Federal Research Funding

Congress should lift the caps on non-defense discretionary spending, and increase funding for federal science agencies.

Federal Research FundingAPS is against the proposed cuts the Trump administration suggested for science in its fiscal year 2018 budget. This proposal includes a 17% cut for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, an 11% cut for the National Science Foundation, and a 15% cut for R&D at the National Institute of Standards & Technology (see Table 18-1 on page 203 of the Analytical Perspectives document format_pdf).

Congress has largely rejected these proposed cuts, but has failed to complete the FY18 budget process. Funding is currently provided by a Continuing Resolution at FY17 levels until February 8, 2018. Rather than passing another Continuing Resolution, APS believes Congress should pass a complete FY18 budget that removes the “caps” on non-defense discretionary spending, while increasing funding for federal science agencies.

The “caps” are part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 which restricts discretionary spending (which the science agencies fall under) below a designated amount. If discretionary spending exceeds the amount, there would be automatic across-the-board cuts to bring the total amount down – a process also known as sequestration. The budget currently is a zero-sum game with science agencies competing with other agencies and programs. Raising the caps alleviates some of the pressure and would allow Congress to increase support for science.

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