"Science: The Committee-reported resolution assumes
full funding of the President's request for the Department of Energy
Office of Science and the National Science Foundation. This funding
level will support scientific research tools for economically significant
R&D, bolstering K-12 education including Math and Science Partnerships,
high-end computing, advanced networking, nanotechnology, biotechnology,
and science research. This funding is critical in supporting world-class
federal research facilities and advancing innovation and discovery.
Within Function 250, the resolution assumes full funding of the President's
request for NASA."
"Natural Resources and Environment: The Committee-reported
resolution endorses the recommendations of the U. S. Commission on
Ocean Policy. The resolution assumes that the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is funded at not less than the fiscal
year 2006 level."
"Education: The Committee recognizes that a well-educated
and skilled workforce is essential to maintaining America's role as
a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. In this regard,
the Committee-reported resolution includes the President's request
for $412 million in 2007 for new math and science education initiatives
and programs to ensure students have access to highly skilled teachers."
The Senate resolution's numbers reflect these words. The category known
as Function 250 for General Science, Space, and Technology provides
research funding for NASA, DOE's general science programs, National
Science Foundation, and Department of Homeland Security. The resolution
proposes a 5.2% or $1,302 million increase in this spending for FY 2007.
These numbers are far from certain dollars for FY 2007. They do demonstrate
the Senate's general concurrence with the president's recommended funding
increases for NSF and DOE science programs, the math and science education
initiatives, and the NASA request. The absence of these numbers in the
budget resolution would have been a negative sign. In other words, so
far, so good in the Senate.
The situation is less clear in the House, as its budget committee delayed
markup of its budget resolution until next week. Many observers question
whether the House will be able to craft a resolution, and it is uncertain
how the committee, and the House leadership, will respond to the president's
S&T request. An even larger unknown is whether the Senate and the
House will be able to agree on a final document that would play a major
role in setting spending parameters.
There is also positive news in the Senate regarding the three bill
package, "Protecting American's Competitive Edge" (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/013.html.)
S. 2197 authorizes an "Advanced Research Projects Authority - Energy"
as well as several DOE mathematics, science and engineering initiatives.
The bill is cosponsored by 67 senators, was reported without delay out
of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and awaits action
on the Senate floor. S. 2198, Protecting America's Competitive Edge
Through Education and Research Act, has 62 cosponsors. Two hearings
have been held on this bill by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor
and Pensions. The third bill, S. 2199, would increase the tax credit
for increasing research activities from 20% to 40% and make the credit
permanent. This bill is now in the Senate Finance Committee, and enjoys
the support of 62 cosponsors.
The situation in the House is much less certain. The House Republican
leadership unveiled H.R. 4845, the Innovation and Competitiveness Act,
at a press conference in the Capitol earlier this month. The briefing
featured House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Majority Leader John
Boehner (R-OH), Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and other senior Republican
leaders. The bill has six major titles: "reduce red tape and create
opportunities for economic growth" (business activity tax simplification
and attorney accountability), "increase America's talent pool"
(Innovation Scholarship Program), "promotion of research and development"
(research tax credit), "increase access to and efficiency of health
care" and "seamless mobility." The bill's sponsor, Rep.
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said the top goal is "get the government out
of the way." The bill was referred to five House committees, and
has six Republican cosponsors. When introducing his bill on the floor,
Goodlatte explained, "this legislation will promote research and
development by permanently extending the R&D tax credit. Companies
know best how to spend their money on research and development, not
government bureaucracies." Hastert did, in his remarks, state that
the bill was a complement to the American Competitiveness Initiative.
It was of note that during this briefing there was no mention by the
senior House leadership of the National Science Foundation, DOE Office
of Science, other major research agencies or FY 2007 S&T appropriations.
House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), speaking
toward the end of the presentation, did discuss these topics, and said
of the bill, "this package is a fine complement to the spending
and programmatic aspects of the President's American Competitiveness
Initiative, but, we all agree, it is no substitute for them." Boehlert
said his committee will be developing its own bills, saying "we
want to make sure that we come up with a targeted, affordable set of
real solutions, not a laundry list of buzzwords." He later added,
"In the meantime, we'll be continuing to work closely with our
friends on Appropriations behind the scenes."
Boehlert's Democratic counterpart on the Science Committee, Bart Gordon
(D-TN) introduced three bills in late December and early January that
would implement many of the major recommendations in the National Academies
report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/155.html.)
HR 4434 incorporates many of the report's K-12 science education recommendations
and has 43 cosponsors, all but two of which are Democrats. H.R. 4435
would establish the "Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy"
within the Department of Energy. A Science Committee hearing was held
on this bill, which now has 31 Democratic cosponsors. H.R. 4596 would
authorize appropriations for basic research and research infrastructure
for FY 2007 through FY 2011 for NSF, DOE, NASA, and NIST, and basic
research activities at DOD. This bill has six Democratic cosponsors.
Appropriations hearings will provide further indications. Chairman
Frank Wolf (R-VA) and his colleagues on the House Appropriations Subcommittee
on Science, State, Justice and Commerce held a hearing on the NSF request
for a 7.9% increase earlier this month. Reports state this two-hour
hearing went well.
It is difficult to discern the overall thinking of the House regarding
the American Competitiveness Initiative and the Administration's budget
request for science and technology programs for FY 2007. In contrast
to the three Senate bills that enjoy truly bipartisan support, support
for the four House bills described above almost completely follows party
lines. Last November, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) identified
innovation as the Democratic Party's "top priority" in 2006
H.R. 4845 was the Republican response to this initiative. At the press
briefing, House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA) said he
hoped that Congress would work in a bipartisan manner to face the economic
challenges posed by nations such as China and India.
Perhaps the framing of the next step that should be taken was best
summarized by House Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Wolf during
the NSF budget hearing. Wolf appealed to individuals in the science
community to make every effort to demonstrate support for the historic
budget increases for NSF, DOE Office of Science, and NIST research that
were recommended in the American Competitiveness Initiative. See http://www.aip.org/gov/nb1.html
for suggestions on how to do so, and easy-to-use links to email systems.
Now is the time.