FY 2020 Budget & Appropriations for Chemistry

The release of the President’s fiscal year 2020 (FY20) budget request marks the beginning of the process to fund the government from October 2019 – September 2020. The request was released in phases starting March 11, 2019. Congress in previous years has largely set its own budget, so the President's budget is mostly an indication of Administration priorities.

On June 19, 2019, the House passed a minibus, H.R. 2740, containing appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, State, and covering the Legislative branch and Energy and Water. These are not the final funding levels, but represents what the House believes FY20 funding should be set at.

On June 25, the House passed a second minibus, H.R. 3055, covering Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS), Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD). As with H.R. 2740, these are not the final funding levels.

On August 1, the Senate passed H.R. 3877, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, which set budget levels for FY20 and FY21, increased the budget by $324 billion over current levels and susupended the debt ceiling until July 2021. President Trump signed the bill August 2.

On September 27, President Trump signed a continuing resolution (CR), H.R. 4378, that extended funding through November 21, 2019. Congress will need to act by then, either with another CR or by passing full appropriations bills, in order to avert a shutdown.

On December 20, President Trump signed H.R. 1865, covering Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, Agriculture, Energy and Water Development, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, State-Foreign Operations, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, and H.R. 1158, covering Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services and General Government, and Homeland Security. These two minbuses combined cover all appropriations for FY20 and fund the government until the end of FY20 on September 30, 2020.

Below are agency-by-agency breakdowns of what we know about FY20, and what it might mean for chemistry.


Browse the Breakdowns by Agency

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Proposed FY20 Budget:  $7.1 billion, a 12 percent cut versus FY19

Final FY20 Appropriation: $8.28 billion, a 2.5 percent increase over FY19

The basics: NSF funds science and engineering in every discipline except the medical sciences. Money for research grants comes out of NSF’s Research and Related Activities Account (R&RA). For FY 20, the Administration requested $5.663 billion, a 13.1 percent cut. The budget includes $1.295 billion for the Math and Physical Sciences Directorate (MPS), a 16.5 percent cut from FY18. In particular, the Division of Chemistry (CHE) is receiving a 13 percent cut from FY18, while the Division of Materials Research (DMR) is receiving a 18.8 percent cut from FY18. The Office of Multidisciplinary Activities, which co-funds research that is relevant across multiple disciplines within MPS, has received a dramatic 65.6 percent increase over FY18. The majority of this funding, $60 million, will go to supporting two of the NSF Big Ideas: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution and Windows on the Universe.

The impact on chemistry:  More than half of all chemistry research at NSF is funded by the MPS through the CHE and DMR divisions. The impact of the overall cuts on MPS, CHE, and DMR will be dramatic.

Status (6/2019): The House passed a minibus, H.R. 3055, which would fund NSF at $8.64 billion, a nearly $600 million increase over FY19. Research and Related activities would receive $7.1 billion. Within existing scientific research (including CHE and DMR), the Appropriations committee recommended no less than FY19 funding.

Status (10/2019): The Senate minibus would fund NSF Research and Related Activities at $6.77 billion, roughly a $300 million decrease from the House version. Funding for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction would be funded at $255 million, $30 million over the House bill.

Status (12/2019): The House and Senate agreed to top level funding of $8.28 billion for NSF, $203 million over Fy19. Of this, $6.74 billion is for Research and Related Activities, which is $217 million more than in 2019, while funding for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction was set at $243 million.


Department of Energy Office of Science (SC)

Proposed FY20 Budget: $5.5 billion, a 16 percent cut versus FY19

Final FY20 Appropriation: $7.0 billion, a 6.3 percent increase from FY19

The basics: SC is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the U.S. and the lead entity focused on fundamental research into future energy solutions. In addition to its 6 research programs, SC has primary oversight and stewardship for 10 of DOE’s 17 national laboratories.

The impact on chemistry:  The majority of chemistry research funded by SC comes from 2 research programs- Basic Energy Sciences (BES) and Biological and Environmental Research (BER). For FY20, the Administration has requested funding of $2.166 billion for BES, a 14.2 percent cut from FY19. BER funding of $494 million was requested, a 29.9 percent cut from FY19. Science Laboratories Infrastructure funding, used to support Office of Science National Labs, was requested at $163.6 million, a 29.8 percent cut from FY19.

Status (6/2019): The House passed a minibus that would fund SC at $6.87 billion for FY20, an increase of $285 million over FY19. The bill included $1.89 billion for BES research, an increase of $61 million over FY19. BER would be funded at $730 million, an increase of $25 million over FY19. Science Laboratories infrastructure would be funded at $250 million, nearly $18 million more than FY19.

Status (12/2019): Office of Science was funded at $7 billion in the final agreement. $415 million more than FY19. BES received $1.853 billion, while BER received $750 million. Science laboratories infrastructure received $300 million.


Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)

Proposed FY20 Budget: $0 million, with the agency eliminated

Final FY20 Appropriation: $425 million, a 16.1 percent increase over FY19

The basics: ARPA-E, which is modeled after the famous DARPA at the Department of Defense, “advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment.” Like last year, President Trump is proposing the elimination of ARPA-E. As with the previous two years, this proposal is unlikely to click with Congress.

The impact on chemistry: Since transformative energy projects will rely on advanced materials and energy storage capabilities, chemistry is at the heart of what ARPA-E does. If the agency is eliminated, ongoing work would wind down and future opportunities for this highly experimental work would be lost.

Status (6/2019): The House passed a minibus which would fund ARPA-E at $425 million, a sizable increase of $59 million over FY19.

Status (12/2019): The final appropriations agreement provided $425 million, the same as the House bill.


National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Proposed FY20 Budget: $33 billion, a 15 percent cut versus FY19

Final FY20 Appropriation: $41.68 billion, a 6.5 percent increase over FY19

The basics: NIH is the largest funder of biomedical research in the world. Each of its institutes and centers (ICs) has its own research agenda, and many focus on specific diseases or body systems.

The impact on chemistry: While chemistry can be found in many different ICs, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is the most prominent supporter of chemistry research because of its total focus on basic research.  The President proposes to fund NIGMS at $2.473 billion, a 4.2 percent cut versus FY19. The National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), which also provide significant support for basic chemistry research and tools, would be cut by 15 percent, 14 percent and 14 percent respectively.

Status (6/2019): The House passed a minibus which would fund NIH at $41 billion, an increase of $2 billion over FY19. Within the minibus, NIGMS would receive $3.03 billion, while NIBIB and NCATS would receive $408 million and $806 million respectively.

Status (12/2019): NIH received $41.68 billion in the final appropriations bill, $2.56 billion more than in FY19. NIGMS, NIBIB, and NCATS were funded at the same levels as in the June minibus.


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Proposed FY20 Budget: $6.068 billion, a 31 percent cut versus FY19

Final FY 20 Appropriation: $9.06 billion, a 12 percent increase versus FY19

The basics: EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. To develop the foundation for the regulatory part of its mission, EPA funds scientific research in the areas of risk assessment and the impact assessment of substances on human health and the environment. The President’s budget request would see EPA’s funding for Science and Technology drop 34.5 percent versus FY19 enacted levels, to $440 million, reducing the agency’s ability to generate and evaluate scientific data.

The impact on chemistry: S&T research at EPA is housed within the Office of Research and Development (ORD), with most chemistry research falling under the Chemical Safety and Sustainability (CSS) research program. CSS helps EPA evaluate and predict the impacts of manufactured chemicals throughout their lifecycle. For FY20, the President has again asked for $86 million for CSS, a 32 percent cut versus FY19.  In addition, the President has once again asked for the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program to be defunded. STAR grants support extramural researchers in disciplines important to EPA’s mission—and act as a source of independent information and analysis. The President is also proposing the elimination of funding for the Global Change Research Program.

Aside from research, EPA plays a critical role in the chemistry enterprise by regulating the use of chemicals in commerce. The Chemical Risk Review and Reduction program, which oversees this work, would receive $66.4 million in FY20, an increase of about 9 percent over FY19. This amount will be supplemented by user fees submitted by companies who manufacture the reviewed products.

Status (6/2019): The House minibus would fund EPA at $9.53 billion, a $677 million increase over FY19 levels. This includes $131 million for science and environmental programming and $511 million for compliance monitoring and enforcement activities. CSS would be funded at nearly $127 million, a $40 million increase over the President’s budget request, and flat relative to FY19. The STAR program would receive flat funding from FY19.

Status (10/2019): The Senate minibus would fund the EPA at $9 billion, an increase of $161 million over FY2019 but roughly half a billion less than the House version. Science and Technology would be funded at $713 million.

Status (12/2019): The final agreement funded EPA at $9.06 billion which is $208 million more than in FY19. This included $716 million for Science and Technology, a $10 million increase from FY19 levels, and $126 million for CSS, a slight decrease from 2019.


Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB)

Proposed FY20 Budget: $10.2 million, slated for elimination

Final FY20 Appropriation: $12 million, the same as FY19

The basics: CSB was created by Congress in 1990 “to investigate accidents to determine the conditions and circumstances which led up to the event and to identify the cause or causes so that similar events might be prevented.” In contrast to previous budgets, the administration is not proposing to eliminate CSB this year.

