Created by on 9/19/2011 12:00:00 AM

Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its fiscal year (FY) 2012 Energy & Water Development (E&W) funding bill (HR 2354) by a vote of 28-2. The legislation includes $4.843 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE SC), a level equal to the full year FY 2011 “continuing resolution” and approximately $43 million above the House recommendation. In addition, the bill provides the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program with $250 million, an increase of $70 million over the amount approved by the House. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) were the only members of the committee to vote against the bill.

Full committee consideration followed unanimous approval by the E&W Subcommittee a day earlier. During his opening statement at the subcommittee mark-up, Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated that support for research was one of his highest priorities in the bill and argued that investment in research and development is an appropriate role of government. He also noted that the funding level for research in the FY 2012 bill is less than that recommended by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.

The bill’s accompanying report featured several statements in support of DOE SC research, including descriptions of the benefits of investments in basic research and recognition of the importance of large-scale facilities for the pharmaceutical and aerospace industries. Senate appropriators also addressed DOE SC’s ongoing work to better prioritize specific areas of basic scientific research, encouraging the agency to focus its limited investments on goal-oriented projects with measurable performance outcomes. The opening statement by Senate E&W Subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), audio-only webcasts of the subcommittee and full committee mark-ups, as well as a summary of the legislation are available on the Appropriations Committee website.