FEDERAL BUDGET PUTS MORE MONEY BACK INTO SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY

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!

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  1. #1 by Russell Manning on December 20, 2015 - 7:46 AM

    Mindful of the already upon us election year, the unable to govern, incompetent Republicans decided they better make nice with the budget, and even though not a single one of them is a scientist, deep down in their hearts they know that science is correct, valid, evidence-based, tested, peer evaluated, re-tested by skeptics, and as Jeb Bush’s Florida is sinking, climate change is for real, let’s throw science a bone in the budget. Do they know they’re going to lose the White House yet again? And does Paul Ryan recognize that the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus are also playing nice but come January, he is going to develop great empathy for Boehner?

    • #2 by cheekos on December 20, 2015 - 1:31 PM

      I agree completely. When Boehner was allegedly “in charge” of the House, they all looked like the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight. Luckily, they didn’t get their hands on actual guns, huh? And the country surely noticed their Melt-down when, after Boehner met the Pope and saw the light, they realized that only the “Enlightened One” could lead the House. Paul Ryan? Really? That’s when all Hell broke loose. Now that the “New Guy” is Speaker, the Freedom Caucus (always those cute names, huh?) is playing nice with him. At least, for now…

      If you watched last Tuesday night’s GOP Debate, you might recall hearing what this Gang–especially Trump and Christie–might do if they ever got their hands on nuclear weapons. Be sure to see the “Dr. Strangelove” movie before the next GOP Debate!

  2. #3 by cheekos on December 22, 2015 - 7:33 PM

    Given the fact that NASA had retired the Space Shuttle program, we have been having to rely on Russia to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Perhaps a bit of the GOP-controlled Congress’ interest in increasing the NASA budget might have been in order to re-introduce our own ferrying capacity, and stop depending on Russia.

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