APS News

President Signs NSF Authorization Bill; White House Suppresses the Evidence

On December 19, President Bush signed the NSF Authorization Bill, and the White House made a big deal out of it. But then they seemed to change their mind.

The bill, passed by Congress in the "lame duck" session after the November elections, authorizes funding levels that would double the National Science Foundation budget by 2007, and contains other provisions that will have significant impact on operations at NSF. To dramatize the importance of this legislation, key members of Congress and the heads of several scientific societies, among them Bill Brinkman of APS, were invited to the White House to witness the signing.

At the ceremony, President Bush reportedly made a strong statement in support of science. Pictures were taken. Scientists and legislators alike left with a real feeling of accomplishment.

Here at APS News, we called our contact at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and were promised pictures of Presidents Bush with Brinkman as soon as they became available. A month went by, the deadline for our February issue came and went, and still we waited. As this is being written, the deadline for our March issue looms and there is no sign that the pictures will ever be released.

Apparently all such pictures have to be cleared, exactly by whom we don't know, and exactly why we don't know. It is unlikely that there could be any security implications to them. Maybe they need to be inspected to be sure that the President (Bush, that is) is not caught with an unbecoming expression on his face.

A second possibility occurs to us: President Brinkman is a tall man, significantly bigger than President Bush. The picture of them together might make Bush look small. If that's the problem, we are hoping for another opportunity in 2003; our new President, Myriam Sarachik, has many admirable qualities, including the foresight to stand barely more than five feet tall.

Will President Sarachik get to meet President Bush? And will the White House have the courage to release a picture of them together? We'll keep you posted.


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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette