Congress Looks to Increase Federal Spending on Research and Development

Congress Looks to Increase Federal Spending on Research and Development
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With the beginning of new federal fiscal year fast approaching on 1 October, Congress is still working on annual appropriations bills in response to the President’s FY 2022 budget request. The House has approved nine of the twelve annual appropriations bills, with Senate action underway. But Congress has only met the 1 October deadline four times since 1977. Congressional leaders are unlikely to allow a government shutdown and will almost certainly finalize an FY 2022 budget before recessing later this year. Continuing resolutions are expected to keep the government running until Congress can act on a consolidated budget bill, through the reconciliation process, that will allow Democrats to sidestep the 60-vote threshold in the Senate for a simple majority vote.

The House appropriations bills, as amended, allocate $169.4 billion — an increase of just over 7 percent — to federal research and development (R&D). This is a substantial increase over FY 2021, but less than what is allowed under the so-called “deeming” resolution adopted in the House to set the limits on overall federal spending. It is also approximately $3 billion less than President Biden’s FY 2022 budget request for R&D. The House bills largely follow the President’s requests for development and research facilities, but trims funding requested for basic and applied research.

Whether and to what extent the President’s overall R&D priorities will be funded in the final FY 2022 appropriations remains to be seen. A quick overview of the President’s priorities follows:

President Biden’s budget request for FY2022 included approximately $171.3 billion for research and development (R&D), $13.5 billion (8.5%) above the FY2021 estimated levels. When adjusted for inflation, the President’s FY2022 R&D request represents an increase of $10.6 billion (6.6%).

Under the President’s request, nearly all federal agencies would see R&D funding increase relative to FY 2021, except the Department of Defense, whose R&D budget would drop 0.9% or $550 million to $62.8 billion. Large increases were slated for health-related research at the Department of Health and Human Services (up 17.8% or $7.7 billion); energy-related research and support for the Office of Science’s portfolio of physics and advanced computing research in the Department of Energy (up 11.1% or $2.1 billion); and space-related R&D at NASA (up 10.1% or $1.3%). Smaller R&D budgets saw even larger percentage increases at the Department of Commerce (NIST/NOAA) (up 29.3%), the Department of the Interior (up 30.8%), and the Department of Agriculture (up 21.7%). The National Science Foundation was budgeted at $10.2 billion, an increase of 19.8% over FY 2021 enacted, with NSF’s research directorates increasing by 17.8%.

Broken down by function, the President’s FY 2022 budget request would increase overall funding for basic research by $4.4 billion (10.2%), applied research by $6.3 billion (14.0%), development by $2.4 billion (3.6%), and R&D facilities and equipment by $380 million (9.0%). The outlook for the cross-agency federal initiatives in nanotechnology, networking and information technology, and climate research remains uncertain.

On 27 August, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a joint memorandum with the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) outlining the President’s priorities to agencies working on FY 2023 budget requests. Priority was put on multi-agency R&D efforts related to pandemic readiness and prevention, climate change, catalyzing innovation in critical emerging technologies (with a focus on artificial intelligence [AI], quantum information science [QIS], advanced communications technologies, microelectronics, high-performance computing, biotechnology, robotics, and space technologies), innovation to improve equity in American society, and national security (including investments in improving our national economic resilience.

A copy of the OMB-OSTP memo can be reviewed at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/M-21-32-Multi-Agency-Research-and-Development-Prioirties-for-FY-2023-Budget-.pdf


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