On May 20, the House Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations bill by voice vote. Amendments to increase funding for the National Science Foundation and make other improvements to the bill were either defeated or withdrawn. The bill now heads to the House floor.
The CJS bill totals $51.4 billion, which is a 2.5 percent increase over the FY 2015 CJS bill. CJS Subcommittee chairman John Culberson (R-TX) noted during the May 14 Subcommittee markup that this amount “is sufficient to fund essential programs.” The bill keeps within the spending caps currently tamping down discretionary spending, making the FY 2016 appropriations bills even more challenging than usual. President Obama has threatened to veto any appropriations bill that adheres to these caps, making the House CJS bill a non-starter with the White House.
While the National Science Foundation would see a small increase in the House proposal, the real winner in the bill is NASA, which happens to be a favorite of the chairman. The heavy focus and emphasis on NASA is one of the visible changes we are seeing with the new chairman, who replaced Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), a long-time, staunch supporter of NSF, this year. NSF is largely downplayed in the House CJS bill when compared to recent years. As you will read in our analysis, the FY 2016 CJS bill differs from previous bills in several other ways as well.
In general, agencies and programs that support social and behavioral science research would fare quite poorly in the bill. Among the many challenging provisions, the bill seeks to limit support for social science research funding at NSF, would enable potentially deep cuts to the National Institute of Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics, and would degrade the American Community Survey within the Census Bureau.
Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the bill.