Issue Date: February 2, 2009
Science Windfall From Legislators
THE HOUSE passed an $819 billion stimulus package (H.R. 1) last week that contains more than $13 billion for research and development. At the same time, the Senate was working on its version of the bill (S. 1), an estimated $888 billion package that has some $12 billion for R&D.
"The investments in science and technology in the recovery package are timely and targeted. They will create high-quality jobs in the short term while making strides to strengthen American competitiveness over the long-term," said Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Committee on Science & Technology, in support of H.R. 1.
Thomas H. Lane, president of the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN, sent a letter to Congress encouraging them to "move swiftly to pass legislation with the science and technology portions intact." Members of Congress used letters like Lane's to support the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told members of the House that she received lots of letters supporting the bill, including one from Nobel Laureates. Despite such support, no Republican voted for the bill.
On the Senate side, Republican support is needed to pass S. 1. As the leadership works to get bipartisan support, science advocates are watching the R&D funding in the Senate bill, which is different from that in H.R. 1.
In S. 1, NASA is set to get $1.5 billion, more than twice the funds allocated by the House. On the other hand, NSF would receive $1.4 billion, which is about half of the amount set by the House. The Department of Energy's Office of Science would get nearly $500 million, 75% less than in H.R. 1. R&D funding for other science agencies also varies.
The Senate is expected to vote on S. 1 soon. If the bill is passed, a conference committee with representatives from both governing bodies will meet to iron out differences in their bills.
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