Subcommittee Approves FY2016 Commerce, Justice & Science Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies today approved the FY2016 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill, advancing the more than $51 billion measure toward full committee consideration on Thursday.
The legislation provides funds for important programs within the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.  The Senate measure, which is $965 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $985 million below the President’s budget request, will fund federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement grants, space exploration, basic science research, economic development programs, trade enforcement, and ocean observations and weather forecasting.
“Within prudent fiscal boundaries, this bill achieves a careful balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, economic development, scientific research, and space exploration.  As a result, this bill represents responsible spending at a time when America is living within a constrained budget,” said U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee.  “Senator Mikulski and I worked together to create a bipartisan bill, and I look forward to its consideration by the full Appropriations Committee.”
Highlights of the Senate FY2016 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill:
Department of Commerce
The bill funds the U.S. Department of Commerce at $8.5 billion, a $10.2 million increase over FY2015, to support economic development, protect intellectual property rights, strengthen trade enforcement, advance cybersecurity research and development, and improve severe weather forecasting. 
Economic Development Administration (EDA) – The bill contains $250 million for the EDA, including $100 million for its Public Works program, to support brick-and-mortar projects needed by distressed communities across the country. 
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) – The bill provides $3.3 billion for USPTO to continue protecting ideas and advancing innovation by the nation’s inventors and entrepreneurs. 
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – The bill provides $893 million for NIST, $29 million above the FY2015 enacted level.  The funding will 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 marketplace. 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – NOAA is funded at $5.4 billion, which includes a $23 million increase above the FY2015 enacted level for the National Weather Service.  The bill provides full funding for NOAA’s flagship weather satellites, which are critical for accurate weather warnings to protect lives and property.  Funding for NOAA also targets new areas of investment for fisheries management, including the testing and implementation of new technologies to expand opportunities for American commercial and recreational fishermen. 
Bureau of the Census – The Bureau of the Census is funded at $1.1 billion, an increase of $40 million over the FY2015 enacted level.  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 Department of Justice (DOJ) at $27.8 billion, an increase of $798 million above the FY2015 enacted level.  The constantly changing landscape of criminal activity at home and abroad tests the DOJ’s ability to deal with emerging threats.  The bill ensures that federal law enforcement agencies work together to focus limited resources in a manner that safeguards taxpayer dollars while preserving public safety.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – The bill provides $8.5 billion for the FBI, a $106 million increase above the FY2015 enacted level.  This funding will enable the FBI to protect and defend against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats while also enforcing U.S. criminal laws.  The funding includes a $10.3 million increase for the Next Generation Cyber Initiative to neutralize, mitigate, and disrupt illegal computer-supported operations domestically.  The bill also provides the requested $74.8 million for the Innocent Images National Initiative to target and investigate sexual predators on the Internet.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – The Committee allocates $2.41 billion to the DEA, a $4.8 million increase above the FY2015 enacted level. This funding will allow the DEA to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States, including efforts to combat prescription drug abuse.
United States Marshals Service (USMS) – The bill provides $2.66 billion for the USMS, including:  $1.45 billion for federal prisoner detention expenses; $56 million to continue Adam Walsh Act enforcement to apprehend convicted sex offenders who fail to register as fugitives; and, $5 million to support Regional Fugitive Task Forces (RFTFs) and the operation of anti-gang investigative units within the RFTFs.
U.S. Attorneys – The bill provides $1.97 billion to fund the Executive Office for United States Attorneys and the 94 U.S. Attorneys offices.  This funding includes $44 million to continue the focus on Adam Walsh Act investigations and prosecutions related to the sexual exploitation of children.  The bill also supports the request of $36 million for increased civil rights enforcement, and the request of $55 million for combating cybercrime, including the investigation and prosecution of cyberattacks and cyber intrusions.
Federal Prison System – The bill provides $7 billion for the federal prison system, or the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).  These funds provide for the operating needs of federal prisons and include $32 million to add one additional correctional officer for each housing unit in high security institutions in order to address unsafe environments for correctional officers and other BOP staff.
Law Enforcement Grant Programs – The bill allocates $2.3 billion in funding for state and local law enforcement and crime prevention grant programs. Included is grant funding for state and local law enforcement efforts, the Office on Violence Against Women, and juvenile justice programs.  The bill provides $382 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG), approximately $166 million for initiatives that will address Rape Kit and other DNA evidence backlogs, and $41 million in support for Drug Courts.
Crime Victims Fund (CVF) – This bill follows the FY2016 Concurrent Budget Resolution by providing $2.6 billion to the CVF, a $241 million increase over the FY2015 level and $1.6 billion above the request.  This amount represents a 349 percent increase over the past two years, and is above the three-year average of deposits in the CVF.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – The bill funds NASA at $18.3 billion, a $279 million increase over FY2015, 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:
  • $1.9 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS), $200 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $544 million above the request.  The SLS is the nation’s launch vehicle which will enable humans to explore space beyond our current capabilities.  The funding maintains the current schedule for the first launch of SLS, and also provides critical funding for upper stage engine work for future crewed missions.
  • $1.2 billion for the Orion crewed spacecraft, the same as the FY2015 enacted level and $104 million above the request.  Orion is NASA’s crewed vehicle that is being designed to be able to take astronauts to destinations farther than ever before, including Mars.
  • $5.3 billion for Science, $50 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $6.4 million above the request.  This funding encompasses missions from the Earth, to the Moon, throughout the Solar system, and the far reaches of the universe. 
  • $2.5 billion for International Space Station (ISS) Crew and Cargo, an increase of $170 million over the comparable amount funded in FY2015.  Within these funds, $900 million is included for ISS crew capabilities, $100 million over the FY2015 enacted level, to continue development of privately-owned crewed vehicles.  Once developed and fully tested, these vehicles will help end the United States’ reliance on Russia for transporting American astronauts to and from the ISS.
  • $600 million for Space Technology, $4 million above the FY2015 enacted level.  Funding is included to advance projects that are early in development that will eventually demonstrate capabilities needed for future space exploration.
National Science Foundation (NSF) – The bill funds the NSF at $7.3 billion, maintaining the FY2015 enacted level.  Funding is provided for basic research across all scientific disciplines and to support the development of effective Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] programs and grow the next generation of scientists.
Related Agencies
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) – The bill provides $385 million for the LSC, which is $10 million more than the FY2015 enacted level.
Oversight and Accountability
The measure includes provisions that 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 and companies with felony criminal convictions.
  • Requires agencies to report conference spending to the Inspectors General and prohibits the use of funds for certain banquets and conferences.
  • 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.