Congress Passes $1.3 Trillion FY2018 Omnibus Spending Bill; Includes NASA, NOAA (Update)

Congress Passes $1.3 Trillion FY2018 Omnibus Spending Bill; Includes NASA, NOAA (Update)

Despite loud complaints about the lack of time to read it, the House and Senate passed the FY2018 omnibus appropriations bill in record time.  The bill was released by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday evening, passed the House Thursday morning, and passed the Senate just after midnight Friday.  It now goes to the President.  He is expected to sign it.  The bill funds most government agencies through the end of FY2018 on September 30, 2018. [UPDATE, March 23, 2:30 pm ET:  President Trump has signed the bill into law.]

The House Appropriations Committee released the bill, H.R. 1625 as amended, Wednesday night. It is more than 2,000 pages long.  The “omnibus” or “consolidated” bill combines funding for most government agencies.  NASA and NOAA are in Division B, Commerce-Justice-Science.

The House Rules Committee met at 10:00 pm ET Wednesday night to write and approve the rule for the bill’s consideration.  The House narrowly approved the rule Thursday morning by a vote of 211-207.  It then proceeded with one hour of debate, as allowed by the rule, and passed the bill about 12:30 pm ET by a vote of 256-167.

It then went over to the Senate, which passed it almost exactly 12 hours later, at about 12:40 am Friday, by a vote of 65-32.

The bill provides $1.3 trillion in spending for FY2018, which began on October 1, 2017.  Hence, the fiscal year is almost half over, which could create a challenge for agencies to adjust their spending to account for increases or decreases.

NASA will get $20.7 billion, approximately $1.1 billion more than it received for FY2017 and $1.6 billion more than the Trump Administration requested.

NOAA’s satellite programs will get $1.857 billion, which is less than the $1.979 billion it received for FY2017, but that is due in part to the fact that its two largest programs, GOES-R and JPSS, have passed their peak funding years.  The amount in the appropriations bill is almost $300 million more than the $1.579 billion requested by the Trump Administration, an increase primarily for NOAA’s next two polar-orbiting weather satellites.

Note:  This article was updated following the Senate vote.  The original title was “House Passes…” rather than “Congress Passes…”.

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