Congress must act before year’s end to find a more sensible way to reduce the U.S. budget deficit or risk reversing the current economic recovery, warns Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. In a 15-page letter he sent to colleagues last week, Dicks outlines the impact of the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, called sequestration, on various federal agencies and points out that this “backup plan” was only intended to induce a compromise to reduce the deficit (see page 30). The repercussions for federal R&D for 2013 include about 2,400 fewer NIH research projects grants than in 2012 and some 1,600 fewer NSF research and education grants than in 2012. Cuts to basic research funding at the Department of Energy, he notes, would hurt U.S. prosperity and global science and technology leadership. “Congress must find a way to replace sequestration with a balanced approach to long-term deficit reduction that focuses on economic growth and job creation and does no harm to our economic recovery in the short-run,” he says.