Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Ellen Kuo
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
All FY 2024 Spending Bills Enacted; President’s Budget Released

On March 3, negotiations were completed on the long-awaited following spending bills, six months after the start of fiscal year (FY) 2024: 
  • Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024;
  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024;
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024;
  • Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024;
  • Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024; and
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024.
The other six spending bills, including Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS), and related agencies bill, were expected to be released on March 17, before the March 22 deadline was reached in the continuing resolution (HR 7463, P.L. 118-40), which was enacted into law on March 1. The continuing resolution extended the original two-tiered expiration dates of March 1 for four spending bills (Agriculture, Military Construction, Energy and Water, and Transportation-HUD) to March 8 and the March 8 deadline for the remaining eight to March 22. However, text was completed for the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Interior, Environment bills and they moved up for faster consideration under the March 8 deadline. 

Appropriators released the text of the first six spending bills for FY 2024 for floor consideration on March 6. They were considered under suspension of the rules in the House and then passed by the Senate and signed into law. Under this law, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is to receive $9.06 billion for FY 2024, an 8 percent ($810 million) cut compared to the FY 2023 funding level including emergency supplemental funding. Of the total FY 2024 amount for NSF, $7.176 billion goes to Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account, where NSF is to equitably distribute funding to support all basic research directorates with R&RA, as well as the Technology, Innovation and Partnerships Directorate. 

The agreement also provides $250 million for the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, and encourages  NSF to invest in research to better understand how and why models arrive at their outputs and support the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource pilot to increase access to the computing resources needed for AI research. 

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education receives $1.172 billion, especially for regions of the country that have historically faced challenges such as lower educational attainment and higher rates of poverty. NSF is encouraged to support funding for programs that create partnerships between NSF and local community colleges to promote STEM education.

The Government Accountability Office must conduct ongoing reviews of major research equipment and facilities construction at the NSF and report to the Appropriations Committees on a semiannual basis. The agreement urges the NSF and other agencies to work with the Office of Management and Budget to reduce printing and reproduction costs.

Furthermore, the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE SC) is to receive $8.24 billion in FY 2024, a 1.72 percent ($140 million) increase compared to FY 2023. DOE SC is also required to provide quarterly briefings on its actions to progressively move to fully funding research awards of $2.5 million or less. 

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative receives $445.2 million in FY 2024, which is a cut of $9.8 million or (2.19%) from the FY 23 enacted level. Funding for the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research program was set at $943 million, available until September 30, 2025, which is a 2.94 percent ($27 million) increase compared to FY 2023. There is also bill language to ensure adequate funding for prosthetic research specifically for female veterans. In addition, VA is directed to use $46 million from the Toxic Exposures Fund to support medical and prosthetic research activities related to toxic exposures in FY 2024. 

The fate of the remaining six FY 2024 spending bills became known on March 20 when the text of those measures was finally released. As expected, the LHHS bill was included in the second package and provided the National Institutes of Health with $300 million (0.6 percent increase) in new funding, including increases in discretionary funding to nine of the individual institutes and centers. There was also a $50 million cut to the Common Fund within the Office of the Director. The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health received $1.5 billion, the same level as FY 2023. 

House approval of the second FY 2024 appropriations package came via a 286-134 vote on March 22. The Senate approved the package the next day, by a vote of 74-24 and President Biden signed it into law the same day.