On Friday, the U. S. House and Senate passed Federal Budget Legislation to fund the Government for the 2016 Fiscal Year, which ends next September 30th. As part of the deal, a number of key departments will receive additions to their science budgets. Keep in mind that, with our generally dysfunctional Congress, this is only for nine months.
In recent years, NASA’s next generation of weather satellites, which aid in tracking and predicting weather patterns, had previously been delayed. Vital climate and health research had to deal with budget cuts. And considerable funding for general scientific research and implementation was generally cut-back. This lack of priority, unfortunately, is somewhat due to key Congressional Committees being led by Republicans who seem to view scientific funding as a veritable cookie jar to raid at will.
The new budget, however, includes the following:
• The National Institutes of Health will have a $2 billion budget increase, the largest in 12 years. The NIH is the key provider of health-related research grants for universities and other research facilities.
• Congress will finally make the Research and Development tax credit permanent.
• The Food and Drug Administration will get a five percent increase in its budget, and there will be a ban on gene editing.
• The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will have a 6.6% increase in its science budget.
• The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration will have a four percent increase in its budget.
• It appears that the Department of Energy will eventually have more research funding; however, the specific amount is presently unspecified.
• Previously-scheduled cuts in Department of Defense research will be reversed.
A key ingredient that separates nations that are on-the-rise, as compared to those in stagnation, is an emphasis in strategic funding for: education; science; technology and research. Short-changing these areas will just hold a nation back in today’s ever-changing digital world. We just cannot afford to be left behind!