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FYI Number 26: March 8, 2001

Reaction to the FY 2002 Bush Administration S&T Request

Reaction to President Bush's FY 2002 budget has centered on tax reduction. There has been less discussion about his spending proposals, since they are not complete, and because Congress has until the start of the new fiscal year on October 1 to act on them.

There has been some reaction to the Administration's S&T budget request. Among those commenting have been Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM), Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-MI) and NSF Director Rita Colwell. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has also commented broadly on research funding. Selections from their statements follow:

SENATOR DOMENICI:

Senator Domenici is a key figure in determining the parameters of the FY 2002 budget. As chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Domenici will play a major role in writing the Senate Budget Resolution, which will help set the broad outlines of federal spending. His comments yesterday at a Budget Committee hearing on NIH funding are of great interest. In addressing Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, Domenici declared:

"You come before us, Mr. Secretary, and you say . . . we're very proud that we're increasing the National Institutes of Health. Now, I shouldn't be a senator complaining about that, but I want to tell you, you can't increase one piece of science in America . . . and leave the other kinds of research in the doldrums."

"You will have to come to the realization, and the president will, that to increase NIH 20 percent and not to increase the National Science Foundation, which has only got a $100 million increase in its budget . . . those aren't going to mesh. In about five years, you're going to have the medical scientists clamoring for where are the physical scientists, where are the physicists, where are the people that work on the newest physics of machinery and engineers and nano-engines and the like? And then they're going to look over, 'Where else do we do research?' and it's going to be the Department of Energy. And they do some outstanding research that is ancillary to, if not necessary to, the NIH's success. And you can't have both. You can't cut the DOE's research programs and think that the NIH is going to succeed at curing all of our ills."

SENATOR BINGAMAN:

Senator Bingaman is ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. A statement from Bingaman cautioned:

"This proposal appears to cut programs - such as basic science, renewable energy, and oil and gas research and development - by about $1 billion. Clearly, we don't know all the details of the plan, nor do we know where a majority of the cuts will fall, but it's hard to see how we can have a comprehensive energy strategy while making cuts to R&D."

"DOE civilian R&D programs also play an important role in supporting excellence at our national laboratories, particularly in helping to attract the best and the brightest young scientists and engineers to those labs. I'm concerned about what kind of impact these cuts could have on our labs."

"I've written to President Bush on behalf of a bipartisan group of senators asking for an increase in spending for these key areas of civilian science. When the budget and appropriations processes end later this year, I hope that we will end up with an increase in these important programs."

REPRESENTATIVE RIVERS:

Representative Rivers is a senior member of the House Science Committee. A statement released by the Democratic membership of the Science Committee contained a statement by Rivers:

"This budget request remains sketchy, but what we do know suggests that our science programs will not receive adequate support from the Bush Administration."

"The President is to be congratulated for understanding how important health research is at NIH - keeping that agency on track to double its budget. However, I hope that the administration will reconsider its requests for NSF and NASA. Neither of those critical agencies are scheduled to receive increases that would even keep pace with inflation and that just isn't wise. If we are going to keep developing a new, information-based economy, we have to invest in the research initiatives that drive that growth. This budget looks like it will fall short on that account."

NSF DIRECTOR COLWELL:

Director Colwell's statement focused on the Bush Administration's initiatives for the NSF:

"I am pleased that the President has selected the National Science Foundation to lead his Math and Science Partnership Initiative. Investing in people is the first goal in NSF's strategic plan, and we have. The NSF has a long-standing commitment to excellence in K-12 math and science education. I look forward to working with the Administration and the Congress on this vital effort."

"I also welcome the strengthened investment in mathematics research, which drives progress in so many science and engineering disciplines. I also enthusiastically welcome the focus on graduate student stipends, which - as I have often said - are long overdue for an increase. The President's priorities clearly mirror our own in these areas."

"The added emphasis on efforts to improve efficiency also addresses longstanding NSF priorities - particularly the need to increase grant size and duration. All of this should set the stage for strong and sustained investments in research and education over the long term."

FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN GREENSPAN:

Chairman Greenspan testified at a House Budget Committee hearing last week. In response to a question from Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) regarding "continuing, if not increasing, government support for research, particularly basic research," Greenspan responded:

"On the issue of research, there is just no question that if you're going to have technology as the base of your economy, which we do, research is crucial."

"It's another issue to make a judgment as to where that research should take place. And that, again, is really a fundamental judgment of the Congress. And it's a tricky question of how much applied research should government do, how much basic research, and where. And there are large discussions and debates on that. But that we should in some way or other enhance the incentives to do research in this economy, there is just no question. If we don't, we're going to find that we are in a position where we may have awesome technologies, but if you don't continuously nurture them, they won't continue to exist."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3095

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