HR 244: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017

More than seven months after the start of the fiscal year, Congress finally completed its work on 2017 appropriations. The House of Representatives passed the spending bill with the bipartisan support of 309 Representatives; most of the 118 Representatives who opposed the legislation were Republicans. The Senate passed the bill in a vote of 79 to 18.

Notably, the spending deal does not include most of President Trump’s recent budget requests. There is no funding for a border wall nor massive increases in defense spending at the expense of non-defense programs, although the Pentagon will receive a $15 billion increase.

Science programs were largely spared from the sharp cuts the Trump Administration had sought. A summary of science spending included in the current package:

  • Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy: +5 percent
  • Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: +7 percent
  • Agricultural Research Service: -6 percent
  • Department of Energy Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research: +0.5 percent
  • Environmental Protection Agency, Science and Technology: -4 percent
  • Forest Service, Forest and Rangeland Research: -1 percent
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services: +0.4 percent
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Science: +3 percent
  • National Institutes of Health: +6 percent
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: -2 percent
  • National Science Foundation: +0.1 percent
    • Research and Related Activities: flat
    • Education and Human Resources: flat
    • Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction: +4 percent
  • Smithsonian Institution: +3 percent
  • U.S. Geological Survey, Ecosystems: -0.3 percent

Some senior lawmakers questioned whether it was worth it to kick the metaphorical can so far into the fiscal year when appropriations bills could have passed months ago with bipartisan support. Lawmakers elected to wait until the spring to finish 11 of the 12 appropriations bills so that the new president could provide input.

“I don’t think much has been achieved by this other than we’re racing around here at the last minute when we shouldn’t have been,” said Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that more than 160 “poison pill riders” were removed from the spending package. Environmental issues, women’s health, and immigration were among the contentious issues negotiated.