Following a failed attempt last year, Congress has passed the bipartisan “NASA Transition Authorization Act.” The bill, which emphasizes human space exploration, affirms existing NASA priorities. However, it leaves ambiguous policy concerning contentious issues such as NASA’s Earth science activities.
A draft version of the fiscal year 2018 budget outline for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposes a 17 percent cut in funding for the weather and climate agency. NOAA research would face a 26 percent cut, while satellites and data would be cut 22 percent.
Mick Mulvaney, the new director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, has been a leader in efforts to downsize the federal government. During the Senate confirmation process, he said he believes there is a “proper role for federal government in research.”
At a meeting of the American Physical Society, two physicist-congressmen and a former top federal science official discussed challenges the science community may face in the coming years and sketched out ways to respond.
The Senate is expected to confirm Rick Perry as secretary of energy following a relatively uncontentious hearing on Jan. 19, at which the former Texas governor vowed to be a champion for all Department of Energy activities. However, Perry’s support has been partially overshadowed by a report that the Trump administration plans to target DOE for deep budget cuts and program eliminations.
Among presidents, Barack Obama took an unusually strong interest in science and technology, and his administration pursued a wide array of S&T-related initiatives. However, early hopes for major expansions in R&D funding remained largely unfulfilled.
The president’s budget and House and Senate appropriations proposals for fiscal year 2017 included multiple funding and programmatic changes for the federal science agencies, but these changes are in limbo after lawmakers extended the federal government’s spending on a continuing resolution through April 28.
Today, the president signed a stopgap spending bill that extends current fiscal year funding for the federal government through Dec. 9. With Congress recessing at the end of this week to campaign for the general election, major science-related legislation will not see further movement earlier than mid-November.
A group of industry, higher education, and scientific organizations has reissued a statement calling for Congress to increase federal support of basic research, streamline research regulations, and reaffirm merit-based review, among other actions.