From the Hill
Bush 2008 budget: More bad news for R&D
On February 5, President Bush released his budget for fiscal year (FY) 2008, just as the new Democratic majority in Congress was racing to complete work on the FY 2007 budget. Although the president’s proposal contains more bleak news for most R&D agencies, the final FY 2007 budget contains a few pleasant surprises.
The president’s budget includes themes from previous budgets, with large proposed increases for the three physical sciences agencies in the president’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), increases for weapons and human spacecraft development, and declining funding for the rest of the federal R&D portfolio.
Within an overall budget that once again proposes to restrain domestic spending but dramatically increase defense spending, many agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), would see their R&D funding fall. The overall federal investment in R&D would increase 1.4% to $143 billion, but development funding would take up the entire increase and more. The federal investment in basic and applied research would fall 2% as gains in funding for the ACI agencies would be more than offset by cuts in R&D funding for other agencies.
In broad terms, the president’s budget once again provides big increases in defense and homeland security, trims some entitlement programs, extends expiring tax cuts, and promises to reduce the budget deficit primarily by cutting domestic discretionary spending. For R&D, the budget offers a sustained commitment to increasing funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratories in the Department of Commerce. These three research-oriented ACI agencies lead the pack in R&D gains, followed closely by proposed gains for development programs in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense (DOD). But within a declining domestic budget, there would be stark contrasts between these priority programs and everything else: Nearly all other nondefense R&D programs would face cuts, and defense research would also fall steeply.
The FY 2007 budget, which was approved by Congress on February 14 and signed by the president the next day, includes the following good news: increases for the three key physical sciences agencies (NSF, DOE, and NIST), an inflation-indexed increase instead of proposed flat funding for NIH, and a dramatic rise in energy R&D funding. In addition, several R&D programs that had been operating at reduced funding levels would see their budgets boosted back to last year’s levels. In addition, the spending bill is unusual in that it contains no congressionally designated earmarks, which in some cases results in large increases for core R&D programs within flat or declining overall budgets.
The completed 2007 budget brings the total federal R&D investment to $139.9 billion, an increase of 3.4%. However, the entire increase would go to development programs in DOD for weapons systems and NASA for a new human spacecraft. The federal investment in basic and applied research would barely stay even with last year at $56.8 billion (up 0.2%), narrowly avoiding the first cut in federal research in at least 30 years, with increases for research funded by the three ACI agencies and NIH offset by steep cuts in NASA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and other agencies’ research portfolios. In inflation-adjusted terms, the federal research portfolio would decline for the third year.
R&D in the FY 2008 Budget by Agency
(budget authority in millions of dollars)
|FY 2006||FY 2007||FY 2008||Change FY 07-08|
|Total R&D (Conduct and Facilities)|
|Defense (military) **||74,289||78,231||78,996||765||1.0%|
|S&T (6.1-6.3 + medical) **||13,838||13,677||10,930||-2,747||-20.1%|
|All Other DOD R&D **||60,451||64,554||68,066||3,512||5.4%|
|Health and Human Services||28,990||29,650||29,364||-286||-1.0%|
|Nat’l Institutes of Health||27,760||28,405||28,080||-325||-1.1%|
|All Other HHS R&D||1,230||1,245||1,284||39||3.1%|
|Atomic Energy Defense R&D||4,072||3,789||3,845||56||1.5%|
|Office of Science||3,326||3,515||4,072||557||15.8%|
|Nat’l Science Foundation||4,183||4,482||4,856||374||8.3%|
|Environ. Protection Agency||622||567||547||-20||-3.5%|
|Nondefense R&D excluding NASA||46,204||46,979||47,356||376||0.8%|
|R&D Facilities and Equipment||4,350||4,104||4,765||662||16.1%|
Source: AAAS, based on OMB data for R&D for FY 2008, agency budget justifications, and information from agency budget offices.
Note: The projected inflation rate between FY 2007 and FY 2008 is 2.4 percent.
* FY 2007 figures reflect AAAS estimates of pending FY 2007 appropriations (H.J. Res. 20).
** FY 2007 and 2008 figures include requested supplementals.
Preliminary February 7, 2007 – will be revised
New Democratic leaders call for tough climate-change legislation
The new Democratic leaders in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (DCA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), have pledged to pursue tough legislation to deal with climate change. Already, four bills have been introduced in the Senate that would impose mandatory greenhouse gas emission limits.
Pelosi also announced the creation of a Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, to be chaired by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). Although it will not have legislative authority and will expire at the end of the current Congress, the committee will likely put pressure on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, whose chairman, John Dingell (D-MI), was not pleased with the news, stating, “These kinds of committees are as useful and relevant as feathers on a fish.” Dingell, who has previously opposed mandatory action to address climate change, had already announced climate change as a priority for the committee and his intention to invite former Vice President Al Gore and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to testify at a hearing that would feature “broadly divergent views as to what should be done on climate change.”
