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Appropriations Updates

Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill

(H.R. 5326)

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Washington, May 8, 2012 | comments

The Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill provides $51.1 billion in discretionary and mandatory budget authority for fiscal year 2013. The funding in the bill is 3.1% below FY 2012 levels and 1.4% percent below the President’s request and the Senate Appropriations Committee’s reported FY 2013 level.

The spending levels in the bill do not exceed the 302(b) allocations adopted by the Appropriations Committee, which are in aggregate within the overall spending level approved by the House in the Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res. 112).

Table 1

This measure provides funding for entities such as the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation as well as the numerous bureaus and agencies under the control of each respective unit.  Key activities funded in this bill include:

Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). The Patent and Trademark Office is a fee-funded entity within the Department of Commerce whose charge is to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries.  This bill provides $2.9 billion in funding to the PTO for FY 2013 which represents an increase of 9.5% over FY 2012 levels.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This bill appropriates just over $5 billion to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, an increase of 1.4% over FY 2012 levels and 1.8% below the President’s request.  The total includes an additional $22.3 million above the requested level for the National Weather Service.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This bill includes over $8.25 billion in funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is an increase of 1.8% over the FY 2012 enacted totals and an increase of almost 2.5% over the requested FY 2013 levels.  The increase includes additional funding for national security programs, the investigation of cyber-attacks, and violent crime and gang reduction programs.

U.S. Marshals Service. The U.S. Marshals Service is funded at approximately $2.8 billion by this bill.  This represents an increase of 2.5% over FY 2012 funding.  Included in the appropriation are $1.65 billion for Federal prisoner detention.

Federal Prison System. The bill provides $6.9 billion for the Federal Prison System, an increase of 3.8% over FY 2012 enacted funding and an amount equal to the President’s requested level.  Additional funding will be used to activate recently completed prison facilities and for the construction or acquisition of a prison within the United States to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  NASA receives funding of $17.6 billion in this bill which represents a decrease of 1.1% from FY 2012 and is 0.8% below the President’s requested level.  Included in the funds are $3.7 billion for Exploration activities, $4 billion for Space Operations, and $5.1 billion for Science programs.  The $4 billion for Space Operations is a decrease of 5% from FY 2012 levels and reflects the continued closeout of the Space Shuttle Program.

National Science Foundation.  The National Science Foundation is funded at $7.3 billion by this bill which is a 4.3% increase over FY 2012 levels and is slightly less than the President’s FY 2013 request.  The increase is dedicated to research and education activities of the Foundation which include a manufacturing science initiative and cyber security and infrastructure research.

Changes in Mandatory Program Spending (CHIMPS).  The Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill has for many years included several CHIMPS – or Changes in Mandatory Program Spending.  CHIMPS are typically limitations on the discretionary funding used to implement mandatory programs.  Through these limitations, the Appropriations Committee reduces scored mandatory budget authority in the budget year and those reductions are credited towards the appropriations bill for the purposes of determining compliance with their section 302(b) allocation under the budget resolution.  This year’s bill includes CHIMPS that reduce budget authority by $9.337 billion in FY2013. Because the limitation in the appropriations bill applies for only one year, it causes the budget authority savings to be shifted to the out years. Over the budget window, these CHIMPS reduce budget authority by only $501 million.

The largest CHIMP in this bill is the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) obligation limitation, which produces scored savings of $8.5 billion in FY 13 but no net savings over the budget window.  The CVF consists of fines and penalties from federal criminal offenders, which are deposited in the fund pursuant to permanent law.  The DOJ has authority to spend from the CVF without an appropriation in order to provide relief to crime victims. However, the CJS bill has since 2000 included an obligation limitation on the CVF account that reduces mandatory spending in the budget year and allows those savings to be used to offset other discretionary spending elsewhere in the bill.  The CJS bill limits the payouts in the budget year to an amount less than the fund balance (approximately $720 million in FY 2013), and the remaining balance in the CVF account ($8.5 billion in FY 2013) is credited as savings to the CJS bill. When the limitation expires the next fiscal year, the baseline again assumes, per current law, that the CVF’s payouts will not be limited.

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