House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Hearing: “An Overview of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2025” 

U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee 

Subcommittee on Environment 

“An Overview of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2025” 

Tuesday, June 4, 2024 

Watch the Hearing  

Introduction 

The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology (HSST) Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing entitled “An Overview of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2025” on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. The purpose of the hearing was to review the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) budget request for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). During the hearing, lawmakers and Dr. Spinrad discussed various topics, including NOAA’s strategic priorities amid a constrained budget environment, advancements to the next generation of weather satellites, and workforce constraints. More information. 

Key Highlights 

  • The President proposed a budget request of $6.5 billion for NOAA for FY25, a $242 million increase from FY24.  
  • Dr. Spinrad highlighted NOAA’s request for an additional $605.7 million in FY25 to boost observational capabilities, emphasizing the importance of investing in next-generation satellites. Chairman Lucas expressed concerns about prioritizing federal satellite constellations over purchasing commercial data. Meanwhile, Ranking Members Lofgren and Ross commended the inclusion of support for next-generation satellites in NOAA’s budget request. 
  • Dr. Spinrad emphasized NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce’s progress in developing TraCSS, scheduled to deliver Phase 1.0 capabilities to beta users by the end of FY24, with additional enhancements planned for FY25. 

Witness

  • The Honorable Dr. Rick Spinrad, Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  

Opening Statements   

Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) 

In his opening statement, Chairman Lucas expressed disappointment in NOAA’s proposed budget, emphasizing the importance of investing in the U.S. weather system. He criticized the proposed decrease in funding for the National Mesonet Program (MNP) and Commercial Data Purchases (CDP), highlighting these programs as valuable examples of how NOAA can enhance its weather data inventory through industry efforts. He questioned the increased funding request for the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS), stating that federal satellite constellations shouldn’t come at the expense of commercial data. Chairman Lucas recommended that NOAA test the usefulness of commercial data before investing in expensive buildouts and federally owned instruments. Read the Full Statement. 

Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)  

In her opening statement, Ranking Member Lofgren praised the support for the next generation of satellites in NOAA’s budget request, emphasizing their critical role in providing environmental data to NOAA, commercial industries, and other federal and international partners for various applications, including weather forecasting. She noted that NOAA’s satellites were previously on the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) high-risk list due to potential coverage gaps and stressed the importance of avoiding delays and cost overruns to ensure the program does not rejoin that list. Ranking Member Lofgren expressed concern over House Republicans’ plan to cut non-defense spending by 6%, which she fears will complicate efforts to restore NOAA’s budget. Ranking Member Lofgren did not attend the hearing and submitted her opening statement for the record. Read the Full Statement.  

Subcommittee Chairman Max Miller (R-OH) 

In his opening statement, Chairman Miller highlighted the President’s budget request of $6.5 billion for NOAA for FY25, a $242 million increase from FY24. He also noted that NOAA received an additional $2.6 billion from the Infrastructure Law, $3.3 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act, and over $500 million from the FY23 Disaster Supplemental bill. He expressed approval of budget increases for the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and the National Weather Service due to their crucial roles in innovation and weather prediction. However, he expressed disappointment over the proposed budget cuts to the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Read the Full Statement. 

Subcommittee Ranking Member Deborah Ross (D-NC) 

In her opening statement, Ranking Member Ross emphasized the importance of NOAA in providing critical information during natural phenomena, including tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, tsunamis, and geomagnetic solar storms. She highlighted NOAA’s FY25 budget request focuses on advancing the next generation of weather satellite infrastructure, describing it as an “investment that will pay off.” However, like Chairman Miller, she expressed concern over the proposed funding cuts to the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Additionally, Ranking Member Ross voiced concerns about House Republicans’ proposed 6% reduction in non-defense funding, warning that it would severely impact NOAA and other critical science agencies. Read the Full Statement.  

Witness Testimony 

The Honorable Dr. Rick Spinrad, Administrator, NOAA 

In his testimony, Dr. Spinrad underscored the importance of investing in critical satellite infrastructure, highlighting NOAA’s request for an additional $605.7 million in FY25 to enhance the agency’s observational capabilities. Dr. Spinrad noted the value of NOAA’s current satellite constellation, which will remain operational into the 2030s, but stressed the need for investment in next-generation satellites to meet the evolving needs of user communities. The FY25 budget includes funding for future geostationary (GEO), low Earth orbit (LEO), and space weather observations, including the development of the GeoXO satellite program, aimed at improving weather forecasting, air quality monitoring, and ocean and fisheries management. Additionally, Dr. Spinrad discussed NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce (OSC) and its efforts to develop the Traffic Coordination System for Space (TraCSS), which will provide space situational awareness (SSA) and traffic coordination services. TraCSS is on track to offer Phase 1.0 capabilities to beta users by the end of FY24, with plans for further enhancements in FY25, including improved data quality monitoring and additional commercial SSA capabilities. Read the Full Statement.  

Question & Answer 

  • In a response to a question by Chairman Miller, Dr. Spinrad emphasized the strong internal relationships between NOAA, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Security Council (NSC) to enhance national security practices. He highlighted the presence of a National Weather Service employee embedded within the NSC, facilitating real-time connectivity and collaboration. 
  • In a response to a question by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Dr. Spinrad acknowledged that challenging decisions had been made as a result of budget constraints. However, he reaffirmed NOAA’s commitment to maintaining critical initiatives, specifically “keeping the next generation of satellites in place.” 

An archive of previous hearing coverage is available here.

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