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FYI Number 30: March 12, 2004

Science Committee Democrats on Administration's S&T Budget Request

Eighteen of the nineteen Democrats on the House Science Committee have signed a hard-hitting analysis of the Bush Administration's FY 2005 request for civilian science and technology programs. The seven page document, entitled "Additional Democratic Views and Estimates on the FY2005 Budget for Civilian Science and Technology Programs," was signed by all the committee's Democrats except Rep. Brian Baird (D- WA). No Republican members of the Science Committee endorsed these Additional Views.

The Science Committee recently filed its "Views and Estimates" report, which is to guide the House Budget Committee as it makes its funding decisions. This report, written by the committee's Republican staff, can be accessed at http://www.house.gov/science/press/108/views05.pdf This report was signed by both Republican and Democratic members of the Science Committee. Selections from the Democratic Views and Estimates follow, with paragraphs combined in the interest of space:

OVERALL: "Each failure to invest in infrastructure, in education, or in innovation can contribute to the costs of doing business in America and create a rationale for businesses to close their doors, for jobs to be moved offshore, and for opportunities to simply slip away. Innovation is about responding to real public needs today to guarantee that our citizens have jobs and a better quality of life tomorrow. At a time when we have suffered three years of recession and jobless recovery, and at a time when more businesses are moving work to foreign operations, a stagnant level of investment, as we find in the President's FY 2005 budget submission, is simply unacceptable. We have to do better. We would concede that such a task is almost beyond our measure due to the horrific Federal deficit that we face. This year's budget request alone will probably add at least $600 billion to the national debt when costs of the occupation of Iraq are finally accounted for. Given that burden, it is hard to argue for increasing funding for investments, but it is just such investments in our economy and our people that can help get us out of the hole dug by this Administration's fiscal choices. So not only do we have to do better than the Administration's proposal, we cannot wait for a future Administration, having wrestled this irresponsible deficit to the ground, to take action. Investments have to happen in this next fiscal year."

FIRST RECOMMENDATION: "Increase civilian R&D spending in function 250 and function 270 by at least five percent in the FY 2005 budget. . . . Only after intense activity on the part of many interested scientific and industry groups, and by a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress, was the NSF-doubling bill enacted. That bill, and other efforts to increase funding for the physical sciences, are emblematic of the broad recognition that funding for R&D in the physical sciences has lagged dangerously in recent years. For this reason, and recognizing the staggering problem we face with the current deficit, we are recommending a modest 5 percent increase in funding for functions 250 (Science) and 270 (Energy) of the Federal budget. Any number for increased R&D investment is somewhat arbitrary. However, we believe that a 5% increase for these functions is a good place to start and hope that an improved budgetary climate will allow these figures to increase dramatically in future budgets. We simply must improve upon the President's budget for NSF, which falls $1.6 billion below the level he endorsed in H.R. 4664. A 5% increase would also allow us to move towards the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) goal of bringing the physical sciences and engineering into parity with the life sciences. . . . We suspect there are many budgetary choices that could be made to meet our goal of a five percent increase in R&D funding. The Budget Committee has the cross-cutting responsibility and authority to tend to these needs right now, and we encourage that Committee to do so."

SECOND RECOMMENDATION: "Until the Congress has better information on which to judge the long-term cost of the President's Moon/Mars initiative, we believe that NASA's FY 2005 funding request should be reallocated in a manner that strengthens NASA's existing programs, helps address the backlog of deferred maintenance at NASA's facilities, ensures that the Shuttle will continue to fly safely for as long as it is needed, ensures that the International Space Station will be a safe and productive facility, makes a start on a replacement means of getting U.S. astronauts into space, and enables the analyses that will be needed to develop a viable and sustainable exploration agenda."

THIRD RECOMMENDATION: "Programs under the Committee's jurisdiction that enhance the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing and promote innovation should be fully funded. These programs include the Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) and the Advanced Technology Partnership (ATP) in the Department of Commerce, as well as cooperative government/industry/university programs funded through other civilian agencies, including NASA, NIST, and the Department of Energy."

Following the above, the document provides an "Analysis of the President's FY 2005 budget for R&D." It charges that "highly selective or inaccurate numbers" and "tricky accounting" were employed by the Administration, and states that:

"The Request for Science Funding is Flat - The Administration brags about a 5% increase for R&D spending in 2005, but fails to mention that the increase is largely targeted for weapons development and other defense programs. In our view, the most representative measure of R&D funding, and the measure which best captures the economic and broader societal benefits of R&D funding, is the concept of the 'Federal S&T budget' (FST), which the National Academy of Sciences developed several years ago. FST includes civilian R&D and defense R&D, but not weapons development. Page 61 of the 'Analytical Perspectives' document, from the Administration's own package of FY 2005 budget documents, actually shows a decrease of 0.4 percent in proposed FST funding. This is the first time that any President has requested a decrease in the FST since it has been tracked. Further, government-wide funding for basic research would increase by only 0.6% and funding for applied research by only 0.5% - both well below the rate of inflation."

Other sections of this document discuss job creation, earmarks, the doubling of the National Science Foundation budget, the Human Space Flight Initiative, and the Department of Commerce's Advanced Technology Program and Manufacturing Extension Program. The entire document can be viewed on the Democratic Caucus section of the Science Committee's website at: http://www.house.gov/science_democrats/welcome.htm

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

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