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2009 Budget: Winners and Losers

After last week's stellar stimulus bill for U.S. federally funded research, science fans have a mixed result coming from Capitol Hill this afternoon. The House of Representatives released the draft 2009 fiscal year budget. (Agencies have been working since October with a temporary budget that will expire next Friday.)  The numbers suggest that lawmakers bestowed their biggest gifts on most science agencies in the stimulus package. The bill, a compromise between House and Senate negotiators, will now go to the floor of the House and then to the Senate and may or may not be changed.

The National Institutes of Health, for example, gets $30.3 billion for this year—a 3% increase from last year, an essentially flat budget. The National Science Foundation gets a 7% increase—better than lobbyists expected given the $3 billion boost it received in the stimulus. The Department of Energy's Office of Science, however, got a whopping $4.8 billion. That's roughly $800 million more than it received last year, which means a 20% increase for the office, which funds the majority of U.S. physical science. That's on top of a $1.6 billion increase it received as part of the stimulus package.

After the jump there's a release from Senator Barbara Mikulski (D–MD), with some details on NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Along with NSF, the three agencies got a total combined increase of $1.2 billion.


February 23, 2009


Rachel MacKnight/Cassie Harvey



Strengthens commitment to climate change science

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today announced today that she continues to focus CJS funds on keeping America competitive in the global economy. The 2009 CJS appropriations bill, which this week will be considered by the House of Representatives as part of an Omnibus spending package, provides $29 billion, $1.2 billion more than last year’s enacted level, for agencies focused on science and competitiveness, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Chairwoman Mikulski has been fighting for federal investments that will strengthen America’s innovation economy for the past several years. Senator Mikulski joined several colleagues to launch plans for a legislative initiative to foster innovation in the United States immediately after the release of the 2005 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.”  The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science (COMPETES) Act was signed into law in April 2007, and authorized several of the initiatives funded in with CJS funding included in the Omnibus Appropriations Act.


Chairwoman Mikulski has delivered on her pledge to provide critical investments in scientific research and education to improve America’s competitiveness as outlined in the America COMPETES Act.

“We are creating the building blocks that we need for a smarter America. Our nation is in an amazing race – the race for discovery and new knowledge, the race to remain competitive,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. “I will continue to work for a federal investment to support the innovation that has the power to save lives, create prosperity and protect the homeland.”

The bill includes:

•             $6.49 billion for NSF, which includes $845 million for education and training programs, focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to help build our next generation of innovators.

•             $819 million for NIST, which is $183 million above the President’s budget request, and will support highly leveraged, basic research that will contribute to the development of new innovative products and processes. 


Chairwoman Mikulski’s CJS Subcommittee funds 85 percent of the science used to monitor and predict changes in our weather and climate, so researchers can make policy recommendations to help solve our climate change crisis. Chairwoman Mikulski, who criticized the last administration for its lack of commitment to reduce the effects of global warming, has included a significant federal investment in research and technology development that is critical to our understanding and prediction of changes in the Earth’s climate and oceans in this year’s spending bill. 

“The world is facing a climate crisis and we have a responsibility to provide the tools and the resources our scientists need to address this issue.  The Senate is ready to take action to halt global warming,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. “This is about the future of our country and our planet. Our future depends on the progress we make.”

Looking at the resources available across our science agencies, Chairwoman Mikulski has included funding for multiple initiatives, including:

•             $1.4 billion for NASA earth science td critical satellite missions including $150 million for new NASA earth science missions to measure our ice sheets, climate and atmosphere so we can better predict changes to our planet. It also includes $606 million for NASA to explore how the sun affects the Earth to help predict and provide warnings about events that can knock out our communications and power grids, like solar flares.

•             $966 billion  million for NOAA weather satellites, which are important early warning tools to help save lives and money, and includes funding to restore critical climate sensors that were deleted from our next generation polar satellites because of cost overruns.


In June 2006, Chairwoman Mikulski received the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative’s (JOCI) report, “From Sea to Shining Sea: Priorities for Ocean Policy Reform,” which recommended robust funding for ocean research, education, observation and exploration. Chairwoman Mikulski requested the report after organizing a bipartisan group of her Senate colleagues as part of a national initiative to increase visibility and conservation for oceans. Since its release, Chairwoman Mikulski has fought for a federal investment to implement the recommendations.

The bill provides $4.4 billion in CJS funding for NOAA programs, and increased core ocean and costal programs including $27 million for the Integrated Ocean Observing System which was a JOCI top recommendation. It also includes $46 million for NOAA education programs, including a new $8.5 million Ocean Education Grants program. 

“Oceans contribute $120 billion to our economy and support more than two million jobs. Investments to protect and understand our oceans provide enormous value to our taxpayers,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. “The JOCI report gave us a framework for future action – things we can accomplish today and tomorrow. I will continue to fight for a federal investment in these policy recommendations.”


As Congress works to promote innovation and discovery, Chairwoman Mikulski has provided critical funding to ensure that the government has the resources it needs to protect inventions and intellectual property, and enforce trade agreements. 

“We must protect the intellectual property of our inventors, who are entitled to timely access to patent protections and strong enforcement of those protections,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. 

The bill includes:

•             $2 billion for the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to protect the intellectual property of inventors. 

•             $420 million for the International Trade Administration (ITA), which includes $66 million to hire additional analysts and enforcement officers to safeguard U.S. industries and jobs against unfair foreign trade practices.

The House of Representatives will vote on the Omnibus Appropriations Act this week, with Senate action expected soon thereafter. For more information on the CJS spending bill, go to:

Rachel MacKnight

Communications Director

Office of U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski