APS News

Washington Dispatch

A bimonthly update from the APS Office of Public Affairs


Congress has begun drafting its appropriations bills and the news is generally good for science funding given the current fiscal environment and the presidential request. The exception is the National Science Foundation (NSF), for which the Senate Appropriations Committee approved only a 1.1% increase over the FY05 budget of $5.47B but $74M less than the President’s request of $5.61B. The House approved a 3.1% increase for NSF, $38M more than the request. The Department of Energy Office of Science has fared much better in Congress than in the President’s budget, which requested a cut of 3.9% from FY05 budget of $3.6B. The Senate bill would increase the budget by 2.8%, while the House bill would increase the budget by 1.8%. The NIST Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) account would see an increase from the FY05 level of $378M to $398M (5.3%) in the House bill and to $400M (5.8%) in the Senate bill. For the Department of Defense basic and applied research accounts, the House reversed the deep cuts in the presidential request and approved a 2.2% increase over the FY05 level of $6.36B. The Senate has yet to mark up its Defense spending bill.

After both the House and Senate have approved an appropriations bill, the two versions are sent to a “Conference” committee composed of members from both chambers. The reconciled bill is then sent back to both chambers for approval before going to the President for his consideration. The progress of all spending bills is tracked at the AAAS website: http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/approp06.htm.


As previously reported, the APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) issued a Discussion Paper on nuclear power and proliferation resistance titled, "Securing Benefits, Limiting Risk." The chair of the study, Dr. Roger Hagengruber of the University of New Mexico, testified before the House Science Subcommittee on Energy on June 16th at a hearing on nuclear waste reprocessing. Hagengruber noted that the POPA report, although not ruling out the eventual need for reprocessing, concludes that no immediate decision is necessary and that a rush to implement it could “threaten future growth of the use of nuclear energy.” Referencing the West Valley debacle (the only US attempt at commercial reprocessing that took place in the 1960’s), Hagengruber said that “we must be cautious and not rush into reprocessing again until the safety, proliferation and cost issues are well understood and addressed properly.” The POPA position is at odds with the House Energy and Water Subcommittee report, which calls for reprocessing by 2007. To view the testimony, please go to House Science Committee website (http://www.house.gov/science/welcome.htm) and go to the Webcast link. To view the study report, please go to http://www.aps.org/policy/reports/popa-reports/proliferation-resistance/.


Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA 10th), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies, has called on President Bush to triple the innovation (basic research) budget for the physical sciences, math and engineering in order to address high-tech competition from abroad. He has also directed the Department of Commerce to hold an Innovation Summit in Washington this fall, which will be organized with help from the House Science Committee. At Wolf’s suggestion, a group of high-level industrial CEOs and former CEOs has petitioned the White House for a meeting with President Bush to discuss the need for a national innovation initiative.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff