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January 30, 2007

Good News for Science in the FY 07 CR

It appears House and Senate appropriators have reached a final agreement on the "continuing resolution" for FY 2007 and it looks like good news for federal science agencies. For weeks now we (and the other members of the science community) have been concerned that FY 2007 appropriations debacle would freeze agencies like NSF, NIST, and DOE's Office of Science at FY 2006 levels, postponing planned increases to the agencies called for in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and approved by the full House and the Senate Appropriations Committee. However, in a joint continuing resolution filed last night, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee chairs agreed to exempt NSF, NIST, and DOE Office of Science (and NIH additionally) from the CR and provide increases to each agency's FY 2007 budget.

While the agencies won't receive the full amounts they requested as part of ACI, each agency should receive significantly more than they received in FY 2006. Under the agreement, NSF's research accounts would receive a 6 7.7 percent increase, slightly below the 7.8 percent matching the increase called for in the ACI, but $335 million more than FY 2006.* NIST would receive $50 million in additional funding for its core research budget. DOE Office of Science would see $200 million more than FY 06, plus the elimination of $127.8 million in earmarks that would then be available for competitive research. And NIH, while not officially part of the ACI and expecting flat-funding in FY 07, would see an increase of $619.5 million -- which, according to the appropriations committee, would "support an additional 500 research project grants, 1,500 first time investigators, and expand funding for high risk and high-impact research."

Given where we thought we might be as a result of the CR, this is great news. The agreement was announced by both House Appropriations Chair David Obey (D-WI) and Senate Appropriations Chair Robert Byrd (D-WV), so it's a good bet that the bill will pass in its current form. The House will vote on the CR on Wednesday and the Senate will take it up soon after.

This is a big win for the science community. Protecting these increases for the federal investment in science in a resolution that cut more than 60 other domestic programs below FY 2006 levels sends a powerful signal that basic research is a national priority. Science was one of just a few priorities protected by Congressional Democrats in the bill -- it joins federal highway programs, veteran's health care, the FBI and local law enforcement, and Pell grant funding. The science community -- along with its partners in industry -- weighed in heavily in support of ACI funding, and its clear that advocacy had the desired effect. So thanks to all of you who joined with CRA as part of the Computing Research Advocacy Network to help make the case for science. It's clear your voices were heard!

We'll have more details as this bill moves towards final passage. Then it's on to FY 2008, which just might be off to a good start.

Update: (5:50 pm, 1/31/07) -- The House easily passed the measure today, unamended, by a vote of 286-140. The Senate should take up the resolution next week.

Update: (4:22 pm, 2/8/07) -- * a closer look at the numbers actually in the resolution show that it only specifically calls out NSF's R&RA account, increasing it $335 million over FY 2006 to $4.7 billion (matching the Administration's request). It appears the remainder of NSF's accounts aren't addressed in the resolution and so they'll stay at FY 06 levels.

The Senate is considering the resolution today. The Senate Democrats have apparently blocked any amendments to the resolution from Republicans (using some of the Senate's arcane procedural techniques), so it's likely it will pass in its current form.

Posted by PeterHarsha at January 30, 2007 10:33 AM
Posted to American Competitiveness Initiative | FY07 Appropriations | Funding