By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC
Congress and President Trump reached a last-minute agreement in mid-December on a $1.37 trillion fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations spending package before current government funding expired on December 20. Two Continuing Resolutions were needed to avoid a government shutdown and maintain FY 2019 funding levels for government agencies for the first three months of the fiscal year, but Congress and the Trump Administration finally reached an agreement on a final spending package for FY 2020.
The spending package abides to the funding levels in the two year budget agreement reached in July with $738 billion for defense spending—an increase of $22 billion or 3 percent above FY 2019 levels— and $632 billion for non-defense spending—an increase of $35 billion, or 4.5 percent, above FY 2019 enacted levels.
FY 2020 appropriations would boost funding for all federal agencies that support research and most science and technology research and development programs across the federal government would see significant increases. In addition to research funding, the spending package includes several important wins for higher education, such as an $150 increase to the maximum award for Pell Grants bringing the award to $6,345 for the 2020-2021 school year. Many other federal student aid programs would also receive an increase. Information on funding for specific agencies of interest to HFES can be found below:
National Science Foundation (NSF)
- NSF will be funded at $8.278 billion in the final appropriations bill, an increase of $203 million or 2.5 percent over the fiscal year (FY) 2019 enacted level. This amount is $39 million below the Senate proposed amount, $358 million below the House proposal, and $1.2 billion over the President’s request.
Department of Transportation (DOT)
- Regarding the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the bill includes $6.8 million for Aviation Safety Staffing and Training, which included language funding for salaries of additional staff with expertise in human factors among other engineering disciplines at the FAA. The measure also includes $6.2 million to support technical training and credentialing in human factors among other technical specialties related to aviation safety. Additionally, the bill held mixed results for FAA HF research accounts. The Enterprise, Concept Development, Human Factors, and Demonstrations Portfolio will receive $19 million, a $2.5 million increase over FY 2019; however this gain is offset by flat funding for both the Flightdeck, Maintenance, and System Integration Human Factors and Air Traffic Control Technical Operations Human Factors; and a $1.4 million decrease in the Air Ground Integration Human Factors Account. As part of this funding, the agreement instructs FAA to “investigate ways in which training and mitigations can be developed to address the safety risk associated with pilot automation dependency.” The agreement also directs FAA to respond to all reports and recommendations associated with the Boeing 737-Max8 crashes in 2019.
- On autonomous vehicles, the agreement provides $17.9 million for vehicle electronics and emerging technologies. The agreement directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to use the funds provided to the Department in the FY 2018 omnibus to “develop a research plan that ensures autonomous vehicles are safe for occupants, other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.” Additionally, the provision calls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop and publish common terminology for vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems and "highly automated" vehicle systems. Notably, the agreement does not require NHTSA to complete a formal rulemaking process in the dissemination of this terminology. The agreement also includes $5 million to establish a Highly Automated Systems Safety Center of Excellence within DOT.
Department of Defense (DOD)
- The Department of Defense (DOD) will receive $695.1 billion in FY 2020, a $19.5 billion increase over the FY 2019 enacted level. This includes $622.6 billion for the Department’s base budget and $70.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).
- This includes $104.4 billion for the Research, Developments, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) accounts, a 10 percent increase above the FY 2019 level. Within RDT&E, the science and technology (S&T) accounts, which include basic (6.1) and applied (6.2) research as well as advanced technology development (6.3), will be funded at $16.1 billion, a modest 0.7 percent increase above the FY 2019 level.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- The bill provides $41.68 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in FY 2020, an increase of $2.6 billion, or 6.7 percent, above the FY 2019 enacted level. This marks the fifth consecutive funding increase for NIH and demonstrates Congress’ strong bipartisan support for the agency.
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will receive $338 million in FY 2020, consistent with FY 2019 levels. Congress rejected the President’s proposal to move AHRQ into NIH.
- The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will receive $7 million in FY 2020, a 2.1 percent increase.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will receive $22.63 billion in FY 2020, an increase of $1.13 billion or 5.3 percent over the FY 2019 enacted level. In line with the Administration’s focus on returning humans to the Moon, the vast majority of the additional funding—85.6 percent— would be allocated toward programs within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
Moving into next year, FY 2021 funding levels are not likely to deviate substantially from final FY 2020 appropriations. The two-year budget agreement provides only a $5 billion increase to total discretionary spending in FY 2021—from the current level of $1.37 trillion to $1.375 trillion. In addition, completing FY 2021 appropriations and major legislation is often a challenge during a Presidential election year. One or more Continuing Resolutions are likely ahead of and following the elections next November.
Sources and Additional Information:
- More information is included in Lewis-Burke’s analysis of the FY 2020 appropriations bills, which can be found here.
Back to News Feed