AAAS Letter to Congressional Leaders Urges Passage of 2007 Spending Bills

Concerned that extension of a stopgap funding bill now in effect could mean the first year-to-year decline in federal research spending in at least three decades, AAAS is urging the incoming 110th Congress to complete action on fiscal year 2007 spending bills.

The incoming chairmen of the Democrat-controlled House and Senate appropriations committees have announced their intention to propose another continuing resolution that would keep funding for nearly all federal programs at 2006 levels throughout the 2007 fiscal year.

In a 19 December letter to those chairmen and to House and Senate leaders, Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of Science, noted that both Congress and the administration of President George W. Bush have supported increased funding for the physical sciences as part of the American Competitiveness Initiative.

Appropriations panels in the outgoing 109th Congress already had approved requests to increase funding for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories, Leshner noted. In addition, the outgoing Congress also passed legislation authorizing a 6 percent increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health. But the Congress failed to take final action on the spending measures, which Leshner said reflect “a balanced portfolio of R&D investments.”

The new Congress faces many competing priorities in crafting a budget, Leshner acknowledged in his letter. But he urged the lawmakers to “honor the commitment made to these agencies by the authorizers and appropriators, and provide them with the increased level of funding for fiscal year 2007.”

Without such action, the federal investment in basic and applied research is almost certain to fall in FY2007, according to the latest AAAS budget analysis. Under provisions of the current continuing resolution, federal research funding would total $55.2 billion for FY 2007, a 2.6 percent decrease that would mark the first year-to-year decline in at least three decades. Adjusted for inflation, the decrease would approach 5 percent in real dollars.

Read Leshner’s full letter.

Visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program for the latest AAAS analysis of the federal R&D budget.