Congress proposed a bipartisan 2017 spending bill on Monday that shows support for science, including many agencies that fund chemistry research and regulation.
The legislation’s flat funding for many agencies feels like a win for research, in part because the situation for science has sounded dire in the months since President Donald J. Trump took office. The bill (H.R. 244) moving through Congress includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health—a 6.2% boost over 2016 to $34.1 billion in 2017—and none of the other cuts Trump had suggested.
Just weeks ago, Trump proposed massive cuts to science for the current fiscal year, including a $2 billion cut for NIH. And his preliminary fiscal 2018 proposal would slash research funding and the Environmental Protection Agency and completely eliminate the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) and the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
Passage of a fiscal 2017 appropriations bill is required this week to avert a government shutdown, after almost seven months of stopgap measures to keep the government running. “We commend Congress and the White House for working together to prevent a government shutdown and finalizing appropriations for fiscal 2017,” says Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Among other agencies that support chemistry, Department of Energy Office of Science funding would go up slightly. ARPA-E would receive a boost to $306 million, up 5.2% from fiscal 2016.
The National Science Foundation’s funding would remain flat from 2016. And the National Institute of Standards & Technology’s support would go down 1.0%, primarily through a $10 million cut to a fund that supports upgrades to its aging facilities. The Department of Agriculture’s primary competitive research grants program would get $375 million, an increase of $25 million.
The EPA would see a slight cut of 1.0 % to $8.1 billion. That includes an additional $7.5 million to clean up Superfund sites. CSB’s funding would remain flat at $11 million.
If the bill passes, agencies will have five months before the 2018 fiscal year begins in October 2017. Trump has said he will fight for funding for a Mexican border wall then, which could mean another shutdown threat.