Last week, environment and natural resources R&D became a subject of conversation as both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees either introduced or marked up their respective FY14 Interior & Environment appropriations bills before heading into the August recess. In the House, the full Committeebegan marking up its Interior bill July 31 following subcommittee approval the week prior, though the full Committee did not finish the task. The Senate Committee unveiled its own bill August 1, though the relevant subcommittee has yet to take it up; it is the final bill the Senate Committee has on its docket, while the House Committee only has the Labor/HHS/Education bill left.
As in other areas, the bills are notable for their marked divergence, with the House version stirring significant controversy. This divergence was expected, as environmental spending was one of the main areas targeted for cuts by the House majority. The Department of the Interior (DOI), which includes the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), would receive $792 million in R&D in the House and $893 million in the Senate, compared to a request of $963 million. Before inflation, the House figure would represent a 3.3 percent cut below FY 2012 levels, and a 3.0 percent gain above FY13 post-sequester estimates; however, USGS would fall 1.9 percent below even