President Obama signed a spending bill Nov. 18 that sets 2012 budgets for five Cabinet-level departments. The bill also extends short-term funding for other agencies until Dec. 16. (Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images)
President Obama has signed a spending bill that sets 2012 budgets for five Cabinet-level departments, as well as NASA and a number of smaller agencies. The measure also extends short-term funding for other agencies until Dec. 16 at close to last year's levels. A previous continuing resolution (CR) was set to expire at midnight Friday, meaning that the new measure averts the possibility of a partial government shutdown for another four weeks.
Obama inked the measure Friday after it easily cleared the House and Senate on Thursday.
Besides NASA, the $128 billion bill covers the Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development departments.
The 2012 legislation marks the first time that Congress has approved an annual appropriations bill — as opposed to a CR — since late 2009. In the debate preceding Thursday's House vote, top lawmakers voiced hope that Congress could approve all remaining 2012 spending legislation by next month. The 2012 fiscal year began in October.
For many programs, the new bill cuts spending from last year's levels, according to the House Appropriations Committee. The bill also ends funding for some 20 programs, with a total savings of $456 million, the committee's chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said Thursday.
Discretionary spending at the Agriculture Department, for example, will be trimmed by $350 million — almost 2 percent — from last year's $20.2 billion level. NASA would get $17.8 billion, a 3.5 percent cut over last year. Among major agencies, the hardest hit is HUD, whose budget drops more than 11 percent to $37.3 billion.
Conversely, the Transportation Department gets a funding jump of $4.1 billion to $17.8 billion, although that figure is $14.7 billion less than the Obama administration's 2012 request.
Lawmakers generally rebuffed the White House's call for budget increases for agencies picking up new or heightened responsibilities. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, for example, is essentially level-funded at $205 million, even though it is charged with regulating a $3 trillion derivatives market under the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul approved last year.
Legislators also denied an administration request to create a National Climate Service within the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The bill also:
• Funds the Justice Department at $27.1 billion, up $18 million from last year and $1.3 billion below the administration's request.
• Funds the Commerce Department at $7.6 billion, up $26 million from last year and $1.2 billion below the administration's request.
• Funds the National Science Foundation at $7 billion, $173 million above last year's level and $734 million below the administration's request.
• Defers a legally required $5.5 billion "prepayment" by the U.S. Postal Service for retiree health care, this time until Dec. 16. That payment was originally due Sept. 30; USPS officials said they don't have the money to cover it.
The House Appropriations Committee released a partial list of programs for which funding will end. The list is broken down by specific section of the new law.
Programs eliminated under Agriculture, rural development, Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies:
• New era/rural technology: $1 million.
• Microbiological data program: $4.2 million.
• Healthy Food Financing Initiative: $35 million.
• Subsidized Guaranteed Farm Loans: $17 million.
• Rural Microenterprise Investment Program: $6 million.
• 12 Federal Agricultural Research Laboratories: $38 million.
Programs eliminated under Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies:
• Economic Development Administration, Sustainable Economic Development/Global Climate Change: $16.5 million.
• National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Public Telecommunications Facilities, Planning and Construction: $1 million.
• National Institute of Standards and Technology. Technology Innovation Program: $44.8 million.
• NIST Baldrige Performance Excellence Program: $9.6 million.
• NOAA Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning: $1.5 million.
• Justice Department, National Drug Intelligence Center: $34 million.
• Drug Enforcement Administration, Mobile Enforcement Teams Program: $40 million.
• Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative: $8.3 million.
• Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Technology: $1.2 million.
• National Science Foundation, Graduate STEM Fellowships in K-12 Education: $26 million.
• NSF Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory: $12 million.
• NSF National STEM Education Distributed Learning: $10 million.
Programs eliminated under Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies:
• Federal Transit Administration, Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) Grants: $50 million.
• HUD, Sustainable Communities Grants: $100 million.