Christmas came early for Congress, as House and Senate leaders finally passed a much-awaited $1.7 trillion fiscal year (FY) 2023 omnibus spending bill. The bill represents an increase from the $1.5 trillion appropriations package for FY 22. The release of the bill’s text was quickly followed by action in both Chambers to meet the deadline of December 23rd, when government funding was set to expire. The Senate passed the measure December 22nd with a 68-29 vote. The House quickly followed, approving the measure December 23rd with a 225-201 vote.
The omnibus package is comprised of all 12 annual appropriations bills and will fund the government through September 2023. Overall, the bill provides $858 billion in defense spending, representing about a 10 percent increase from the baseline, and $772.5 billion in nondefense discretionary spending, an increase less than the 7.1 percent inflation rate. Also included in the bill is nearly $45 billion in additional Ukraine aid; legislation banning the use of TikTok on government phones; the Electoral Count Act Reform, which clarifies that the vice president cannot overturn election results when Congress counts Electoral College votes; and $40 billion in funding to assist communities across the country recovering from natural disasters. The bill also does waive the statutory Pay-as-You-Go Act of 2010 for both 2023 and 2024, providing certainty for state and local governments and allowing $14 billion in subsidy payments to public entities to move forward.
ASCE urged Congress to pass an appropriations package for FY 23 that maintains a strong commitment to our nation’s infrastructure systems, as well as the investments set by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the CHIPS and Science Act. Congress mostly kept that promise, with agencies like the Department of Transportation receiving more funding in FY 23 than it has ever received in a year, amounting to $144 billion.
ASCE has broken down the programs that the Society has been tracking most closely. Those programs, broken out by agency, are below.
Agriculture and Rural Development. The final bill provides nearly $4 billion for rural development programs, including to build sustainable rural infrastructure. Highlights include:
- $455 million for the expansion of broadband service, including $348 million for the ReConnect program. These funds are in addition to the $2 billion provided by the IIJA.
- $1.47 billion for rural water and water program loans and over $500 million in water and waste grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems and waste disposal systems.
Commerce-Justice-Science. The bill provides $1.8 billion in new funding to implement the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. This includes $820 million in the CJS Appropriations bill and $980 million in supplemental funding to help jumpstart the initiative. The CHIPS and Science Act sets out an ambitious goal of doubling funding for science and technology programs by 2027 to help drive U.S. economic competitiveness. Among agencies within the Commerce-Justice-Science title are:
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – The bill invests a total of $1.65 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an increase of $424 million, or 34 percent, above the FY 2022 enacted level. Among specific allocations is funding for the measurement labs and research at $953 million, a $103 million or 12 percent increase above the FY 2022 enacted level. The goal is to spur research advances in cutting-edge fields like carbon dioxide removal, artificial intelligence, quantum information science, and cybersecurity.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – The bill allocates a total of $4.9 billion for programs at NOAA. This is an increase of $400 million over FY 2022 funding levels. The agreement adopts the focus on “Climate Ready Nation” as contained in the House report, but does not provide the full funding levels.
- The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funded at $9.9 billion ($9.54 billion in the CJS Appropriations bill and $335 million in supplemental funding), which is $1.036 billion or a 12 percent increase above the FY 2022 enacted level. This is the largest dollar increase NSF has ever received and the largest percentage increase for the Foundation in more than two decades. However, it falls short of the $11 billion called for in the CHIPS and Science Act. This funding includes $7.8 billion for NSF’s research and related activities, an increase of $680 million, or 9.5 percent, above the FY 2022 enacted level, to implement the CHIPS and Science Act, including significant support for the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships.
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is provided $25.4 billion, which is $1.34 billion more than the FY 2022 enacted level. The measure funds research at $761 million, an increase of $113 million, or 17.5 percent, above the FY 2022 enacted level. This includes a $24 million, or 12 percent, increase above the FY 2022 enacted level for climate research and an increase of $21.5 million for high performance computing upgrades, which are critical for climate modeling.
