July 31, 2023
FY24 Commerce, Justice, Science Funding Status Report
On July 13, the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) voted 28-1 to approve the FY24 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill (S. 2321). One day later, the House CJS Subcommittee approved its CJS bill. A House Appropriations Committee (HAC) markup of the bill has not been scheduled. More account detail is available on the SAC-approved bill report (S. Rpt. 118- 62) and accompanying tables. When the House holds its committee markup, it will post a report and tables, but for now many details regarding program funding, Community Directed Funding, and other priorities remain under wraps.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Murray (D-WA) based SAC subcommittee allocations on the FY24 caps set in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA). Overall, the SAC CJS bill would provide $73.1 billion, $10.3 billion (or 12%) below the FY23 enacted funding level, and $19.5 billion less than Biden’s FY24 Budget. The House subcommittee mark totals $58.4 billion, which is $24.9 billion (or 30%) below the current level, and $34.2 billion below Biden’s FY24 Budget. Overall, the Senate and House have a gap of $14.6 billion between their proposed funding levels. Chart I (on page 9) compares the FY23 enacted level with the FY24 request and discretionary funding for the major agencies in the bill.
Senators drafted a bipartisan bill that funds both Democratic and Republican priorities and avoids political landmines that have challenged deliberation of the CJS bill in the past. Subcommittee Vice Chair Moran (R-KS) added his support at the markup, noting that “in accordance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, this bill reduces spending by $1.3 billion. This fiscally responsible bill includes essential resources to further our nation’s priorities in scientific innovation, law enforcement and economic development.”
This strong, bipartisan bill will help keep our supply chains running smoothly, spur economic development in states across the country, send Americans to the Moon again, and make sure we keep our foot on the gas when it comes to research into technologies of the future like AI, quantum computing, clean energy, and more.
SAC Chair Murray (D-WA),
The Senate tone and content contrasts with the House version of the bill, which is starkly partisan. HAC states that the proposed bill includes policy language that “ends the abuses of power at the Department of Justice” and reins in the FBI. The House bill includes several funding prohibitions that will be strongly opposed by the Biden Administration and Democrats. For example, a provision in the HAC bill would prohibit any use of funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Center of Excellence in Climate Change, for climate change fisheries research, for the NSF U.S. Global Change Research Program, or for the NSF Clean Energy Technology program.
On the funding side, the HAC subcommittee bill cuts funding by $25 million or 30% overall from the FY23 level and eliminates more than 70 programs. On July 14, Subcommittee Chair Rogers (R-KY) noted several highlights within the funding totals provided: “this bill prioritizes the Drug Enforcement Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Science Foundation, while freezing, reducing, or eliminating funding for non-essential activities.” HAC Ranking Member DeLauro (D-CT) commented, “House Republican cuts in their 2024 Commerce, Justice, Science bill defund law enforcement, science, and rural development – all while opening the door for the wealthiest individuals and corporations to cheat on their taxes.”
Below are highlights of the Senate and House bills that focus on research, development, and technology. Most of the details are from the Senate committee report released on 7/13. At press time, few details other than top-line funding numbers are available for the House.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NOAA: The Senate bill includes $6.51 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), $158 million over the FY23 level. SAC provides $224 million for climate research at NOAA and a $200 million increase to maintain current generation and build next generation weather satellites. Improved weather forecasting capabilities is at the leading edge of improved climate resilience.
The HAC bill includes $5.43 billion for NOAA, a cut of $922 million from FY23. This leaves the House and Senate nearly $1.1 billion apart with significant climate research policy differences. The SAC bill directs funding for several mapping or modeling priorities:
$8 million for Geospatial Modeling Grants, and directs that the funding be distributed outside of NOAA; $10 million for the NOAA Center of Excellence for Operational Ocean and Great Lakes Mapping; $2 million for ocean and coastal mapping centers; and $32.5 million for charting navigationally significant areas. The Senate bill also provided $42 million for the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), the network used for marine information in disaster response, weather forecasting and hurricane prediction.
SAC includes direction to improve improving fire weather modeling, prediction, detection, and decision support tools. The challenges posed by very large data sets are also highlighted in SAC direction for the NOAA Environmental Security Computing Center, with an eventual goal to integrating a portion of NOAA’s climate and weather data at the Center to allow access for commercial use. The Senate notes high performance computing priorities for NOAA.
High Performance Computing.—The Committee recognizes NOAA’s high performance computing needs and its current limitations on providing high-fidelity results in near real-time and provides $60,000,000 …[and] no less than $5,000,000 is to develop artificial intelligence systems and optimize software to support preprocessing of dense observation datasets.
