UPDATE: Minibus Appropriations Passes House

UPDATE: Minibus Appropriations Passes House

UPDATE: The Senate Appropriations Committee just tweeted that the Senate is scheduled to pass this bill tonight between 7:00 and 7:30 pm, instead of tomorrow.


The “minibus” appropriations bill that includes NASA, NOAA, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) passed the House this afternoon.

The vote was 298-121.

The bill, H.R. 2112, combines three FY2012 appropriations bills: Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS), and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD). NASA, NOAA and OSTP are in the CJS bill; FAA and its AST are in the T-HUD bill.

Information on funding levels for NASA that are contained in the bill are shown in our NASA FY2012 budget request Fact Sheet. Overall, the agency received $17.8 billion, $924 million below the President’s request, but about $1 billion more than the House Appropriations Committee approved earlier this year.

NOAA received $924 million for its Joint Polar Satellite System compared to its request of $1.07 billion. The bill does not include funding for NOAA to reorganize internally and create a NOAA Climate Service as the administration requested. Overall, the bill provides NOAA with $4.9 billion, a cut of $582 million from the President’s request, but $400 million more than the House Appropriations Committee approved.

OSTP received $4.5 million, instead of the $6.65 million requested, and the bill includes language prohibiting NASA or OSTP from engaging with China unless certain conditions are met. The House Appropriations Committee had approved cutting OSTP even more (to $3 million) to punish OSTP Director John Holdren for meeting with Chinese officials even though the FY2011 appropriations bill prohibited such meetings without congressional authorization.

FAA’s AST received $16.3 million, just over half of the $26.6 million request, but $3.3 million more than the House Appropriations T-HUD subcommittee recommended.

The House never voted on the CJS or T-HUD bills. The CJS bill was reported from the House Appropriations Committee (H. Rept. 112-169), but theT-HUD bill did not get even that far. It was acted upon only at subcommittee level in the House. Nonetheless, the House and Senate agreed to negotiate over the final spending levels in the Senate-passed version of H.R. 2112, expediting the bill’s route through Congress.

The Senate is expected to approve the bill tomorrow, which would give certainty to the agencies it covers as to their FY2012 funding levels. The rest of the government, however, would continue to be funded under a new Continuing Resolution (CR). The current CR expires tomorrow. The new CR is included in H.R. 2112 and funds the remaining government agencies, including DOD, through December 16, 2011.

The President is expected to sign the bill tomorrow as well, since the current CR expires at midnight Friday.

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