FY16 CJS Subcommittee Markup Bill Summary

Mara Stark-Alcalá w/Appropriations:                                     (202) 224-2667                                  
Alanna Wellspeak w/Mikulski:                                               (202) 228-1122
Subcommittee Mark: June 10, 2015
Washington, D.C. – The fiscal year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill provides a total of $51.1 billion in discretionary funding.  But the bill contains over $3 billion of cuts below the President’s request for resources to protect community security and spur innovation.
The Subcommittee's allocation conforms to the post-sequester caps under the Budget Control Act.  Not one Senate Democrat voted for these spartan spending levels, because they do not provide adequate resources to protect America, promote innovation, create opportunity, and spur economic growth.  We need a new budget agreement in the spirit of Murray-Ryan deal that stops hollowing out investments in America’s future.
U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee and Vice Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement:
“This bill is first and foremost a public safety bill. It funds federal, state, and local law enforcement to protect us from criminals, scammers, terrorists, predators, and hackers. It also funds weather prediction and warnings so we can get out of the way when severe weather threatens lives and property. However, because of the spartan allocation, this bill doesn’t provide adequate resources to spur innovation and support scientific research, expand prisoner re-entry programs, reduce the immigration court backlog, out-innovate our foreign competitors in the laboratory and in the marketplace, or explore and understand the Solar System. Congress needs to work together on a sequel to the Murray-Ryan budget deal sooner rather than later, so we can get to work on realistic bills that protect America and provide opportunity for all Americans.”
Key Points & Highlights
  • Federal Law Enforcement.  While this bill provides full funding to support the operations of the FBI, it leaves the three other federal law enforcement agencies stagnant at the fiscal year 2015 level.  Additional resources of $154 million are still needed for the U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to meet the President’s request level.  Funding at the President’s request level would have allowed for the hiring of additional Deputy Marshals and DEA and ATF agents as well as improvements to the National Firearms Center in Martinsburg, WV which would have reduced processing times for trace requests and improved performance for licensing functions, including imports and National Firearms Act applications. 
  • NASA.  This bill provides $18.3 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which is $279 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, but $240 million below the President’s requested level.  The bill supports key priorities like Earth Science, satellite servicing, and NASA’s next missions beyond low-Earth orbit.  However, the underlying bill falls short of funds needed to pay for signed, fixed-price contracts to develop commercial crew transportation.  As a result, NASA will continue to rely on the Russians to launch U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station, beyond 2017.
  • NOAA Ships.  The bill provides $2.3 million to plan for a new Ocean Survey Vessel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but does not include the requested $147 million to fund construction of the vessel.  NOAA currently has 16 ships in its aging fleet, but that number will dwindle to 8 vessels by 2028.  To maintain its current oceanographic capacity, NOAA needs to start building not one but eight additional vessels in the next two to four years, as construction takes eight to ten years per ship.  If Congress waits to fund this vessel, the cost will increase by at least $10 million.  This ship is critical to NOAA’s ability to map the ocean floor, support National Weather Service activities, conduct oceanographic and climate research, and support ecosystem and fisheries management. 
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology.  The bill provides an additional $29 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) above the fiscal year 2015 level for a total of $893 million.  NIST research and grant programs develop measurements and standards for private sector innovation, help aspiring start-up companies commercialize new technologies, and provide technical and workforce development support to American manufacturers.  Cybersecurity research is fully funded in this bill, including $72.7 million for cryptographic standards, an increase of $7 million above the enacted level, and $15 million for National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.  However, the bill is $227 million below the requested level, and no funding is provided for new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation institutes. 
  • National Science Foundation.  The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funded at $7.34 billion, equal to the fiscal year 2015 level.  This funding includes $5.93 billion for NSF’s research and research facilities to support today’s scientists, engineers and technicians, and $866 million for NSF’s education and training programs to build tomorrow’s innovation workforce.  However, the bill supports 726 fewer research and education grants and 9,100 fewer scientists, students, and teachers than it would if NSF was funded at the requested level of $7.72 billion.
  • Weather Satellites.  This bill provides $135 million to begin building new polar weather satellites, $247 million below the request level.  These satellites provide 85 percent of the data used to forecast the weather, and are a vital component of Americans’ personal, property, and economic security.  One-third of U.S. GDP is affected by climate and weather, including farmers trying to protect livestock and crops, cities relying on energy from wind turbines and solar panels, and air travelers trying to get home safely and on time.  In 2014 alone, the United States suffered eight major weather and climate events.  Estimated to have cost more than $1 billion dollars each, these disasters would have cost even more without sufficient warning.  Inadequate funding for weather satellites means gambling with American lives and livelihoods. 
  • Immigration Courts.  The bill does not provide any of the President’s $50 million request to provide legal services for children coming before the immigration court system.  Without representation, it is nearly impossible for unaccompanied children to navigate our exceedingly complex immigration laws and system.  When unaccompanied children are effectively represented, immigration courts will be able to reduce the number of continuances granted for the purpose of obtaining counsel and/or evidence.  The bill also only funds the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) at $11 million, $10 million below the President’s request level of $21 million.  Reports have shown that LOP participants complete their immigration court cases in detention on an average of 12 days faster than detainees who do not participate in an LOP.  The requested funding level would have enabled LOP to add 40 additional sites.
  • Census Bureau.  Funded at $1.13 billion, this bill falls $372 million short of needed research and development funding for the Census Bureau.  This cut may save millions of dollars in 2016, but will cost taxpayers billions in 2020.  The 2010 Census cost nearly $13 billion, and the Bureau projects that repeating the same old paper-and-pencil Census in 2020 could cost more than $17 billion; however, new technologies like internet response could save more than $5 billion in 2020.  That $5 billion in savings is seriously jeopardized by the cuts in this bill, because the Bureau can’t conduct a cheaper, 21st-century 2020 Census unless testing, evaluation, and implementation are completed well in advance of the decennial.  This funding level is inadequate and irresponsible, and will cost taxpayers even more money in the long run.
An amendment Vice Chairwoman Mikulski will offer in tomorrow’s Full Committee markup is available here.

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