S. Rpt. 118-62
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY (NIST)
For NIST, the Senate bill includes $1.45 billion, while the House mark would provide $1.48 billion. Those are, respectively, decreases of $153 million and $150 million from FY23 levels. Within the overall funding level, the Senate increases NIST measurement labs by 7%, to $68 million, for research focused on carbon dioxide removal, artificial intelligence, quantum information science, and cybersecurity. The Senate includes $175 million for the Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) to improve competitiveness of domestic manufacturers and strengthen domestic supply chains; the House provides $200 million for MEP.
The Senate includes language directing funds for Quantum Information Science and cybersecurity research, outreach, and industry partnerships, including the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE). SAC also addresses Artificial Intelligence and sets a requirement for NIST to “develop standards, metrics, and tools for government, corporate, and academic uses of AI to train and test systems, model AI behavior, and compare systems.” The Senate Committee encourages NIST to bolster the technology foundations and put in place the practical steps needed to ensure the security and integrity of the technology supply chain, in partnership with the private sector.
Although the $1.48 billion proposed for NIST by the House subcommittee is an overall decrease of $150 million from FY23, several NIST programs would be increased over FY23 levels. The HAC provides $1.0 billion for Scientific and Technical Research and Services, a $67 million increase over FY23; $237 million for Industrial Technology; and $200 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a $25 million increase over FY23.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION (EDA)
The Senate bill would provide $466 million for community economic development through EDA and includes $41 million for EDA’s Regional Technology and Innovation Hub Program for planning grants and supporting investment in public-private partnerships. The Biden budget included $804 million for EDA, the House just $255 million.
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION (NASA)
The SAC bill provides $25.0 billion for NASA, the same as the FY23 funding level, and $2.1 billion under the Biden FY24 Budget. The House level is a slightly higher, at $25.4 billion, an increase of about $400 million from current levels, and $1.8 billion below the Biden budget request. The HAC majority noted the bill prioritizes NASA funding, with a focus on the Artemis program “to advance American leadership in Space and counter China’s malign ambitions.”
The Senate highlights its support of NASA cybersecurity efforts and funds NASA’s proposed IT model shift aimed at prioritizing strong governance and information security practices.
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (NSF)
The Senate bill provides $9.5 billion for NSF, $39 million below the current level and $1.8 billion below the budget request. The NSF would receive $9.6 billion from the HAC subcommittee bill, an increase of $971 million over the current level, and $1.7 billion below the Biden budget request. SAC directs that NSF place high priority on quantum science, AI, and high-performance computing.
For quantum science, SAC directs that $185 million be provided to support activities for the National Quantum Initiative Act and $50 million for the National Quantum Information Science Research Centers.
SAC encourages NSF to facilitate major advances in high-performance computational capabilities, including artificial intelligence, storage, quantum computing, simulations, and data analyses that enable a broad range of scientific research. The Senate directs NSF to develop a future funding plan with the goal of expanding access to world-class research computing to scientists nationally. The SAC report directs NSF to focus on AI workforce development and outreach to various colleges to increase the pipeline of diverse students graduating with AI and data literacy.
The Committee supports continued investment in quantum science as fundamental, transformative research that can position the United States as a leader in emerging fields of economic and scientific importance.
S. Rpt. 118-62
Both the Senate and House address CHIPS Act and state their intentions to provide the full funding made available by the Act. SAC provides $10.989 billion in new funding to continue implementing the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (Public Law 117–167). HAC does not specify an amount, but similar to the Senate it directs the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the National Science Foundation to allocate the full amount of FY24 CHIPS funding to the recipient agencies promptly and sets oversight requirements.
To set expectations for the Commerce-Justice-Science bill, go back two months to the June 3 Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), which caps FY24 funding at $1.590 trillion ($886 billion for defense and $704 billion for nondefense). The terms of the FRA mean a 5% cut or more for non-defense functions. SAC is marking to the FRA levels (and additional emergency funding). Under pressure from House GOP leadership, House Appropriations Committee Chair Granger (R-TX) set subcommittee allocations well below the FRA levels and rejected discussion of supplemental spending.
The new constrained outlook for FY24 contrasts with the March Biden Administration budget, which was developed before the debt limit negotiations put a cap on FY24 appropriations. Big spending in the President’s FY24 budget request will be severely curtailed, but even in a divided Congress, expect year-end FY24 funding agreements to prioritize transformative scientific and tech initiatives.