Biden administration requests 16% increase in domestic spending, $4 billion for climate and sustainability research

President Joe Biden released a 58-page discretionary “Skinny Budget” request April 9 totaling $1.5 trillion to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022). The budget request calls for a 16% increase to $769 billion in non-defense discretionary spending and a 1.7% increase to $753 billion for defense spending. It would increase funding for federal science agencies and there are big investments in climate mitigation, adaptation, and research. The plan includes over $4 billion across the federal agencies for research to “improve understanding of the changing climate and inform adaptation and resilience measures.” View this graphic for a quick snapshot of the entire request. 

The President’s Budget Request represents a starting point for the FY2022 budget process and the administration’s priorities. The White House is expected to release a more detailed discretionary budget and mandatory budget in the coming weeks. The “Skinny Budget” provides few specific details about funding for budget line items or even agencies. However, the budget document provides the Biden administration’s vision for the federal government.

Biden’s budget request is in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s proposed steep budget cuts across the government, especially to scientific and environmental programs. Even when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate in 2017 and 2018, Congress largely rejected these steep cuts. Biden’s Presidential Budget Request could get a more friendly reception on Capitol Hill, with Democrats controlling both the House and the Senate. Still, Congressional appropriators ultimately control the federal government’s purse strings. There are other large spending plans, such as the infrastructure plan, that would require significant funding. It is unclear if Congress will have the appetite to pass large appropriation bills if huge amounts of funding are needed for other priorities. If this proves to be the case, the federal government could be looking at another continuing resolution to fund the federal government in FY2022, although it is still very early in the appropriations process.

National Science Foundation

Biden’s Presidential Budget Request includes $10.2 billion for NSF, representing a 19.8% increase for NSF over the FY2021 funding level of $8.5 billion. This includes a large amount for climate and clean energy research, $9.4 billion for fundamental research and development and $100 million for addressing racial equity in science and engineering. Echoing calls in Biden’s infrastructure plan and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Endless Frontiers Act (see ESA Policy News, April 5, 2021), Biden’s budget request establishes a new directorate for technology, innovation and partnerships within NSF. This directorate would work to expedite technology development areas including artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, disaster response and resilience, quantum information systems, robotics, advanced communications technologies, biotechnology and cybersecurity.

In recent years, NSF has received modest increases, falling short of amounts requested by the scientific community.

Committee hearings:

  • On Tuesday, April 13, NSF Director Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan will present NSF’s budget request to the Senate Appropriations Committee. View the hearing here.
  • Dr. Panchanathan will also present the NSF budget to the House Appropriations Committee hearing on Wednesday, April 14. View the hearing here.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

The budget request does not provide specific numbers for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service, but calls for $4 billion for USDA’s research, education, and outreach program. Biden also calls for $161 million to support a multi-agency initiative to integrate science-based tools into conservation planning to measure, monitor, report, and verify carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas reduction, wildlife stewardship and other environmental services at the farm level and on federal lands. 

U.S. Department of the Interior

Biden requests $17.4 billion for the Interior Department as a whole, a $2.4 billion increase over FY 2021 levels.

This amount includes $550 million to help “decrease climate pollution, accelerate clean energy deployment, and expand efforts around climate adaptation and ecosystem resilience.” It is not clear which agencies or programs will receive this funding. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is slated to receive an additional $200 million for climate science. The proposed budget also includes language supporting creating a Civilian Climate Corps, funding to support conserving 30% of land and water by 2030 and money to restore USGS scientific capacity.

U.S. Department of Energy

The Department of Energy Office of Science is funded at $7.4 billion, a $400 million increase over FY 2021 levels. The Office of Science reached record funding levels as directed by Congress during the Trump administration before receiving nearly flat funding in FY 2021.

Biden calls for creating an Advanced Research Projects Agency – Climate (ARPA-C), which would receive $1 billion in FY 2021. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would be funded at $700 million. ARPA-E funds high-risk, high-reward energy research and development projects that the private sector would not fund. The Trump administration repeatedly proposed eliminating ARPA-E in its budget requests.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Overall, President Biden requested $6.9 billion for NOAA, a $1.4 billion increase over FY 2021.

Environmental Protection Agency

Biden requests $11.2 billion for the EPA, a 21.3% increase. This includes $936 million for a new Accelerating Environmental and Economic Justice initiative.

The EPA largely avoided the steep cuts proposed in President Trump’s budget requests. However, the agency did see sizable decreases in scientific personnel. The House Science Committee reported that the EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s workforce declined by 7.6% during the Trump administration and 17.2% between 2012 and 2019. Biden’s budget includes $110 million to restore EPA’s staff capacity.


Overall, Biden requests $24.7 billion for NASA, a 6.3% increase. Following Biden’s calls for investment in climate and earth-facing science at NASA, the Earth Science Directorate receives $2.3 billion, a $250 million increase.