Spring in DC Not Really Cherry Blossom Season; It’s Budget Season 

Cherry blossoms crowd the foreground with the Washington monument in background
Cherry blossoms attract flocks of tourists to Washington, D.C., while budget season brings flocks of advocates and lobbyists. (Photo: Reshma Mallecha/ Unsplash)

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden released its budget for fiscal year 2023 today. While Congress controls the purse strings, a president’s budget request to them serves as a strong marker of an administration’s policy priorities and a starting point for budget negotiations for Congress, federal agencies, advocacy organizations, and lobbyists on K Street. To see how this guidance may (or may not) be honored, last year the executive branch requested $10.2 billion for the National Science Foundation; in turn, the nation’s largest funder of basic social and behavioral science research received $8.8 billion. 

Traditionally the administration’s budget will be released in February and many professional organizations host “fly-ins” in March and April for their members to call upon their respective members of Congress to allocate funding for their policy and research priorities.  

While the budget (aka appropriations) process begins in the spring, in recent years it has not been signed into law until late summer at the earliest – and the current fiscal year’s budget was only passed this month, a half year after it began. If an agreement cannot be reached by October 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, a continuing resolution is passed to avoid a federal government shutdown while the negotiations and federal government can keep the lights on. It is worth noting, that these agreements often do not get agreed to unless there is a multi-week “recess” from congressional action, where members return to working in their districts. 

What does this year’s budget suggest for key agencies that provide social and behavioral science funding? 

National Science Foundation 

Department of Commerce 

Bureau of Economic Analysis 

Census Bureau 

  • The Biden Administration’s request for FY2023 $1.5 billion, which provides $160 million for the 2020 Census, $252 million for the 2030 Census preparation, $245.6 million for the American Community Survey, and $170 million for Economic Census. For FY2022, it was enacted at $1.35 billion

Department of Education 

Department of Health and Human Services 

Department of Housing and Urban Development 

Department of Justice 

Department of Labor 

Department of Transportation 

  • The Administration’s request for the Bureau of Transportation Statistics is $26.25 million in FY2023, representing the first growth in BTS’s funding level since FY 2014. 
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Maxine Terry

Maxine Terry is a corporate communications specialist with SAGE Publishing. She previously covered judiciary and housing policy as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

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