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By Tawanda W. Johnson
APS is relieved that the Fiscal Year (FY) 11 Continuing Resolution averts disastrous job loss proposed under H.R. 1, but the Society remains deeply concerned about the negative impact that the FY 2012 budget would have on scientists’ ability to conduct critical research that benefits Americans.
The budget deal, reached at the 11th hour before a government shutdown, calls for about a 1 percent increase in the research budgets of the Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
“President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid deserve credit for persevering in fighting off the draconian FY 2011 science budget cuts in H.R. 1,” said Michael Lubell, the APS director of public affairs. But he added, “The FY 2012 battle has just begun, and the White House must engage in the fight much earlier than it did with H.R. 1 if it truly wants Congress to fund science adequately.”
Although thousands of technical workers, construction workers and scientists won’t lose their jobs in the current fiscal year, their livelihoods will be in jeopardy under the proposed U.S. House FY 2012 Budget Resolution. The spending plan would reduce the aggregate science budgets of the Office of Science, NSF, NIST and NASA by $2 billion, causing major damage to the America’s innovation enterprise and our nation’s ability sustain its global scientific leadership.
APS recognizes that the U.S. must live within its means and cut the deficit, but the Society also believes that as nation we must be smart about how we do the cutting. We must not torch the science seed corn that has fed the American economy for the last half-century. The iPhone, GPS and MRI are just a few of the technologies spawned by government-funded research, which private industry developed into marketable devices, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and saving countless numbers of lives in the process.
Should FY 2012 appropriations follow the course laid out by the House Budget Resolution, the Department of Energy could be forced to curtail operation of its national user facilities, severely hurting the work of more than 26,000 scientists and engineers throughout the country who rely on the facilities to perform their research. The labs provide scientists with extremely expensive specialized instruments allowing them to conduct cutting-edge research in many fields, among them energy technologies and new drugs to treat and cure diseases. Companies such as Eli Lilly, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Intel and IBM are representative of the more than 100 companies that use the national labs.
To build a better America by creating jobs, curing diseases and improving our energy and national security we must make science research and education priorities in the federal budget.
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