Leaders of the House Science and Technology Committee and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have also listed climate change among their priority topics.
In the Senate, where five bills or possible bills have already been introduced and more are being discussed, the Environment and Public Works Committee will have lead jurisdiction. Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has restructured the committee to include two new subcommittees on global warming. Boxer will chair the Public Sector Solutions to Global Warming, Oversight, Children’s Health Protection and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee on which Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will be the Ranking Member. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) will chair the Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection Subcommittee, with Senator John Warner (R-VA) serving as Ranking Member.
Although Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) recently ceded jurisdiction on climate change, he is drafting a climate change bill and his committee held a standing-room-only hearing on the topic on January 24.
The Foreign Relations Committee has also weighed in, with Chairman Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) reintroducing a “Sense of the Senate” resolution that calls for the United States to return to international climate negotiations and stipulates that all major emitters of greenhouse gases, including developing countries such as China and India, participate as well. A similar resolution passed the committee last year but stalled on the floor.
The five Senate proposals call for varying levels of emissions reductions and would all use a cap-and-trade system as the mechanism for limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
On January 12, Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Lieberman (I-CT), introduced S. 280, the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007, with Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hilary Clinton (D-NY) joining as cosponsors. Their plan would cap emissions at 2004 levels in 2012 and decrease those limits to 1990 levels by 2020. It would eventually cut U.S. emissions to one-third the amount they were in 2000 by 2050. These limits are different from previous bills introduced by McCain and Lieberman, reflecting both the growth in emissions in recent years and the growing sentiment in favor of first slowing the growth of emissions before seeking steep reductions. The bill also contains additional credits for “offsets,” actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions taken by those outside the cap-and-trade system, as well as incentives for the use of nuclear energy. The bill would invest money raised by the auction of allowances to deploy advanced technologies and practices for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to ameliorate the negative effects of any unavoidable global warming on low-income Americans and populations abroad.
A similar bill has been introduced in the House by Reps. John Olver (DMA) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD). Although considered a companion bill, the legislation is somewhat more aggressive on emissions cuts and somewhat less supportive of new technology.
Bingaman’s draft bill, which has picked up the support of Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), focuses on reducing energy intensity, a ratio of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of economic output, usually measured in gross domestic product (GDP). The bill would cap intensity at 2013 levels by 2020 and then reduce it 2.6% annually between 2012 and 2021 and 3% a year after that. Like the McCain-Lieberman bill, the Bingaman bill would provide credits for offsets. Bingaman has included a “safety valve” that initially limits to $7 per ton the amount that industry would have to pay for exceeding emission limits, with that figure rising annually by 5% above the projected inflation rate. Many business leaders, including some of those in the newly formed environmentalist/industry United States Climate Action Partner-ship, favor the inclusion of a safety valve. Proceeds from the auction of permits would be used for low-carbon energy research, development, and deployment.
On January 11, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released an analysis of a similar proposal by Bingaman, finding that it would cost 0.1% of GDP through 2030. Bingaman has hailed this finding as proof that a climate change program can work without causing damage to the economy. According to EIA, Bingaman’s plan would, compared to business as usual, lower emissions by 5% (372 million tons) in 2015, 11% (909 million tons) in 2025, and 14% (1,259 million tons) by 2030; however, the actual level of emissions would still be higher than today.
Boxer and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007 (S. 309), which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Additional reductions are allowed if certain temperature or greenhouse gas concentration thresholds are crossed. The bill also contains energy efficiency and renewable energy portfolio standards. The bill, which contains the largest cuts in emissions of all the bills introduced, has the backing of the environmental community, based on the exclusion of nuclear energy provisions and its large-scale emissions reductions, but no Republican cosponsors as of yet.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE) introduced The Electric Utility Cap-and-Trade Act (S. 317), which focuses on reducing emissions in the electricity sector. The measure would cap greenhouse gas emissions at 2006 levels by 2011 and at 2001 levels in 2015, with continued reductions so that emissions are 25% below projected levels in 2020. The bill has been endorsed by six large utilities, none of which rely predominantly on coal. The bill would use money from auctioning credits for low-carbon technology and helping low-income communities and ecosystems adapt to climate change.
On February 2, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and John Kerry (DMA) introduced S. 485, The Global Warming Reduction Act of 2007, which would amend the Clean Air Act to address climate change. It would freeze U.S. emissions in 2010 and use an economy-wide cap-and-trade system to reduce them so that they are 65% below 2000 emissions levels by 2050. The bill includes measures to advance technology and reduce emissions through clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency in the transportation, industrial, and residential sectors and requires the United States to derive 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It calls for National Research Council studies every two years on the probability of avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system and the progress made by the United States as of the date of the report to avoid that interference. It also would establish a National Climate Change Vulnerability and Resilience Program to evaluate and make recommendations about local, regional, and national vulnerability and resilience to impacts relating to longer-term climatic changes and shorter-term climatic variations, including changes and variations resulting from human activities.
