Committee Approves FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Appropriations today approved the FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which would provide funding for law enforcement, economic prosperity, scientific research, and space exploration and other national priorities.
The $53.4 billion measure funds the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Justice, and independent agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and others. The bill is $3.2 billion below the FY2017 enacted level and $4.4 billion above the budget request. It passed on a 30-1 vote.
The bill adopts some cost savings in the administration’s budget request, but continues to maintain funding for core programs, including law enforcement, state and local public safety grants, space exploration, scientific research, economic development programs, trade enforcement, and ocean observations and weather forecasting. It also includes provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse.
“This legislation makes difficult choices about how best to allocate limited taxpayer funds to meet immediate and future national priorities,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). “The law enforcement, scientific research, and economic development agencies funded by this measure directly affect the lives of Americans. I commend Senators Shelby and Shaheen for working to write a bipartisan bill to responsibility meet those needs.”
“The Committee has made challenging but responsible decisions to produce a bill that strikes an appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” said U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. “Senator Shaheen and I have worked together to craft a strong bipartisan product that stays within our spending boundaries while addressing the needs of our nation. I look forward to its consideration by the Senate.”
Department of Commerce
The bill funds the U.S. Department of Commerce at $9.16 billion, a $76.4 million decrease below FY2017. The Committee continues its strong support for economic development, strengthening trade enforcement, improving fisheries management, protecting intellectual property rights, and advancing severe weather forecasting.
International Trade Administration (ITA) – $495 million for ITA, including a $2 million increase above the FY2017 level, for ITA’s Enforcement and Compliance business unit to self-initiate investigations of foreign actors suspected of violating trade laws to the detriment of American businesses.
Economic Development Administration (EDA) – $254 million for EDA, including $100 million for its Public Works program, which supports brick-and-mortar projects in distressed communities across the nation. Funding for EDA also includes $21 million for the Regional Innovation Program, an increase of $3 million above the FY2017 level, to promote and strengthen regional innovation to spur job creation through private-public partnerships.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) – $3.5 billion for USPTO to protect the ideas and inventions of our nation’s entrepreneurs in an effort to advance and innovate all sectors of the economy.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – $944 million for NIST, $8 million below the FY2017 enacted level, to strengthen the U.S. cybersecurity posture through cutting-edge research and development, expand opportunities in the areas of advanced manufacturing, and continue promotion of the highest-quality standards to maintain fairness in the global marketplace. Funding for NIST includes $130 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, which is a private-public partnership present in all 50 states dedicated to serving small- and medium-sized manufacturers.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – $5.6 billion for NOAA, an $85.1 million decrease below the FY2017 enacted level, for core NOAA operations including: ocean monitoring; fisheries management; coastal grants to states; aquaculture research; and severe weather forecasting. The bill provides full funding for NOAA’s flagship weather satellites, and their planned successors, which are critical for accurate weather warnings to save lives and protect property. Funding for NOAA continues to target new areas of investment for fisheries management, including new monitoring technologies and support for state-led management schemes to ensure greater access to the nation’s abundant fishery resources.
Bureau of the Census – $1.5 billion for the Bureau of the Census, $51 million above the FY2017 enacted level and $24 million above the request. The bill directs the Census Bureau to continue its efforts to hold the costs of the 2020 Census lower than that of the 2010 Census and to maintain its focus on activities that will make such savings possible.
Department of Justice
The bill funds the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) at $29.1 billion, $121 million above the FY2017 enacted level. Salaries and expenses for federal law enforcement agencies are funded with significant increases, with most agencies funded at or above the budget request level. The constantly changing landscape of criminal activity at home and abroad tests DOJ’s ability to deal with emerging threats, and this bill directs federal law enforcement agencies to work cooperatively to safeguard taxpayer dollars while preserving public safety.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – $9 billion for the FBI, a $213 million increase above the budget request, to enable the FBI to protect and defend against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats and to enforce U.S. criminal laws. The bill provides $87 million for the Innocent Images National Initiative to target and investigate sexual predators on the Internet, and increases funding for cybersecurity activities to neutralize, mitigate, and disrupt illegal computer-supported operations.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – $2.5 billion for the DEA, $50 million above the FY2017 enacted level, to allow the agency to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States, including efforts to combat heroin use and prescription drug abuse. The funding level includes $13 million in ongoing support for four new enforcement groups created in FY2017 to concentrate on targeting, disrupting, and dismantling heroin trafficking.
United States Marshals Service (USMS) – $2.8 billion for the USMS, including $1.5 billion for federal prisoner detention expenses. This funding will allow the USMS to continue Adam Walsh Act enforcement efforts to apprehend convicted sex offenders who fail to register as fugitives; responsibilities under the International Megan’s Law to alert foreign governments when registered sex offenders travel abroad; and, provides continued support to ongoing efforts to establish a new Regional Fugitive Task Force.