Energy and Water. The bill provides $54.65 billion for the Energy & Water division, as well as $650 million in emergency funds. This includes:
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is provided $8.66 billion, representing an increase of $317 million from FY 2022. The disaster supplemental includes an additional $1.13 billion in funding. Included in the Corps funding is $2.1 billion for the USACE Construction account, which includes $297 million in emergency funds. In FY 2022 the account received $2.49 billion. The bill also includes $7.2 million for the USACE WIFIA Program (CWIFP), which is equal to the FY 22 level, $5.1 billion for the Operations and Maintenance account, which is an increase of $561 million from FY 2022, and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will receive $2.3 billion, an increase of $269 million from FY 2022.
- The National Levee Safety Program did not receive additional funding; The FY 20 funding level was $15 million and the bill states that the Appropriations Committees believe this is sufficient to bring the program through Phase 2. However, the National Levee Inventory did receive $12 million for FY 2023.
- $500,000 for the National Dam Inventory under USACE, representing a $100,000 increase from the FY 22 level.
- The Bureau of Reclamation will receive $1.9 billion, an increase of $30 million from FY 2022.
- The Department of Energy (DOE) is set to receive $46.5 billion for FY 2023. The bill includes $350 million for DOE’s Electricity account to support technologies that enhance grid resilience and efficiency, which is an increase of $73 million from FY 2022 and $8.1 billion for DOE’s Office of Science, an increase of $625 million from FY 2022.
Interior and Environment. The bill provides $38.9 billion for the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Division, an increase of $850 million from FY 2022. This includes $10.1 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, which is $576 million more than FY 2022. Additionally, the bill provides $1.6 billion for wildfire preparedness and $4.6 billion in disaster funding related to wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters. This overall bill also includes:
- $1.639 billion for Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), a $35 million increase from FY 22.
- $1.126 billion for Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), an increase of $13 million from FY22.
- $1.5 billion for Community Project Funding for over 700 drinking water, wastewater, and storm water management projects across the country.
- $1.3 billion for Superfund, an increase of $50 million above FY 2022.
- $100 million for Brownfields cleanups, $8 million above FY 2022.
- $16 million for four new grant programs authorized in the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act.
- $75.6 million for WIFIA, an increase of $6.1 million from FY 2022.
- $3.5 billion for the National Park Service, a $210 million increase from FY 2022.
- $1.5 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey, an increase of $103 million from FY 2022.
Homeland Security. The bill includes $86.5 billion for the Homeland Security division, including $25.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is $1.5 billion above the FY 2022 level. This includes:
- $19.9 for the Disaster Relief Fund under the Stafford Act. This includes funding for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program. This is $205 million above the request.
- $9.7 million for National Dam Safety Program, equal to the FY 22 level.
- High Hazard Potential Dam Rehabilitation Grant program did not receive additional funds in FY 23; $12 million was provided in FY 22.
- $312.75 million for FEMA’s Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program, an increase of $37.25 million from FY 22.
- $26.9 million for Infrastructure Security at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
- $8.5 million for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program for obligations under the program.
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. The 2023 THUD funding bill provides $87.3 billion, an increase of $6.3 billion compared to FY 2022 funding levels. The bill provides a total of $106.3 billion in budgetary resources for the Department of Transportation (DOT), which represents a $3.4 billion hike above FY 2022 enacted levels. Highlights include:
- $62.9 billion for the Federal Highway Administration, an increase of $2.3 billion compared to FY 2022. The bill supports formula programs funded from the Highway Trust Fund that are meant to improve the safety and long-term viability of the nation’s highway systems.
- $19 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, which is $564 million above FY 2022. This amount includes $1.6 billion for aviation safety purposes and $558.6 million for discretionary airport improvement grants.
- $3.4 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration, an increase of $78.9 million above FY 2022. This figure includes $560 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program. It also provides $2.45 billion for Amtrak, including $1.26 billion for Northeast Corridor grants and $1.19 billion for National Network grants.
- $16.9 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, including $13.6 billion for transit formula grants to expand bus fleets and increase the transit state of good repair. There is also total of $2.6 billion for Capital Investment Grants and $542 million for transit infrastructure grants to assist transit agencies in purchasing low- and no-emission buses, improving urban and rural ferry systems, and carrying out local projects.
- $800 million for national infrastructure investments (RAISE/TIGER/BUILD), including not less than $20 million for grants to assist areas of persistent poverty and historically disadvantaged communities.
- $896.1 million for the Maritime Administration, an amount $56.4 million above President Joe Biden’s budget request, including $318 million for the Maritime Security Program and $212 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program.
- $873.6 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and $1.2 billion for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.