Broad Swath of R&D Groups Press Congress to Reject Fiscal 2018 Budget Plan

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Congress is pressed to dismiss the deep cuts to research and development programs in the White House’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal as it begins crafting appropriations measures. | Phil Roeder/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Nearly 150 scientific, engineering, medical organizations and academic institutions urged Congress on Wednesday to protect the nation’s research and development enterprise that has long powered American prosperity and reject steep spending cuts the White House proposed in its fiscal 2018 budget proposal.

“America’s research and development enterprise has made our nation the world’s preeminent, most effective and sought-after partner for innovation,” the groups said in a letter delivered to lawmakers a day after the White House sent Congress its $4.1 trillion budget proposal that outlined sweeping cuts for research and development programs.

“It is among the most powerful engines of American prosperity, producing value far beyond the sum of its individual agencies. History confirms that a secure, prosperous, and competitive future is found in research across all fields of science and engineering.”

The letter, sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and that copied House and Senate appropriators, said research and development investments have created millions of jobs, driven innovation and enabled the nation’s academic institutions to turn out skilled workers and advance high-technology – all contributing to economic growth.

President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal would impose historically deep funding cuts that would “cripple the science and development enterprise,” including double-digit percentage decreases in science and technology programs at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Energy and Agriculture departments, the letter said citing AAAS budget analyses. Science and technology programs at the Defense Department and NASA also were marked for less severe but still significant reductions.

The letter also called on lawmakers to take a fresh look at discretionary spending limits to “permit sufficient federal research investments and sustain our nation’s status as the world’s innovation leader.”

AAAS and the House Research & Development Caucus are hosting a noon briefing on May 26 on the impact of the fiscal 2018 budget proposal on research and development investments across the country. Matt Hourihan, director of the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program, will dig into the numbers and answer questions from congressional staff.

[Associated image: Phil Roeder/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]