October 29, 2015

APS Lauds Portion of FY 2016 Budget Deal, Urges Congress to Make Science Higher Priority

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Physical Society is pleased that the budget deal struck by the White House and Congress will likely avert an impending fiscal cliff or a protracted continuing resolution, and that the agreement could return regular order to the appropriations process for fiscal year 2017. However, the Society remains concerned about the priority of research funding under the budget deal.

For much of the last decade, science budgets have been subjected to the uncertainty of repeated continuing resolutions that ordinarily preclude starting any new projects, regardless of their importance and prior vetting, and shutting down obsolete facilities and programs.

Although the new spending plan alleviates those concerns, it tips heavily toward military expenditures. For fiscal year 2016, the budget deal calls for a welcome 5 percent increase for non-defense spending; but for fiscal year 2017, it holds non-defense federal programing at a level that will likely fall below inflation. By contrast, the budget deal calls for healthy defense increases of more than 7.5 percent in fiscal 2016 and almost 5 percent in fiscal year 2017, both well above inflation.

Unless Congress and the White House carve out a special place for science in the non-defense budget, research funding will continue to fall further behind the research commitments our global competitors in Europe and Asia have been making. Moreover, in an era in which defense technologies are drawing heavily on the scientific discoveries originating from non-defense programs, shoring up our military capabilities requires robust funding of non-defense research.

If the U.S. is to maintain its strong defense capability and its scientific leadership in the face of increased global competition, Congress and the White House must do a better job. And that means making science a priority in the federal budget. APS urges congressional appropriators to do so as they decide on non-defense spending allocations in the coming months.

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The American Physical Society is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents over 55,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world. Society offices are located in College Park, Maryland (Headquarters), Ridge, New York, and Washington, D.C.