Issue Date: March 30, 2009
Science In The Domestic Agenda
SCIENCE WILL BE the cornerstone of a wide array of future government policies, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised at a meeting last week with academic and business leaders.
"If you want to know our domestic agenda, it is science, science, science, and science," Pelosi said. This focus on science is demonstrated in the amount of money in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act and the fiscal 2009 federal budget for key scientific agencies (C&EN, Feb. 16, page 7, and March 2, page 10).
Pelosi, along with Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Science & Technology Committee, received a thank you from the academic and business representatives at the meeting for recent scientific funding gains in the economic stimulus package.
"Support for scientific research and education is critical to our economic recovery and our future as a nation," said C. D. (Dan) Mote Jr., president of the University of Maryland, College Park. "Innovation will come from highly educated people who will discover and apply new knowledge to our critical problems," he added.
Pelosi and Gordon said that they support future funding for science as a driver for economic growth, but also that they value the role of science in other policy areas. For example, Gordon noted that his committee is focusing on science-related issues including energy and water resources.
In a discussion after the initial meeting, Gordon elaborated on his committee's activities, such as the hearing it held on the role of science in foreign policy. The scientific and technology leaders were supportive of these efforts but underscored the need for continued long-term support of key science agencies to avoid a boom-and-bust scenario.
Gordon acknowledged this concern and said Congress is working diligently on the issue. "The 2009 appropriation was almost a perfect follow-on to the recovery act," he noted. As Congress begins its work on the fiscal 2010 budget, he added, it is essential to have continued public support.
For this reason, Gordon encouraged those in attendance to "go back home and explain to the public why we need these investments" to ensure long-term sustained growth in science funding.
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