The impact on chemistry: Though different from the other agencies covered here, CSB plays a key role in the chemical enterprise. By investigating and widely reporting flaws in the process of chemical production (or in the case of universities, laboratory safety), CSB protects the lives of workers and prevents property damage. This year's request, like FY18 and FY19, provides funding only to close down the Board. However, the last two years have seen Congress continue to fund CSB despite administration requests for its elimination.

Status (6/2019): The House minibus would fund CSB at $12 million, flat relative to FY19 levels. The bill includes an increase of $1.8 million over the Presidential budget request to restore proposed cuts.

Status (10/2019): The Senate minibus would fund CSB at $12 million, the same as the House bill. 

Status (12/2019): The House and Senate agreed to fund CSB  at $12 million.


National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)

Proposed FY20 Budget: $688 million, a 30 percent cut versus FY19

Final FY20 Appropriation: $1.03 billion, a 4.9 percent increase from FY19

The basics:  NIST, part of the Department of Commerce, develops and maintains the national measurement and standards system that makes cross-sector research, development, and commerce easier and more efficient. For the second year in a row, the President is proposing major cuts to NIST that would impact both scientific and industrial programs.

The impact on chemistry:  As part of its Scientific and Technical Research Services (STRS) program, NIST provides world-class measurement science, standards, and technology in a range of S&T areas. This includes chemistry: NIST researchers have projects studying reaction mechanisms and rate constants, complex chemical systems, advanced materials, and more.  NIST also operates a NanoFab laboratory and the Center for Neutron Research, two user facilities that attract researchers from across sectors. For FY20, the budget request included $614 million for STRS, a 15.2 percent cut from FY19.

NIST’s manufacturing programs under Industrial Technology Services (ITS) are being dramatically downsized. The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Program is slated for elimination. The budget request includes $15 million for Manufacturing USA, roughly the same as FY19. These programs help small businesses develop and promote advanced manufacturing, respectively.

Status (06/2019): NIST would be funded at $1.04 billion by the House minibus. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership would receive $154 million, an increase of $14 million over FY19. (STRS) would be funded at $751 million, $137 million more than the President’s Budget Request. Finally, research facility construction would be funded at $120 million.

Status (10/2019): The Senate minibus would fund NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership at $146 million, (STRS) at $753 million, and construction of research facilities at $123 million. 

Status (12/2019): NIST recieved funding at $1.03 billion, $48 million more than FY19. $754 million was allocated for STRS, $162 million was allocated for ITS, and $118 million was allocated for the construction of research facilities.


STEM Education

The basics: The federal government sponsors an array of programs designed to increase science literacy and train the next generation of science and engineering professionals. While many agencies have STEM education programs, the Department of Education (DoEd) and NSF’s Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate are the top funders in this area.

  • NSF requested $823 million for EHR, a 9.6 percent cut from FY19.
  • DOE Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists would receive a 13.3 percent cut from FY19, receiving $20 million for FY20.
  • DoEd overall would receive a 12 percent cut versus FY19, with the following allocations for STEM-related programs:
    • The Administration requested $1.170 billion for Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grants—designed to augment state programs for a number of academic areas, including the sciences—a stark contrast from FY19 when it was proposed to eliminate them.
    • Federal TRIO programs, which offer opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, would be funded at $950 million, a cut of 10.3 percent. The program would also be restructured from a competitive grant program to a State formula program.
    • The Administration requested $1.3 billion for the Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, which are sources of federal funding to states for postsecondary career and technical education, essentially flat funding.
    • Proposed for elimination is $2.1 billion from Teacher Training, $1.2 billion from Title IV funding for academic supports and enrichment, and $1.1 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers that support after-school programs.

The impact on chemistry:  The future of chemistry depends on students receiving strong STEM education at all levels. The proposed cuts to teacher training, Title IV funding, and 21st Century Community Learning centers will increase the challenge of retaining a qualified STEM teacher corps, undermine efforts to increase underrepresented communities' participation in STEM, and allows school STEM infrastructure to fail further behind the needs of STEM- educated workforce.

Status (06/2019): The minibuses passed by the House would fund DOE Workforce Development at $25 million, an increase of $2.5 million over FY19. SSAE grants funding would be set at $1.32 billion, an increase of $150 million over FY19. TRIO programs would be funded at $1.160 billion, an increase of $100 million over FY19. CTE State Grants would be funded at $1.31 billion, an increase of $47 million over FY19. Community Learning Centers would be funded at $1.32 billion, an increase of $100 million over FY19. Finally NSF EHR would receive $950 million, an increase of $40 million over FY19.

Status (10/2019): The Senate minibus would fund NSF EHR at $937 million, an increase of $27 million over FY19.

Status (12/2019): The Senate and House agreed to fund EHR at $940 million, 30 million more than Fy19. SSAE is funded at $1.21 billion, $40 million more than FY19,  and TRIP programs are funded at $1.09 billion, up $30 million from FY19. 


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