House Releases Draft Ag, CJS Appropriations Bills; Some Details Still Unclear

In the weeks leading up to the Independence Day recess, several House Subcommittees began their work for fiscal year (FY) 2018 in earnest by marking up draft appropriation bills, including the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (June 28) and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) (June 29).  While the text of the draft bills has been released, it is unlikely that their accompanying committee reports, which include more detailed information on funding and policy riders, will be made available until just before the bills are marked up by the full Appropriations Committee. Once that information is released, COSSA will produce a full analysis of both bills. Preliminary details on the House FY 2018 CJS and Agriculture bills follow.

The draft FY 2018 CJS appropriations bill, which the subcommittee marked up on June 29, includes $7.3 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a $133 million cut compared to FY 2017 but 10.3 percent more than the amount requested by the Trump Administration. Most of the subaccounts within the NSF budget, including the Research and Related Activities account, would be flat compared to FY 2017. The exception is NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account, which would be cut by 62.8 percent compared to FY 2017. The bill’s proposal for the Census Bureau would provide it with $1.507 billion in FY 2018, an increase of $37 million more than the amount enacted in FY 2017 and $12.6 million above the Administration’s requested amount. Within that amount, $1.251 billion is provided for Periodic Censuses and Programs, which includes the 2020 Census, an increase of $51 million compared to FY 2017. The bill would also provide the Bureau’s Periodic Surveys and Programs with $256 million, a $14 million cut compared to the FY 2017 enacted level.

The House’s FY 2018 appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which was approved by the subcommittee on June 28, largely accepts the Administration’s proposed cuts to USDA statistical agencies (see COSSA’s full analysis of the President’s budget request). The bill would provide $76.8 million to the Economic Research Service (ERS), a roughly $10 million or 11.5 percent cut compared to FY 2017. This amount is 0.1 percent more than the amount requested by the President. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) would receive a total of $183.8 million, 1.2 percent less than the amount request by the Administration and an increase of 7.3 percent from FY 2017. NASS will conduct its Census of Agriculture in 2018 and the increase is part of a scheduled ramp-up. While the House bill would provide NASS overall with less than the amount requested by the Administration, it would allocate more of that money to Census of Agriculture activities, leaving even less funding available for NASS’ other Agricultural Estimates programs. While the total discretionary funding level proposed for the National Institute of Agriculture (NIFA) is not detailed in the draft legislation, the bill does specify a total of $830.4 million for NIFA’s Research and Education Programs, which include the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). This amount is a 2.3 percent cut from FY 2107, but 7.9 percent more than the President’s request.

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