Senators reject budget cuts to science and energy programs

by E360 Digest

U.S. senators have rejected efforts by the White House to slash funding for energy and scientific research, calling the cuts “short-sighted” in a reportpublished by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The report, written by the Senate appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development, recommends continuing funding for most programs at or near current levels, including for the Department of Energy and the Interior Department — contradicting calls from the White House and the House of Representatives to drastically cut budgets for science, energy, and environmental research, Science magazine reported.

In its May budget request, for example, the White House proposed eliminating the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which works to advance basic research into new energy technologies. Senate appropriators, led by Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, rejected the plan, proposing an 8 percent boost to the agency’s budget instead. “The Committee definitively rejects this short-sighted proposal,” the Senators wrote. They also expressly forbade the Department of Energy from terminating ARPA-E, calling the agency a “transformational program.”

The White House proposed cutting the DOE’s budget for biological and environmental research by 43 percent to $349 million. Instead, Senators called for a 3 percent increase, raising its budget to $630 million. The White House proposed reducing the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s budget from $2.1 billion to $636 million for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The Senate appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development proposed reducing it to $1.94 billion instead.

The Senate and House still need to pass their respective budgets, which could take several more months. Any discrepancies will also need to be resolved before the federal budget goes to President Trump for signing.


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