U.S. Attorneys – $2.1 billion for the Executive Office for United States Attorneys and the 94 U.S. Attorneys offices. This funding includes $48.34 million, the full budget request, to continue the focus on Adam Walsh Act investigations and prosecutions related to the sexual exploitation of children. No less than $60 million, which is $5 million over the budget request, is designated for combating cybercrime, including the investigation and prosecution of cyberattacks and cyber intrusions.
Federal Prison System – $7.1 billion for the federal prison system, or the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). These funds provide for the operating needs of federal prisons, including no less than $116 million for the Residential Drug Assistance Program. The bill also directs that no less than $1 million be allocated to continue the medication-assisted treatment pilot program for inmates with heroin and opioid addiction.
Law Enforcement Grant Programs – $2.3 billion for state and local law enforcement and crime prevention grant programs, which includes grants for state and local law enforcement, the Office on Violence Against Women, and juvenile justice programs. The bill provides $405 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG); approximately $170 million for initiatives to address Rape Kit and other DNA evidence backlogs; $111 million for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) programs, including $50 million in support for Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts to further combat the opioid and heroin epidemic; $70 million for Second Chance Act grants to reduce recidivism for adults released from jail by offering substance abuse treatment, employment assistance, and other rehabilitation services; $12 million for COPS Office Anti-Heroin Task Forces grants; and $7 million for COPS Office Anti-Methamphetamine Task Forces grants.
Crime Victims Fund (CVF) – The bill provides a $3.64 billion distribution from the CVF in FY2018, which is $1.06 billion above the FY2017 level. This amount will result in a distribution for victim service programs that approximately equals the three-year average of collections into the fund. Of this total, $10 million of this funding is reserved for the DOJ Office of the Inspector General for audits of grants funded through this distribution, and 5 percent of the total distribution is provided for Indian tribes to improve services for tribal victims of crime.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – $19.5 billion for NASA, $124 million below the FY2017 enacted level and $437 million above the budget request, to support the human and robotic exploration of space, fund science missions that enhance the understanding of the Earth, the solar system, and the universe, and support fundamental aeronautics research. This includes:
• $2.15 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS), which is $212 million above the request. The funding continues the development schedule for SLS, and provides $300 million in critical funding for upper stage engine work for future crewed missions.
• $1.35 billion for the Orion crewed spacecraft, $164 million above the request, to continue development of NASA’s next deep-space crewed capsule.
• $5.6 billion for Science, $193 million below the FY2017 enacted level and $140 million below the request.
• $732 million, the same as the request, to further develop a domestic crew launch capability.
• $700 million for Space Technology, $14 million above the FY2017 enacted level and $21 million above the request. Funding is included to advance projects in early stages of development that are expected to eventually demonstrate capabilities needed for future space exploration.
• $100 million is provided for the Education programs proposed to be eliminated in the budget request. NASA EPSCoR is funded at $18 million, Space Grant is funded at $40 million, the Minority University Research and Education Project is funded at $32 million, and STEM Education and Accountability projects is funded at $10 million.
National Science Foundation (NSF) – $7.3 billion for NSF, $161 million below the FY2017 enacted level and $658 million above the request. Funding is provided for basic research across scientific disciplines to support the development of effective Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] programs.
• $105 million is provided for the design and construction of three Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRV) instead of the two RCRVs, as proposed by NSF. By having three regional ships, the Gulf of Mexico and the East and West coasts will be able to have a dedicated RCRV to maximize research time in each of these regions.
• $160 million is provided for the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), the same as the FY2017 enacted level and $60 million above the request.
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) – $385 million for the LSC, equal to the FY2017 enacted level. LSC uses a grant process to provide civil legal aid in high-need areas across the United States.
International Trade Commission (ITC) – $91.5 million for ITC, equal to the FY2017 enacted level and $3.9 million above the budget request. ITC is an independent agency responsible for providing Congress and the President with impartial advice on U.S. international trade policy.
Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) – $57.6 million for USTR, equal to the President’s request, and includes up to $10 million derived from the Trade Enforcement Trust Fund for enforcement activities authorized by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. As the federal government’s lead negotiator for trade agreements, this funding will maintain the strong bargaining position of USTR, as well as its trade coordination and enforcement actions.
Oversight and Accountability – The measure includes provisions to ensure accountability and oversight of funds within this bill, including:
• Requires the Inspectors General to conduct random audits of grant funding to combat waste and fraud.
• Establishes an early warning system on cost overruns and requires agencies to notify the Committee when costs grow more than 10 percent.
• Prohibits grants and contracts to tax cheats.
• Requires agencies to report conference spending to the Inspectors General.
• Requires all departments and agencies to link all contracts that provide award fees to successful acquisition outcomes, and prohibits funds to pay for award or incentive fees for contractors with below satisfactory performance.
• Requires each agency to report on all efforts made to address the duplication identified by the annual Government Accountability Office duplication reports, along with identifying substantive challenges and legal barriers that could help the agency further reduce duplication.
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