Final FY 2019 Appropriations Signed Into Law; Work Begins on FY 2020 Budget Cycle
Final FY 2019 Appropriations Signed Into Law; Work Begins on FY 2020 Budget Cycle

February 2019

President Donald Trump signed a law that finalized appropriations for FY 2019 hours before the government was set to shut down on February 15. Trump backed off of his demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, which was holding up completion of the FY 2019 appropriations cycle. After signing the bill, which ultimately included $1.375 billion for border barriers, Trump declared a national emergency designed to allow him to reallocate additional federal spending to a border wall.

The FY 2019 appropriations bill provides $8.075 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), an increase of 4 percent over the FY 2018 amount. Within NSF, the bill provides $910 million for the Education and Human Resources Directorate, an $8 million increase, and $6.52 billion for Research and Related Activities, a 3 percent increase. The bill also provides a 36 percent increase in funding for the Census Bureau, a boost to the agency in preparation for the 2020 Decennial Census.

In addition to those agencies, the government shutdown affected the White House Office of Management and Budget, which puts together the president’s budget request. Typically, the president presents the budget request to Congress in early February, but the government shutdown forced a delay of the request. The initial budget materials for FY 2020 are expected to be released during the week of March 11.

As in recent years, the budget request is expected to include proposals to significantly cut nondefense spending, including for agencies that support education research and statistics. Congressional members are not likely to accept those proposed decreases in developing the appropriations bills. At the same time, Congress will need to reach a new budget agreement to avoid triggering sequestration under the Budget Control Act. Without an agreement, nondefense agencies would see a 9 percent cut in funding, which would be required to keep them within the current budget caps for FY 2020.