By Laura Szymanski, GSA Science Policy Fellow and Kasey White, GSA’s Director for Geoscience Policy

The Administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request throughout March, more than a month after the scheduled release date due to delays from the shutdown and finalizing the FY 2019 process.

As has been the case with each of the budgets released by the Trump Administration, science would see large cuts under the request in FY 2020 compared to FY 2019 enacted.  The request includes:

  • $7.1 billion, a 12.5% reduction to the National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • $984 million, a 15.3% reduction to the United States Geological Survey (USGS)
  • $5.5 billion, a 16% reduction to the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science and elimination of the the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) with direction to use the unobligated funds to close out this program by 2022.
  • $4.5 billion, an 18% reduction to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • $6.1 billion, an overall 31.2 % reduction to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with $4.6 million, a 34.5% reduction to the EPA’s Science and Technology division
  • $21 billion, an overall 2.2% reduction to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), with $6.3 billion, a 9% reduction to the Science Mission Directorate, which includes an 8%, 5%, and 20% reduction to Earth Science, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics, respectively, and no funding for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite, or the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder instrument, and an elimination of the Office of STEM Engagement, formerly know as the Office of Education.

Congress rejected proposed cuts in fiscal years 2018 and 2019. FY 2019, which was finalized 15 February 2019, saw modest increases for most science agencies- and large increases when compared to the president’s request.

Thus far, congressional hearings indicate that Congress is not supportive of these large cuts, but a budget deal to raise the caps will be necessary to provide the room for them.  The Budget Control Act of 2011 was put into place to address the US debt and puts budget caps on discretionary spending through FY 2021. For FY 2020, those caps are $ 55 billion or 9% below FY 2019 levels.  In 2018, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 was passed that allowed for an increase in discretionary spending in FY 2018 and FY 2019.  The House has taken action to raise the budget caps for FY 2020 by adopting a ‘deeming’ measure to increase discretionary spending, but ultimately any measure will need to be agreed to by all of Congress, including the Senate, and the Trump Administration.

GSA’s Laura Szymanski and Monica Gown following meeting on Capitol Hill to discuss geoscience funding and appropriation bills.
GSA’s Laura Szymanski and Monica Gowan following meeting on Capitol Hill to discuss geoscience funding and appropriation bills.

GSA has been actively advocating for science funding on the Hill.  GSA’s Director for Geoscience Policy, Kasey White, testified in support of the USGS on 26 February 2019 and GSA submitted testimony in support of the NSF and NASA.  GSA has also signed onto letters submitted to Congressional leadership led by coalitions, such as a letter led by the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) urging Congress to reach a “two-year bipartisan agreement that increases the spending caps for discretionary programs”.  Furthermore, Kasey White; GSA’s Science Policy Fellow, Laura Szymanski; and GSA’s Geology and Public Policy Committee (GPPC) Chair, Monica Gowan, have all participated in meetings with Senate and House appropriators and key staff of Congressional appropriation committees to advocate for raising the budget caps and geoscience science funding.

The House and Senate are expected to begin markup of appropriation bills in May and GSA will continue with outreach efforts to encourage federal investment in science.