On November 16, the Senate approved the conference report for the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2006 (H.R. 2862). The vote was 94-to-5. Earlier, on November 9, the House approved the measure by a vote of 397-to-19.
H.R. 2862 provides $5,653.37 million for NSF, an amount that is 3.3 percent above the agency's FY 2005 funding level and nearly one percent above the President's request for FY 2006.
Next, the measure goes to the White House for the president's expected signature.
Final House and Senate passage came shortly after congressional negotiators reached agreement on the bill. The conferees provided $4,387.52 million for the research and related activities account, an amount that is 4 percent above the FY 2005 appropriation and 1.2 percent above the President's request for FY 2006. The conferees provided $807 million for the education and human resources account, an increase of 9.5 percent over the FY 2006 request. The Math and Science Partnership is
funded at $4 million above the President's request. The conferees provided $250 million for salaries and expenses, 12 percent above the FY 2005 level but 7 percent below the President's request.
To keep the spending bill within their allocation, the conferees agreed to an across-the-board cut of 0.28 percent (or roughly $17 million from the NSF total).
The NSF numbers, pending application of the across-the-board cut, are as follows.
The language from the NSF Section of the Conference Report follows.
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
The conference agreement includes $5,653,370,000 for the six appropriations accounts of the National Science Foundation (NSF), instead of $5,643,370,000 as proposed by the House and $5,530,959,000 as proposed by the Senate.
Research and Related Activities
The conference agreement includes $4,387,520,000 for the Research and Related Activities account, instead of $4,377,520,000 as proposed by the House and $4,345,213,000 as proposed by the Senate.
The conference agreement includes language allowing funds under this heading to be available for polar icebreaking services. The conferees expect the NSF to reimburse the United States Coast Guard for such services pursuant to a memorandum of agreement. The conference agreement includes, by reference, language in the House report regarding the submission of a report on alternatives for long-term icebreaking needs and future options for supporting the United States presence in the Antarctic.
The conference agreement includes, by reference, language in the House report on innovation inducement prizes. The conference agreement also includes, by reference, language in the Senate report on the Plant Genome Research program and radio astronomy.
The conferees agree that funding for the Children's Research Initiative research centers program shall continue at least at the fiscal year 2005 level. The conferees commend NSF for its Silicon Nanoelectronics and Beyond program and its partnership with the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative, which involves the sponsorship of research in the areas of information technology and electronics. The conferees encourage NSF to continue its support for such research in fiscal year 2006 at the same level as fiscal year 2005.
Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction
The conference agreement includes $193,350,000 for the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account, as proposed by the House and Senate. In addition, the conferees are aware that unobligated balances of at least $14,880,000 are available from fiscal year 2005, resulting in a total funding availability of $208,230,000 under this account. The conferees agree to the following distribution of available resources, which fully funds all requested MREFC projects for fiscal year 2006:
|Project||Dollars, in thousands|
|Atacama Large Millimeter Array||$49,240 |
|IceCube Neutrino Observatory||50,450 |
|Scientific Ocean Drilling Vessel||57,920|
|Total, MREFC ||208,230|
Education and Human Resources
The conference agreement includes $807,000,000 for the Education and Human Resources (EHR) account as proposed by the House, instead of $747,000,000 as proposed by the Senate. The conferees agree to the following distribution of funds under this account for fiscal year 2006:
|Program||Dollars, in thousands|
|Math and Science Partnerships ||$ 64,000|
|Elementary, Secondary & Informal Education||172,500|
|Graduate Education ||155,000|
|Human Resource Development|| 120,000 |
|Research, Evaluation and Communication ||49,500|
Within the amount provided for Human Resource Development, the conferees agree that $25,800,000 shall be for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program and $35,800,000 shall be for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program. In addition, the amount provided for Human Resource Development continues funding for the Tribal Colleges and Universities program, and the HBCU-Research University Science and Technology initiative within the Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology program.
NSF plays a significant role in attracting more of the best and brightest students in the Nation into the science, mathematics, engineering, and technology fields. The conferees urge NSF to work towards increasing the number of women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups to the greatest extent possible.
Within the amount provided for Undergraduate Education, the conference agreement continues funding for the Robert Noyce Scholarship program and the Advanced Technological Education program.
The conference agreement includes, by reference, language in the Senate report regarding the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program.
Within the funding provided under this account, the conferees direct the NSF to initiate a demonstration program to provide seed money for new projects with the goal of increasing the pool of individuals pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers through programs that catalyze and maintain interest of K-8 students in math and science. The projects must stimulate interest and provide exciting but challenging educational experiences in math and science that are continuous and seamless from initial contact and throughout high school. The conferees agree that the NSF shall conduct a merit-based peer review process to select projects for funding, and that each project shall involve sustainable coalitions of industry/business, colleges of education, and educational agencies.
Salaries and Expenses
The conference agreement includes $250,000,000 for the Salaries and Expenses account as proposed by the House, instead of $229,896,000 as proposed by the Senate. The conference agreement includes full requested funding for 23 new positions, and includes, by reference, guidance in the House report regarding priority areas for the allocation of additional personnel. The conferees agree that at least three positions shall be allocated to the Office of the Deputy Director of Large Facility Projects to improve oversight of large research facility projects.
Office of the National Science Board
The conference agreement includes $4,000,000 for the Office of the National Science Board, as proposed by the House and Senate. The conference agreement includes, by reference, language in the House report regarding the establishment of a Board commission on science education.
Office of Inspector General
The conference agreement includes $11,500,000 for the Office of Inspector General as proposed by the House and Senate.