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Policy Resources

Ecologist’s Guide to Policy

This publication focuses on opportunities to connect ecological information to public policy issues. Aimed primarily at ecological scientists, the book covers the Congressional and Executive branches-highlighting federal agencies with environmental regulatory authority or resource management responsibilities-an overview of key environmental laws, tips on effective preparation and communication during in-person meetings, congressional testimony, crafting opinion editorials, talking with rotary clubs, contributing to science blogs and working with the media. View the PDF here.

Connecting with Congress

  • Click here for tips on writing to and meeting with members of Congress
  • Contact information for members of Congress: House / Senate

Note: If you aren’t able to visit Capitol Hill, legislators frequently return to their state offices for congressional holidays and recesses, making these dates excellent opportunities for in-town meetings. See the House and Senate schedules here.

Weighing in on federal agency regulations and actions

Encouraging federal support of science

  • Federal funding for science is distributed among a number of different agency programs on an annual basis.
  • For the latest information on science funding in the budget, visit the ESA federal budget tracker.
  • Contact your members of Congress, particularly if they have Budget or Appropriations Committee assignments (for a list of these assignments, click here for the House and here for the Senate)
  • Contact the Chair of committees with jurisdiction over applicable agencies. For a list of agencies, click here

Budget Overview

  • Federal agencies prepare budget requests, which they submit to White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
  • OMB uses these requests to put together the President’s budget proposal. This request is typically submitted to Congress the first Monday of February. The exception is at the start of new administrations, when the budget release date is pushed to March or April.
  • In Congress, authorizing committees in both the House and the Senate must approve funding for programs that fall under their jurisdiction. For example, the House Science Committee is among the committees with jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation, and is therefore tasked with approving NSF-funded programs.
  • The House and Senate Budget Committees each draft a budget resolution for debate on the floor, usually in April. Once passed, the resolution provides a framework for a more specific appropriations bill.
  • Following the budget resolution, appropriations subcommittee chairmen in each chamber allocate the funding levels among the 12 appropriations subcommittees.
  • After both chambers have passed their respective versions of the appropriations bill, select Senators and Representatives confer to resolve any differences between the two versions and draft an appropriations conference report, which goes back to the full House and Senate for a final vote. If passed, the bill goes to the President who either signs or vetoes it.
  • If a new budget is not voted into law by the end of the fiscal year (September 30) Congress must enact a continuing resolution, which maintains government spending levels specified in the previous year’s budget until a new budget is passed. This process has become commonplace, with continuing resolutions often lasting for months until federal funding for the new fiscal year is successfully completed and passed. In tandem with the trend of continuing resolutions, many appropriations bills are now packaged into a single omnibus bill, which can be passed with a single vote.

Agencies of interest

Agencies of interest to the ecological community and the congressional committees that oversee funding for them:

Department of Agriculture:

Department of Education:

Department of Energy:

National Science Foundation:

Department of Interior:

Environmental Protection Agency:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Take Action: ESA periodically notifies select members of opportunities to weigh in on key policy issues in their areas of interest. To stay abreast of all action alerts, consider subscribing to Policy News.

Recent action alerts include:

  • Science Funding: Ask your Members of Congress to restore funding for science for FY 2020 (2019)
  • Science Funding: Ask your Members of Congress to restore funding for science for FY2019 (2018)
  • Keep Tax Exemption for Tuition Waivers (2017)
  • Call for Experts in Hurricane Aftermath (2017)
  • Comment on National Monument Review (2017)