More Details on Pending Senate Spending Bill

Over the weekend, the Senate released more details about its proposal to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year that was reported on Friday. Although there is no specific mention of the U.S. National Institutes of Health's overall budget in the bill, called a continuing resolution (CR), an accompanying chart indicates that NIH would remain at its current, 2010 level of $31 billion. The House CR passed last month would cut NIH's budget by $1.6 billion. That’s 5% below the current level.

The National Science Foundation would be funded at $6.8 billion. That figure is actually $75 million below its current level, according to NSF officials, and a whopping $1 billion below what the president requested for the agency in 2012.

The Senate would give a vote of confidence to the Department of Energy’s new, blue-sky research agency. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would receive $200 million under the bill. In contrast, the House-passed bill would zero it out. The president has requested $550 million for ARPA-E in 2012. And although it would still be reduced, DOE’s Office of Science, which funds basic research across many disciplines, would be treated much better than in the House version. The office would receive $4.73 billion in the Senate version versus $4.0 billion in the House version. Its current budget is $4.9 billion, and the president’s 2012 request is for $5.4 billion.

NASA’s space science program would receive $4.82 billion. That’s up $320 million from current spending levels but down roughly $200 million from the president’s 2011 and 2012 requests for those programs.

The Senate may vote on the bill as early as tomorrow, although it is not expected to receive enough support to win passage. Agencies are now funded under a CR that expires on 18 March.

See our 2012 Budget coverage.

*This item has been corrected 12 April. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the House's proposed $1.6 billion cut in NIH's budget was 5% below the president's 2011 request.

Posted in Funding Budget 2012