Issue Date: February 5, 2007
Bill Buoys Science Funding
SCIENCE AGENCIES, including NIH and NSF, are slated to get significant funding increases in legislation proposed by Democratic leaders to complete the federal budget for fiscal 2007. The House passed the bill on Jan. 31 with bipartisan support, and the Senate is expected to pass it soon.
The measure (H.J. Res. 20) is a compromise worked out by the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate after the Democrats announced that they would not reconsider the nine 2007 appropriations bills that Congress failed to pass last year but would instead keep the budget, with a few adjustments, at fiscal 2006 levels.
Some of those funding adjustments favor science agencies. NIH will receive an increase of $620 million, a 2% rise, to $28.9 billion under the bill. This allows the agency to fund an additional 500 research grants and sets aside $483 million to begin the "common fund" for interdisciplinary projects, as required by the 2006 NIH reauthorization bill.
NSF is to get an 8% increase, or $335 million, to $4.7 billion. This increase is about what President George W. Bush proposed for the agency a year ago. Also, laboratory programs at the National Institute of Standards & Technology would receive a $50 million increase for physical science programs and nanotechnology research.
At the Department of Energy, the budget resolution would increase funding at the Office of Science by $200 million to about $3.8 billion to support research on energy technologies. The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Resources would get a $300 million boost to $1.5 billion to accelerate its R&D activities.
The Administration had a mixed reaction to the budget bill. While praising the efforts to eliminate most congressional earmarks from the budget, the White House Office of Management & Budget complained that some programs, such as the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership and much of the American Competitiveness Initiative to support physical sciences and engineering, had been shortchanged. Despite these misgivings, the White House has indicated that the President will sign the bill.
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