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FYI THIS MONTH: APRIL 2001

HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN WASHINGTON IMPACTING THE PHYSICS COMMUNITY FROM FYI, THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS BULLETIN OF SCIENCE POLICY NEWS

Richard M. Jones, Audrey T. Leath
fyithismonth@aip.org

FY 2002 BUDGET REQUEST: President Bush submitted his FY02 request to Congress on April 9. Under the request, funding for NSF, NASA, DOE science, and DOD 6.1-6.3 would increase less than the expected rate of inflation. Total NIST funding would decrease 18.4%, while NIH funding would grow 13.5%. Details of the request are provided for NSF (FYIs #43, 46, 47, 49, 50, and 51), NASA(FYIs #44, 45), NIST and NOAA (FYI #48), DOE physics programs (FYI #53), and USGS (FYI #54). The requests for math and science education within NSF and the Education Department are covered in FYI #52.

KEY CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES: Many Members of Congress report that they hear very little from their constituents regarding science funding or science policy. Web sites are listed for the major committees with jurisdiction over programs tracked by FYI; they provide committee rosters, contact and jurisdictional information, news, hearing schedules and testimony.

CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT, BUSH REMARKS: A recent U.S. Global Change Research Program document analyzes 21st century climate change scenarios based on projections of a 5- to 9-degree warming in average U.S. temperatures. On March 29, President Bush stated that "we're now in an energy crisis. And that's why I decided to not have mandatory caps on CO2".

ENERGY SECRETARY SUPPORTS NIF: Based on a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham "has decided not to make any changes in the design, construction and operation of the National Ignition Facility".

SCIENCE FUNDING IN CONGRESS: In a positive sign for the upcoming appropriations process, the Senate voted on April 5 to increase funding for NSF, NASA, and DOE's Office of Science as part of the Budget Resolution. Similar efforts were attempted in the House, and at an April 25 hearing, House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) declared to witnesses from NSF, NASA, NOAA, and DOE's Office of Science, "I intend to work with my colleagues...to start building up these budgets now".

BLUE RIBBON PANEL ON ASTRONOMY: Based on a recommendation in Bush's budget blueprint, a National Research Council committee has been established to review whether NSF's astronomy responsibilities should be transferred to NASA, and to consider alternatives.

RESPONSES TO FY02 BUDGET REQUEST: House Science Committee Democrats criticized the Bush budget for exacerbating the unbalance between biomedical and physical sciences R&D, and "completely derailing" NSF's five-year doubling path. An OMB official stated that R&D is "a clear priority" in the request with a proposed growth rate higher than that of overall discretionary spending, while an AAAS analysis noted that proposed increases for DOD and NIH R&D would leave "all other R&D funding agencies combined with less money than in FY 2001".

USGS BUDGET REDUCTIONS QUESTIONED: In two hearings, appropriators were skeptical of the proposed 7.9% budget cut slated for USGS in the President's request. A senior Republican appropriator told the Interior Secretary, "I hope you will rethink" the reductions.