The House June 3 approved a $51.4 billion Commerce-Justice-Science fiscal year (FY) 2016 spending bill. The House passed the bill (H.R. 2578) as amended by a 242-183 vote. Twelve Democrats voted for the bill while 10 Republicans voted against it.
For the National Science Foundation (NSF), the bill provides $7.394 billion, an increase of $50 million (0.7 percent) above the FY 2015 level.
The White House June 1 issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) strongly opposing the bill and threatening a veto. The SAP states, "The bill drastically underfunds critical investments in research and development that are key to advancing U.S. economic competitiveness...."
The SAP cited funding for specific programs and, more broadly, the bill’s discretionary funding being capped at the sequester level. Net discretionary funding in the bill is $1.3 billion (3 percent) above the FY 2015 enacted level, but is $661 million (13 percent) below the president's budget. The administration has pledged to veto any funding bills at the sequestration level.
"The Administration strongly objects to the $7.4 billion funding level provided for NSF. This level is $329 million below the FY 2016 Budget request. The bill would lead to about 600 fewer research grants, affecting about 7,900 researchers, technicians, and students," the SAP states.
The SAP also notes, "Especially hard hit by this reduction would be the geosciences and social, behavioral, and economic sciences, which would be reduced by 20 percent. The Committee's allocation of resources to specific disciplines would interfere with NSF's ability to respond to scientific opportunity."