Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill
The Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill provides $51.2 billion in discretionary budget authority for fiscal year 2015. The funding in the bill is 0.8% below FY 2014 levels and 2.1% percent above the President’s FY 2015 request.
The spending levels in the bill do not exceed the 302(b) allocations adopted by the Appropriations Committee, which are in aggregate within the overall spending level approved by the House in the Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res. 96) and the Bipartisan Budget Act.
This measure provides funding for entities such as the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation as well as the numerous bureaus and agencies under the control of each respective unit. Key activities funded in this bill include:
Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). The Patent and Trademark Office is a fee-funded entity within the Department of Commerce. This bill provides $3.5 billion in funding to the PTO for FY 2015 which is 14.3% higher than the level provided in FY 2014.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This bill appropriates $5.3 billion to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, a slight increase compared to FY 2015 levels and 3.0% below the President’s request. The bill prioritizes funding for National Weather Service operations, weather research, and related programs.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This bill includes over $8.5 billion in funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is an increase of 1.4% above the FY 2014 enacted totals as well as the requested FY 2015 levels. The increase includes additional funding for counterterrorism efforts and to continue the development of capabilities to prevent and investigate cyber intrusions.
U.S. Marshals Service. The U.S. Marshals Service is funded at approximately $5.6 billion by this bill. This represents an increase of 2.7% compared to FY 2014 funding and is just slightly below the President’s request. Included in the appropriation is $1.5 billion for Federal prisoner detention, an increase from the FY 2014 enacted level.
Federal Prison System. The bill provides $6.9 billion for the Federal Prison System, an increase of 1.7% compared to FY 2014 enacted funding and 1.2% above the President’s requested level. Funding continues to prioritize staffing levels at fully activated facilities and continues to provide for activation activities at the two institutions that received FY 2014 activation funding.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA receives funding of $17.9 billion in this bill which represents an increase of 1.4% from FY 2014 and is 2.5% above the President’s requested level. Included in the funds are $4.2 billion for Exploration activities, $3.9 billion for Space Operations, and $5.2 billion for Science programs.
National Science Foundation. The National Science Foundation is funded at $7.4 billion by this bill which is a 3.2% increase over FY 2014 levels and is 2.1% higher than the President’s FY 2015 request. The increase is dedicated to research and education activities of the Foundation which include the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative with the goal of accelerating understanding of how the brain functions.
Changes in Mandatory Program Spending (CHIMPS). The Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill has for many years included several CHIMPS – or Changes in Mandatory Program Spending. CHIMPS are typically limitations on the discretionary funding used to implement mandatory programs. Under budget rules, the appropriations committees can use CHIMPS to produce savings and have done so for many years. Through these limitations, the Appropriations Committee reduces mandatory budget authority in the budget year and those reductions are credited towards the appropriations bill for the purposes of determining compliance with their section 302(b) allocation under the budget resolution and the budget caps. This year’s bill includes CHIMPS that reduce budget authority by $10.9 billion in FY 2015. Because the limitation in the appropriations bill applies for only one year, many of the CHIMPS have the effect of delaying spending by one year rather than causing permanent savings. Over the budget window, the CHIMPS in this bill reduce budget authority on net by only $182 million.
The largest CHIMP in this bill is the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) obligation limitation, which produces scored savings of $10.5 billion in FY 2015 but no net savings over the budget window. The CVF consists of fines and penalties from convicted federal offenders, which are deposited in the fund pursuant to permanent law. The DOJ has authority to spend from the CVF without an appropriation for crime victims. However, the CJS bill has since 2000 included an obligation limitation on the CVF account that precludes a large increase in mandatory spending in the budget year and allows those savings to be used to offset other discretionary spending elsewhere in the bill. The CJS bill limits the payouts in the budget year to an amount less than the fund balance (an obligation limit of $770 million in FY 2015), and the remaining balance in the CVF account ($10.5 billion in FY 2015) is credited as savings to the CJS bill. When the limitation expires the next fiscal year, the baseline again assumes, per permanent law, that the CVF’s payouts will not be limited.