The American Physical Society, representing more than 46,000 physicists in universities, industry and national laboratories, regards the Fiscal Year 2008 omnibus spending bill as extraordinarily damaging to the nation’s science and technology enterprise. The bill fails to fund appropriately the research and education programs authorized in the bipartisan America COMPETES Act, which President Bush signed into law only four months ago. The consequential layoffs of scientists and engineers throughout the nation will discourage American youth from pursuing these fields, just as the country needs their participation to sustain economic growth and national security.
While other nations are aggressively challenging American leadership in physical sciences and technology, the omnibus bill sets our country on the wrong course. It fails to provide the necessary resources for long-term research in the physical sciences and engineering. It fails to provide the requisite resources for developing new cutting-edge scientific laboratories and even for operating existing national user facilities. It fails to provide adequate funding for university-based research that is so essential for educating the next generation of scientists and engineers. It also fails to provide the appropriate incentives for American industry to innovate at an accelerated pace.
Furthermore, as we as a nation strive to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, mitigate global warming and put a lid on escalating energy costs, the omnibus bill abandons the long-term transformational research that is necessary to achieve all these essential goals. The bill is bad for our energy future and economic future.
Finally, apart from its failings on global competitiveness and energy, the omnibus legislation also places at grave risk U.S. participation in two large international scientific collaborations. Just one year ago, the United States made a major commitment to the construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Today, Congress has pulled the plug. In so doing, it critically damages American credibility as a reliable scientific partner throughout the world and compromises the nation’s standing as a host of future international scientific facilities. Congress has also cut the lifeline of the International Linear Collider, which represents the future of American high-energy physics. This action sends a strong message to the world: The U.S. is prepared to turn its back on one of our flagship areas of science that probes fundamental laws of the universe.
The APS notes with some dismay that had Congress applied the same discipline to earmarking as it did last year, the damage to the science and technology enterprise could have been avoided.
For these reasons, the American Physical Society urgently calls on Congress and the White House to provide emergency funding for Fiscal Year 2008.