NASA, DOJ take hits in fiscal 2012 budget package

House Appropriations Committee releases Commerce-Justice-NASA spending legislation

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope program would be terminated, a new Commerce Department weather satellite would be funded only partially, and the Justice Department’s state and local grant programs would be cut by 39 percent under a fiscal 2012 spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee on July 6.

The committee released a summary and data tables for the complex bill on its website. The $50 billion legislative package includes funding for the Commerce and Justice departments, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and several other agencies.

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Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), the committee's chairman, said the spending bill represents an overall reduction to those agencies of 6 percent below fiscal 2011 levels and 3 percent below fiscal 2008 levels.

“Given this time of fiscal crisis, it is also important that Congress make tough decisions to cut programs where necessary to give priority to programs with broad national reach that have the most benefit to the American people,” Rogers said in a statement. He added that the package preserves funds for law enforcement, counterterrorism, science and job creation.

NASA is one of the hardest-hit agencies in the bill. It is slated for $16.8 billion, which is $1.6 billion below the fiscal 2011 level. The bill includes $4.1 billion for space operations, a 32 percent reduction from the $5.5 billion NASA received last year.

NASA’s science programs would be funded at $4.5 billion, which is a 10 percent cut from last year. Funding would be eliminated for the troubled James Webb Space Telescope program, which is overbudget. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) called the termination a “shortsighted and misguided move” in a statement released today.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would receive $4.5 billion under the bill, which is a $103 million reduction from the fiscal 2011 level. The bill includes $430 million for the Joint Polar Satellite System, which represents partial funding for the new weather satellite initiative. President Barack Obama had requested $688 million.

At the Justice Department, state and local grant programs would be reduced to $1.7 billion, down from $2.8 billion in fiscal 2011. Grants for programs to reduce violence against women and for missing and exploited children were maintained at last year’s levels. However, the department’s administrative expenses were reduced by 39 percent from last year’s levels, from $118 million down to $72 million. The bill funds the department at $26 billion, a decrease of $1 billion from last year.

Other highlights of the spending bill:

  • The Commerce Department would be funded at $7.1 billion, which is $464 million under the fiscal 2011 level. The package fully funds the requested levels for International Trade Administration, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and National Weather Service operations, the committee said.
  • Commerce's Economic Development Administration would receive $258 million, $26 million below the fiscal 2011 level.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology would receive $701 million under the bill, which is $49 million less than the fiscal 2011 level.
  • The Census Bureau’s budget would drop to $855 million, down from $1.1 billion in fiscal 2011.
  • The FBI’s budget would increase to $8.1 billion, up by $149 million from fiscal 2011. It would include money for national security programs, investigations of computer attacks, programs related to weapons of mass destruction, analyst training, and violent crime and gang reduction programs.
  • The National Science Foundation would maintain its current level of funding at $6.9 billion.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.


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