FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

Update on Economic Stimulus Legislation

Richard M. Jones
Number 8 - January 26, 2009  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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Congress and the Obama Administration are expected to make significant progress this week on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. If all goes according to schedule, this bill will be on President Obama's desk before February 16.

HOUSE:

As outlined in FYIs #4 and 7, the House Appropriations Committee, and other relevant committees, completed their consideration of this legislation last week. It will be taken up by the full House on Wednesday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) commented that "we're on schedule for our timetable to have a bill on the President's desk to be signed before the President's Day recess [February 16]. I feel certain we will succeed."

SENATE:

Late Friday, the Senate Appropriations Committee issued a seven-page summary of the highlights of their version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

In explaining the bill, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) stated, "These investments will not only create jobs now, but will also address neglected priorities here at home and lay the foundation for economic growth in the long term." Following a list of various indicators of the worsening condition of the American economy, the statement explains, "To meet these enormous challenges, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan focuses on five areas critical to rebuilding our economy and creating the conditions for economic growth in the long-term: Infrastructure and Science; Education and Training; Energy; Protecting the Vulnerable; and Health. It is estimated that this legislation will create or sustain over 4 million jobs."

Among the summary's highlights are the following:

"National Science Foundation (NSF) Research: $1.4 billion in funding for scientific research, infrastructure and competitive grants."

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): $1.5 Billion for NASA, including $500 million for Earth science missions to provide critical data about the Earth’s resources and climate."

"$40 billion to the Department of Energy for development of clean, efficient, American energy."

"$3.5 billion to conduct biomedical research in areas such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and stem cells, and to improve NIH facilities."

The statement included the following notation: "The following is a summary of the highlights of the proposed legislation only - not a complete listing of all the programs or spending included in the legislation."

The entire summary may be viewed at here under "Latest News" for 01/23/2009/

The Senate Appropriations Committee will take up this bill tomorrow, January 27.

WHITE HOUSE:

The Obama Administration has produced a four-page document entitled "The American Reinvestment and Recovery Plan – By the Numbers." This document explains: "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is designed not only to jumpstart our economy and create jobs, but to lay the foundation for a more competitive 21st century economy. Through investments in clean energy, health care, education and other areas, the plan will address long ignored national priorities and while making a down payment on our nation’s economic future."

Included under "Detailed Benchmarks" is the following:

"Tripling the number of undergraduate and graduate fellowships in science, to help spur the next generation of home grown scientific innovation."

This document can be read here.

REACTION:

There are one hundred and fourteen signatories on a January 23 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI), House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA), and House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) regarding the legislation. Among the signatories are the American Institute of Physics and two of its Member Societies, the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America.

The letter, on the letterhead of "Tapping America's Potential" and the "Task Force on the Future of American Innovation" (to which AIP and APS belong) states:

"As leaders of American business, science and higher education, we commend you for your leadership on the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The research and education investments in the Act provide immediate relief for America’s struggling workers and families by creating new jobs and stimulating new economic activity while laying a strong foundation for future American prosperity.

"Innovation is the key to long-term economic security and renewed American technology leadership. The wise investments in math and science education, science and engineering research, and scientific research facilities included in this bill will strengthen America’s capacity to innovate and will create a stronger, more resilient U.S. economy and a more highly skilled U.S. workforce. The provisions for research infrastructure investments will create new jobs in the construction trades and manufacturing while expanding the horizons of a whole generation of young scientists and engineers. By investing in innovation, the bill creates a platform for greater long-term economic growth, stable employment and a higher standard of living for all Americans.

"The research and education provisions in the Act fit President Obama’s criteria of providing short-term stimulus while laying a foundation for long-term growth. They also fulfill the promise of the America COMPETES Act, passed by Congress in 2007, which established the policy framework to ensure that America is more prepared to compete in the world economy.

"We salute you for your vision, your hard work and your tenacious advocacy on behalf of American technology and innovation. We pledge our support to ensure the research and education investments included in the bill are enacted into law."

The letter, including the list of its signatories, can be viewed here under "What's New" for January 23, 2009.

In a related action, AIP's Executive Director and CEO, Fred Dylla, earlier wrote to key members of the House leadership about the stimulus legislation, stating:

"I write in strong support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. Its proposed levels of funding for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Geological Survey will provide the basis for significantly enhancing our nation’s technological strength in the future, enabling future U.S. high-technology industries and resulting in employment of many Americans."

He later explained:

"Increasingly, articles submitted for publication in AIP’s 12 journals, and other journals that we publish for scientific and professional organizations, are authored by scientists working in foreign laboratories. The 2.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that the U.S. spends per year on research and development (R&D) is surpassed by the approximately 3.4% and 3.3% that are spent by Japan and South Korea, respectively. While the percentage of GDP spent on R&D in the U.S. has remained approximately constant over this last decade, China has doubled its percentage, to the current level of approximately 1.5%, and it is steadily rising. For America to maintain or grow its share of high-technology jobs, it will have to provide the levels of federal support for R&D authorized in the America COMPETES Act."

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