House passes stem cell bill as part of first 100 hours agenda
On January 11, the House passed H.R. 3, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would expand researcher access to embryonic stem cell lines. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Mike Castle (R-DE), was identical to last year’s H.R. 810, the first bill that President Bush vetoed during his presidency. The current bill has continued to garner bipartisan support. The 253-174 tally had 15 more yes votes than last year’s bill. With another Bush veto imminent, however, the House is still 37 votes shy of the two-thirds majority necessary to override.
H.R. 3 was part of the Democrats’ “100 Hours Agenda,” which also included implementing various 9/11 Commission recommendations, increasing the minimum wage, and mandating that the federal government negotiate with companies for lower-cost prescription drugs. Even with the prospect of another presidential veto, the Democrats included the stem cell bill on its agenda to emphasize the growing public support for stem cell research. Recent polls by the Civil Society Institute among others indicate that the majority of Americans support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.
Other bills to watch on the health front include the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (H.R. 493), which would bar employers and health insurers from discriminating against people on the basis of genetic information. Previously, the bill passed the Senate but stalled in the House. The bill has been introduced in the House with a bipartisan group of 143 cosponsors and is expected to pass easily. Bush has already pledged to sign the bill.
Democrats to press competitiveness legislation
Democrats have signaled that they will push for new legislation to bolster U.S. economic competitiveness and innovation, with improvements to education at the heart of their approach. During the Democratic leaders’ January 19 State of the Union address, Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed in particular the importance of science education, stating that “innovation and economic growth begins in America’s classrooms. To create a new generation of innovators, we must fund No Child Left Behind so that we can encourage science and math education, taught by the most qualified and effective teachers.”
Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), chair of the renamed House Committee on Science and Technology, listed innovation at the top of his list of priorities and renamed one of the subcommittees Technology and Innovation as a reflection of its importance. Gordon introduced the 10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds Science and Math Scholarship Act (H.R. 362) and Sowing the Seeds through Science and Engineering Research Act (H.R. 363), versions of which passed the Science Committee last year but did not make it to the House floor.
The Sowing the Seeds bill would authorize a 10% funding increase for basic research in the physical sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Defense. It would also authorize a NSF and DOE grant program for earlycareer researchers and establish a national coordination office under the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to prioritize university and national research infrastructure needs.
The 10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds bill reflects Gordon’s belief that building on existing programs is more effective than creating new programs. The bill would expand NSF’s Robert Democrats to press competitiveness legislation Noyce Scholarship program, which provides scholarships to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors who commit to teaching science or math at elementary and secondary schools. It also authorizes summer teacher training institutes at NSF and DOE; prioritizes teacher training within NSF’s Math and Science Partnership program; and amends NSF’s STEM Talent Expansion program to improve undergraduate STEM education.
Rep.Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) has also introduced a package of four bills (H.R. 35, 36, 37, and 38) to address science and math education. The bills would amend No Child Left Behind to require that states’ accountability metrics, which currently focus on reading and math, also include the results of the science assessments. The bills would also create tax credits for science and math teachers as well as for businesses that donate new equipment or teacher training to schools and enhance science and math readiness for children in the Head Start program.
Fisheries, bioterrorism bills approved
Just before adjournment in December, the 109th Congress approved a variety of legislation, which has been signed by President Bush, including bills that strengthen fisheries protection and create a new bioterrorism agency.
In reauthorizing the Magnuson- Stevens fisheries law, Congress strengthened the role of science in fisheries management by requiring that catch limits be based on the recommendations of the science and statistical committees of the regional fishery management councils. The bill does not specify penalties for fisheries that exceed their catch; instead, it directs the regional councils to establish accountability measures. It mandates an end to overfishing in fisheries with depleted stocks within two and a half years.
The bill also establishes a mechanism that allows the selling and trading of shares in a fishery through “limited access privilege programs.” This type of market-based cap-and-trade program has been used successfully in other environmental arenas as a costeffective way to implement limits.
Although environmental groups were concerned about the bill’s weak accountability measures, most agreed that the bill as a whole will strengthen Fisheries, bioterrorism bills approved fisheries protection.
Congress also approved the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which creates a $1 billion agency for bioterrorism research called the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The legislation is aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of two-year-old Project Bioshield, which was designed to encourage drug companies to create new medicines for infectious diseases. BARDA will be housed in the Department of Health and Human Services and will manage the administration’s efforts to combat bioterrorism threats.
“From the Hill” is prepared by the Center for Science, Technology, and Congress at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (www.aaas.org/spp) in Washington, D.C., and is based on articles from the center’s bulletin Science & Technology in Congress.