UPDATED: Senate Approps Approves Defense, CJS Bills, but CR Looms

UPDATED: Senate Approps Approves Defense, CJS Bills, but CR Looms

UPDATE: The committee now has posted the reports to accompany the four bills it approved yesterday. This article has not been changed to reflect that additional information, but a new article will be posted soon.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved four FY2012 appropriations bills yesterday, including defense and Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS). The latter includes NASA and NOAA. Congress is far from completing action on the 12 appropriations bills needed to fund the government after midnight September 30, however, so a Continuing Resolution (CR) is inevitable.

The Senate Appropriations Committee still has not posted details of what is in the defense or CJS bills. What is known publicly at the moment is that defense was frozen at last year’s level of $513 billion, $26 billion less than requested and $17 billion less than what the House approved. NASA’s budget was reduced to its FY2009 level of $17.9 billion, $509 million less than its current spending level and $785 million less than the request, but $1.1 billion more than what the House Appropriations Committee approved. The Senate committee not only restored funding for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), but provided more money than NASA requested so that it could be launched in 2018. The House Appropriations Committee voted to terminate JWST because of its cost overruns. The House has not yet considered the CJS bill; it only has been approved at the committee level.

Where the Senate committee cut the NASA FY2012 request is not publicly known yet.

NOAA fared better overall in the Senate committee’s markup than in the House committee, but funding for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is about the same. The House committee cut NOAA’s budget request of $5.5 billion to $4.5 billion; the Senate committee approved $5 billion. The Obama Administration requested $1.07 billion for JPSS as part of the NOAA budget. The House committee approved $901 million; the Senate committee approved $920 million.

In total, House has passed six of the 12 annual appropriations bills and the Senate has passed one. With FY2011 quickly drawing to a close, House Republicans — who sharply criticized Democrats during last year’s elections for not being able to complete work on the appropriations bills in a timely manner — are conceding that they will not either. They are proposing a CR that would last through November 18 and includes an across-the-board cut of 1.5 percent from current levels according to a summary posted on the House Appropriations Committee’s website.

Note: This article has been clarified to indicate that the amount approved by the committee for NASA is $509 million less than its FY2011 spending level of $18.448 billion. It is $775 million below the FY2012 request of $18.724 billion.

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