fermilab