Threat to American Science: Slashes to Science Spending

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February 23, 2011

Slashes to Science Spending

H.R. 1 was passed by the House of Representatives on a largely party line vote of 235 to 189 (235 Republicans voted for the bill, while 186 Democrats and 3 Republicans voted against).
Gray arrow How Your Representative Voted

Budget Cuts
The bill contains a number of significant cuts to DOE Office of Science, NIST, and NSF.  It is important to note that since there are only seven months left in the fiscal year, these cuts would apply over that seven month, and not a twelve month period.  Therefore, the cuts would actually be more severe than estimated.  The NSF budget would be cut by 9.9% over the 2010 enacted budget; DOE Office of Science would lose $946M, or 32.7%; and the NIST Core budget would lose $140M, or 36%.

Continuing Resolution
The Continuing Resolution now moves to the Senate for consideration.  At this time it is unclear what will happen in that chamber.  However, Democrat Leaders in the Senate have said they will not consider H.R. 1, and President Obama has said he will veto it if it comes to his desk.  When there is more information, APS will send out another Alert to the Society's membership with an update on the situation.  Should you have any questions, please contact the APS Washington Office.

Original Post

The Issue in Brief
Last Friday, House Republicans, who hold the majority, introduced a detailed plan to slash $100 billion from the non-defense portion of the FY 2011 discretionary budget. The plan, which amounts to a reduction of about 33 percent in federal spending during the balance of the fiscal year, would devastate significant portions of federal commitments to science. 

It is critical that you contact your member of Congress NOW in order to avoid severe disruptions of research grants, cessation of national user facilities operations; halting of major science construction projects; initiation of layoffs, furloughs and termination of laboratory personnel; and reductions in support for science education.

The Continuing Resolution under which the federal government has been operating since October 1, 2010 and which is set to expire on March 4 contains approximately $530 billion for civilian programs out of a total budget of $3.54 trillion.  With only 7 months of the fiscal year remaining, the $100 billion House reduction would be taken from unexpended balances totaling about $300 billion. 

The legislation, H.R. 1, prepared by the House Republican leadership at the behest of extreme fiscal conservatives, would have the effect of slashing the remaining balances of the NSF and NIH budgets by almost 10 percent and the DOE Office of Science and NIST by more than 30 percent.  Applied science programs would be hit even harder.  Program reductions are summarized by the Website of the House Appropriations Committee.
Gray arrow House Appropriations Committee Introduces Continuing Resolution Containing Largest Spending Cuts in History.

Action Required
Contact your member of Congress IMMEDIATELY to emphasize the devastating impact on American science, innovation and economic growth the House plan would cause.  To assist you in framing your message, we have provided a pre-written message to your Representative, which you should personalize or rewrite as you deem appropriate.  See Write Congress Pointers (below) for further instruction.

Write Congress Pointers

  1. Use Email
    Electronic submission is preferred over letters and phone calls.
  2. Make Minor Edits
    While individualizing your letter is not essential, we ask that you make minor edits to the subject line and the first line of the text of each email.
  3. Use Your Personal Computer
    If you are a government employee, please do not use government resources, such as a government computer, to send your communication.
  4. Sending Your Letter
    • Your browser will take you to a page where you will enter your name and address.
    • After entering your address, click Edit/Send Email.
    • A window with an individual email message to the four offices will appear. Click Send Emails to transmit your letter.

For further help, email the APS Office of Public Affairs.

Sample Letter

Dear Representative [name]:

I am writing to urge you not to support the drastic reductions in federal science programs contained in H.R. 1.  I understand the need for fiscal restraint, but spending cuts need to be smart and strategic.  We should not take counterproductive budgetary actions in areas like scientific research that are essential to American innovation and to our efforts to grow our economy, create jobs and build a better America.

The proposed cuts to the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology would result in thousands of layoffs and a cessation of activities at national scientific user facilities upon which American industry, small business and university research depend.  The bill, H.R. 1, is a job killer for scientists, engineers, technologists, and blue collar support personnel at national laboratories and universities across the country.   They are vital elements of the American workforce and our innovation enterprise.

The cuts would also have a severe impact on cutting-edge research in areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, high-speed computing, advanced materials and photonics, as well as high-energy physics, nuclear physics and fusion energy sciences.

At a time when we are seeking to spark economic growth and encourage talented young people to pursue careers in science and engineering, reducing federal support for science research and education is totally counterproductive.  Such cuts are irresponsible and will only hurt our long-term competitiveness, especially at a time when emerging economies such as China and India are ramping up their investments in scientific research and education. 

I urge you to oppose the proposed cuts for science contained in H.R. 1.