the Senate voted to increase the amount of money that it would provide
to fund the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Energy's
Office of Science. This bipartisan expression of support in the Senate
Budget Resolution is an important indication of how the Senate views science,
and what it may do later this year when it starts its consideration of
the FY 2002 appropriations bills. Other actions this week were also encouraging.
This vote to increase
science funding is one of a series of actions that have occurred since
President Bush released his Budget Blueprint. D. Allan Bromley, White
House Science Advisor for the first President Bush, authored an op-ed
in The New York Times that called proposed cuts to scientific
research "a self-defeating policy." Calling on Congress to increase
federal funding for science, Bromley ended his op-ed with a conclusion
that has been repeatedly cited: "No science, no surplus. It's that simple."
The House Science Committee issued a report that called the NSF request
"minuscule" and repeatedly expressed concern about various S&T budgets.
House Budget Committee member Rush Holt (D-NJ) attempted to increase
general science funding in the House Budget Resolution (the counterpart
to the Senate resolution considered last night) but was unsuccessful,
as the House voted along party lines.
It was the willingness
of the Senate to break from party line voting that made last night's
action significant. The amendment to increase this "Function 250" funding
was offered by Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO), and was cosponsored
by Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT),
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Bill Frist (R-TN) and George Allen (R-VA).
his amendment, Bond, who is chairman of the House VA, HUD, Independent
Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, said "I think we can all agree
that research and development is a positive and critical investment
for the economic and intellectual growth and well-being of our Nation."
Bond's amendment added $1.44 billion over Bush's request that could
be made available to NSF, NASA, and DOE. He said that he was "very supportive"
of the NIH funding increases and "very concerned" that its research
could be jeopardized without the adequate support of NSF research. "To
be blunt, supporting NSF supports NIH," he told his colleagues. Bond's
amendment would continue the doubling momentum for NSF. In discussing
this amendment, Domenici cited the additional $469 million for DOE.
Minority Member on the subcommittee, called the President's numbers
"unacceptable." She outlined the importance of basic research in all
disciplines to medicine and the economy. "Federal funding for basic
scientific research is absolutely necessary for economic growth and
job creation," she said. "With all that is confronting us, now is precisely
the wrong time to cut funding for scientific research," Mikulski added.
In describing the amendment, Bingaman said that "it would try to bring
funding for research and development in the physical sciences on a par
with the funding for the research and development that is pursued in
the life sciences through" NIH.
In addition to
this successful Senate action, there were other developments. Earlier
this week, thirteen Republican and Democratic members of the House Science
Committee wrote to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young
(R-FL) asking him to consider making funding for the science agencies
a high priority, especially that for NSF. "Failure to bolster our support
for the basic sciences would be a mistake," they warned. Included with
their letter was the Bromley editorial. The signatories of this letter
were: Research Subcommittee Chairman Nick Smith (R-MI); Subcommittee
Ranking Minority Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX); Environment, Technology
and Standards Subcommittee Chairman Vern Ehlers (R-MI); Science Committee
Ranking Minority Member Ralph Hall (D-TX); Energy Subcommittee Chairman
Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD); Mark Udall (D-CO); Tim Johnson (R-IL); Lynn
Rivers (D-MI); Judy Biggert (R-IL); Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX); Ken Calvert
(R-CA); Environment Subcommittee Ranking Minority Member James Barcia
(D-MI) and Constance Morella (R-MD).
Rep. Eddie Bernice
Johnson introduced legislation on Wednesday to authorize the doubling
of the National Science Foundation budget over the period 2001-2005.
Johnson is the Ranking Minority Member on the Research Subcommittee.
In describing her bill, H.R. 1472, Johnson said, "The question, rather,
is what ought to be the level of the Federal research investment? The
bill I am introducing takes the position that it is too low in the President's
Budget Blueprint, particularly for basic research in the fields for
which NSF is a major funding agency: the physical sciences, mathematics,
and engineering." This bill provides for a 15% annual increase for NSF
from FY 2002-2005. The Johnson bill has sixteen Democratic cosponsors
from the House Science Committee.
The senators and
representatives named above have spoken up in support of science and
technology, and their efforts should be recognized and acknowledged.
Despite these early encouraging signs about the FY 2002 budget, the
old adage, "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched," is particularly
apt. The President is largely setting the fiscal pace for half the members
of the House and Senate, and the budget which he sends to Congress on
Monday is almost certainly going to call for flat or almost flat funding
for science programs. Competition for funding in the appropriations
bills is going to be especially strong this year. Vocal constituents
are likely to be successful constituents.