The 4% increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Alexandria, Virginia, in the 2018 omnibus spending bill hammered out by congressional leaders this week may be modest next to what its peer science agencies received. But it does offer NSF officials more breathing room to fund some major initiatives starting next year.
Under the 2019 budget request that President Donald Trump unveiled last month, NSF would have been forced to find money for those new initiatives within a budget that had been flat for the previous 2 years. But the new agreement, which could become law by tonight, gives NSF a $295 million raise over 2017 with only 6 months remaining in the current 2018 fiscal year.
Within the agency total of $7.767 billion, NSF’s research directorate would get a $301 million increase, to $6.33 billion. That new money comes with only one string attached: a $10 million bump, to $171 million, for NSF’s long-running program to help scientists in 28 have-not states and U.S. territories do better in competing for NSF funding. The agency can decide how to allocate the rest of the money.