Federal Science Funding Could Increase Under New Budget Deal

Congress has increased discretionary spending caps, making it possible that the budgets of US science agencies will rise this fiscal year.

Feb 12, 2018
Shawna Williams

US currencyISTOCK, OPENMINDEDEThe budget deal signed into US law on Friday (February 9) increases the caps on nondefense discretionary spending—a category that includes science agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and NASA—by $143 billion (12.9 percent) in fiscal year 2018, and by $153 billion in 2019, reports the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). But how those funds will be allocated will not be determined until Congress passes an appropriations bill.

AAAS’s Matt Hourihan tells Science News that “Generally, research and development funding tends to track the discretionary budget pretty closely . . . most likely we're looking at a larger increase this year, and then a far more moderate increase next year. Within that context, agencies will fare better or worse based on their current popularity.”

In response to the news about the deal, which ended a very brief government shutdown, the American Chemical Society (ACS) released a statement that reads in part, “ACS is encouraged by the bipartisan budget deal that includes an increase in domestic spending over two years. ACS encourages Congress to invest heavily in scientific research and education, which are key elements of the U.S. innovation pipeline that drives job creation and economic growth.”

Defense spending caps also increased under Friday’s deal. The White House is expected to release a proposed budget today (February 12) that reflects the new funding limits. Such proposals from the president are not binding, but reflect the administration’s priorities, CNBC reports.