White House budget would ask $8.8 billion for Commerce


Census promotional material from their 2010 advertising campaign. (Courtesy of US Census, file photo, 2010)

The White House is requesting a discretionary budget of $8.8 billion for the Department of Commerce, the federal agency charged with promoting economic growth, conducting the Census and issuing patents, among other responsibilities.

The 2014 budget gave the department $8.3 billion for discretionary spending. The Obama administration’s budget would give $210 million to the Economic Development Administration, and $25 million to the Regional Innovation Strategies Program, both initiatives geared toward helping regional and small businesses – a group the president often gets slammed for ignoring.

The Commerce budget also includes increased funding for domestic manufacturing and promoting American exports. Expanding SelectUSA – a program that launched in 2011 and tries to get businesses to set up shop in the United States – is a big part of this push. The budget would give $20 million to SelectUSA, and $4 million to “Build it Here, Sell it Everywhere,” a part of the “SelectUSA” program that would measure and study direct foreign investment in the U.S. The White House proposes increasing the International Trade and Investment Administration’s budget by 8 percent, to $497 million, also in an effort to boosts exports.

The plan would also give $680 million to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which would fund cybersecurity and forensic science research. NIST faced sequestration cuts that led to fewer grants and furloughs last year.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also dealt with significant budget cuts after sequestration in 2013, and the 2015 White House budget proposes increasing their budget, likely as part of Obama’s big 2014 push on climate change. The budget plan offers $2 billion for weather satellite system development and full funding for the National Weather Service to insure accurate forecasting. Studying climate change’s effects on oceans and coasts is also mentioned as a White House priority.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.

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