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Proposal for Record R&D Funding
Faces Legislators on Return to DC
If the House follows the Senate lead, federal funding for research and development in the United States could hit a record, $116-billion high, according to a mid-term analysis of recent Senate action by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Before leaving Washington, D.C. in early August, the Senate had taken initial action on the entire federal R&D portfolio, drafting all 13 appropriations bills and approving three. As federal legislators return from their August recess, they must consider Senate proposals that would provide an increase of 12.4 percent in FY 2003, or $12.8 billion over the amount appropriated in 2002.
"What this says is that the government is going to continue investing in science and technology for the future, despite current economic conditions," says Kei Koizumi, director of the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program. "Since September 11, congressional priorities have changed, with the lion's share going to the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health for bioterrorism research, but this increase still represents a pretty strong endorsement of the importance of research and development to the nation's future."
The report notes, however, that in an election year, the process of signing the legislation into law by 1 October, when the fiscal year begins, "may prove impossible to accomplish, especially since the House and Senate are still working from discretionary spending totals that are $10 billion apart..."
The AAAS August Status Report on R&D in FY 2003 Appropriations reports that the Senate would "boost" the defense department research and development budget by 15.7 percent, or $7.8 billion, for a total of $57 billion. This would lift funding for the department over its peak FY 1987 high, when Congress was responding to the demands of the Cold War.
Non-defense R&D agencies, other than the National Institutes of Health (NIH), would together receive a 4 percent increase to $30 billion, or $1.1 billion over FY 2002. The National Science Foundation (NSF) would begin to benefit this year from a plan to double the research agency's budget. The Senate would provide it with an 11.9 increase to $3.9 billion in FY 2003. The AAAS report notes, however, that the Bush Administration, with the support of House Republicans, has threatened to enforce a spending limit, which could decrease funding for non-defense R&D.
"The outcome for nondefense agencies will depend on how strong the House and President Bush are in their resolve to restrain domestic discretionary funding," the report says.
Funding for NIH would also increase dramatically, a 16 percent increase to $27.3 billion, in part because FY 2003 represents the final year in a five-year plan to double the agency's budget. Contrary to a Bush Administration proposal for a Department of Homeland Security, with legislation being drafted by both houses, the legislators seem intent allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NIH to retain control over funding for bioterrorism, with the Senate proposing to increase NIH's portion from $275 million in FY 2002 to $1.5 billion in FY 2003.
3 September 2002[an error occurred while processing this directive]
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