Science funding cuts stayed, still in Senate version of recovery bill

Science Debate 2008 continues to use the support and network it developed last year to keep attention on the related issues during the Obama administration.  Here is the latest success, related to the recovery bill:

Well it’s been a long, long day with thousands of , but we are happy to report that your efforts, and those of the rest of the U.S. science and technology community, have paid off in a big way – for the time being.

Senators Nelson, Collins, Lieberman and Specter held a press conference earlier this evening, also crediting Senator Snowe, and followed up by Senate Majority Leader Reid, declaring a compromise bill has been reached on the stimulus package.  You can read the exact line items of the bill here in an xls document, but the parts we focused on today are below:

Agency Original Senate bill budget amt
Proposed cut this morning % prop cut Cut in final compromise % final cut Final compromise bill budget amt Science funding you preserved
NASA $1,502,000,000 $750,000,000 50 $200,000,000 13.31 $1,302,000,000 $550,000,000
NSF $1,402,000,000 $1,402,000,000 100 $200,000,000 14.26 $1,202,000,000 $1,202,000,000
NOAA $1,222,000,000 $427,000,000 34.94 $200,000,000 16.37 $1,022,000,000 $227,000,000
NIST $575,000,000 $218,000,000 37.91 $100,000,000 17.39 $475,000,000 $118,000,000
DOE enrgy effy & renewbl energy $2,648,000,000 $1,000,000,000 38 0 0 $2,648,000,000 $1,000,000,000
DOE offc of science $100,000,000 $100,000,000 100 $100,000,000 100 0 0
Totals $7,449,000,000 $3,897,000,000 52.32 $800,000,000 10.74 $6,649,000,000 $3,097,000,000

This is a terrific $3 billion victory for U.S. Science – thank you!

This bill will be voted on by the full Senate on Monday.  It could still fail then.  But it reportedly has the strong support of President Obama, and if it passes it will form the (likely strongly prejudiced) basis for conference committee negotiations.

Let it be noted: Science Debate is made up of people of wide political diversity, and there are some of us who question whether research belongs in a stimulus package at all.  Neither do we see Science Debate as a legislative advocacy initiative.  However these are exceptional times with high stakes and there is no guarantee that the political appetite for new money will not be exhausted after this major package.  Additionally, we believe scientific research is one of the best investments in stimulating economic growth in both the short and long term that this country can possibly make in a science-dominated global economy.  Here are some ways these contemplated amounts are stimulative:

1. Literally ‘shovel ready’:  the American Physical Society identified billions in ‘shovel ready’ science programs that include immediate construction items associated with science.   So, much of what is being targeted as ‘research’ and therefore not stimulative, is in fact direct stimulus for construction and expenditures.

2.  Stimulus money for federal science funding agencies will translate into support for thousands of graduate students and postdocs this year and next year, as faculty who get funded hire them.  This is a good way to create high quality jobs right away and to invest in the future at the same time.  NSF supports over 2,000 institutions and reaches nearly 200,000 researchers, postdoctoral fellows, trainees, teachers, and students every year.

3. Current economic conditions have hit the states particularly hard.  Many are experiencing severe budget constraints and growing job losses.  In many regions, universities and colleges are the main employer, and the source of economic growth in local and regional economies.  Any additional funding targeted to NSF has an immediate and direct effect on high-quality jobs and economic growth across America.

4. A report, for example, from the Council for Chemical Research concludes that a federal investment of $1 billion in R&D funding in the chemical sciences can be leveraged into $40 billion in GNP and 600,000 jobs.  NSF is the principal agency that supports research across all disciplines of science and engineering, including the chemical sciences.

Finally, as you may have heard Matthew announce today on Science Friday, after a year of delay, we finally received 501(c)(3) status today.  Contributions made on or after January 7, 2008 are tax deductible.

Thanks!  If you like our work and want us to continue, please Contribute Now.

The team at

Also, if you’ve ever wanted to find good science blogs, they have a great list here.

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