July 23, 2020

Science Sees Slight Uptick in House Spending Bills: Part 2

Posted by Caitlin Bergstrom

Amid negotiations for further relief packages surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the House Committee on Appropriations finished consideration of the major science funding bills, including the spending bills that fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation. Following on to our previous post, we will detail the spending and programmatic highlights for federal Earth and space science agencies.


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Science Foundation (NSF)

(In millions of dollars, rounded to the nearest million)


FY20 FY21 PBR FY21 AGU Request FY21 House $ Change from FY20 % Change from FY20
NASA $22,629.00 $25,246.00 $22,629.00 $0.00 0%
NOAA $5,352.18 $4,634.03 $6,061.89 $5,454.07 $101.89 1.90%
NSF $8,278.33 $7,741.40 $9,000.00 $8,548.34 $270.01 3.26%



Highlights from Bill and Committee Report:


  • The Committee strongly rebukes the Administration for eliminating key Earth Science decadal missions “that address human-induced forces regarding climate change.”The Committee provides full funding for the Carbon Monitoring System, PACE, and CLARREO.
  • The appropriation provides funding for two designated observables missions as recommended by the Earth Science Decadal survey. 
  • The Committee directs NASA to work with industry on ways for small satellites to procure more tailored launch services.
  • The Committee endorses the mid-term decadal survey recommendation for NASA to develop a comprehensive Mars program plan.
  • As in past year, the bill does not eliminate the STEM Engagement office and provides $126 million for NASA STEM initiatives.



  • The Committee provides NOAA $1.7 million to further its work on addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment within the Agency and directs NOAA to expedite the hiring of staff to reduce these risks and to provide assistance and counseling to victims. 
  • NOAA is reprimanded by the Committee, which found “the request to reduce[National Ocean Service] funding by 36 percent as compared to fiscal year 2020 to be dramatically inappropriate.” 
  • NOAA is provided an additional $3.5 million above FY20 for the Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC) and is directed to continue efforts to advance and accelerate forecasting improvements that are accessible to the public and community based. 
  • The Administration’s proposals to eliminate funding for the National Climate Assessment, the Tsunami Warning Program and Arctic research are all rejected. All three programs are funded at FY20 levels. 
  • $1.5 million is provided by the Committee to commission the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to undertake the inaugural decadal survey of the U.S. weather enterprise. 



  • The bill provides $205 million for the EPSCoR.
  • The report includes language encouraging NSF to “consider change in the North Atlantic sector of the Arctic and resultant impacts on communities in North America” in developing research programs within the Navigating the New Arctic initiative. 
  • The Committee directs NSF to prepare a report on artificial intelligence and bias.
  • The bill provides $70.6 million for mid-scale research infrastructure.
  • The bill expresses concerns about the under participation in STEM by African Americans and Hispanics; and urges NSF to increase grant funding opportunities and outreach to the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions. 



Next Steps

The House Committee on Appropriations powered through all twelve spending bills, which will next go to the full chamber for consideration on the House floor. The end of the fiscal year is looming, and it is expected that once the bills pass the House a continuing resolution will be needed to prevent a government shutdown if the Senate does not take action on their spending bills and reach a compromise with the House before 30 September.


How Can You Contribute?

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only had a significant impact on congressional and federal agency operations, but on each of our lives. AGU is working to make our engagement with Congress more impactful, and we need your help. Tell us how COVID-19 is impacting you, your science, and your community. Personal examples and stories resonate best with legislators.