Congress Delivers Science Supplemental
Congress is moving forward to provide $400 million of additional funding for scientific research and education for fiscal year 2008. Last week the House passed legislation allocating the additional dollars to various scientific agencies. According to the American Institute of Physics, the bill includes:
- $62.5 million for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for “science, aeronautics, and exploration”
- $62.5 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research and education. $5 million of the $62.5 million is for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), and $40 million is for the Robert Noyce scholarship program, which “seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers.”
- $62.5 million for the Department of Energy (DOE) “to eliminate all furloughs and reductions in force which are a direct result of budgetary constraints.”
- $150 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “to support additional scientific research.”
- $62.5 million for Defense Environmental Cleanup
The House passage of this bill comes just after Congress sent good news to the NSF in the form of a proposed 14 percent funding increase above the FY2008 appropriation, bringing the total budget for the agency to $6.9 billion for FY2009. That appropriations bill now moves to the Senate floor.
There may also be good news for the National Institutes of Health, which has seen its spending power decline 8 percent in real terms on account of economy-wide inflation after five years of flat funding from the Bush administration. Moreover, the NIH estimates a loss of 13 percent of buying power in biomedical research expenses, in which prices increase faster than in the rest of the economy. According to Inside Higher Ed, the House Appropriations Committee:
unanimously backed a plan to give the NIH $1.2 billion more than it is receiving in 2008 and than President Bush proposed giving the biomedical research agency for 2009… The $1.2 billion increase, which would lift spending for the NIH to $30.2 billion, would allow for 1,000 new research grants, [Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI)] said.
Unfortunately the $150 million sent to the NIH with the successful passage of this most recent 2008 supplemental bill falls woefully short of the annual 10 percent, or $2.59 billion, increase that is necessary to support critical biomedical and health research. Moreover, R&D funding for the NIH, along with other key agencies, should be set on a doubling course over the next decade to bolster work that improves our country’s health, grows our economy, fuels the development of renewable energy technologies, and supports basic research.
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