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ISSUE: RESEARCH FUNDING
Congress haggles over budget, science funding hangs in the balance. At press time, the Senate and House have so far failed to reach agreement on a budget resolution, which sets the overall framework for annual spending bills. In an atmosphere where science funding is already squeezed by war expenses and a growing deficit, the disagreement threatens to delay the budget process until after Election Day, throwing even more doubt on science agency budgets.
Senators express support for Office of Science. Although President Bush's February budget proposed a 2% cut for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, 55 senators have signed a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee recommending a 10% increase for the agency. It is unlikely that such an increase will become a reality this year, but the letter is a strong statement of support. Instrumental in building such broad support for the letter were more than 4,000 e-mails urging support for the Office of Science sent to the Senate by scientists using the APS "Write Congress" Web page.
The APS Panel on Public Affairs Report on the Modern Pit Facility is now available. The Senate Defense Authorization Bill decreasaed pit facility funding by 50%, pending reports on stockpile size and production options. That is consistent with the recommendations in the POPA Report. (To read the full report, please go to the APS Office of Public Affairs website.)
ISSUE: EDUCATION FUNDING
President Bush's proposal to move the peer-reviewed Math and Science Partnerships program at the National Science Foundation to the Department of Education has met with opposition on Capitol Hill, which has been fueled in part by over 1,100 APS March Meeting attendees who stopped by the "Contact Congress" kiosk to send e-mails opposing the transfer. APS continues to work to block this transfer.
Rep. Michael Capuano (D-8th MA) has submitted legislation to address one component of the visa problem. Citing reports from NSF and the Council on Graduate Schools indicating sharp declines in graduate applications from abroad, H.R. 4273, The FERMI Act (Furthering Education and Research through Mantis Improvements), would extend visa validity periods to three years and allow for multiple entries.
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