New York Times Examines Effect of FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill on National Science Foundation
Funding for the National Science Foundation under the 2005 omnibus spending bill is $272 million less than requested by President Bush and $105 million less than last fiscal year, the New York Times reports. The foundation for FY 2005 will receive $5.473 billion, after Congress in 2002 endorsed a plan to double the foundation's budget by 2007.
According to some Republicans who helped author the appropriations measure, the NSF funding cut was a "necessary part of an overall effort to hold down domestic spending," the Times reports. David Stonner, NSF director of congressional affairs, said Congress informed him that the funding reduction could set the stage for "a series of flat or slightly declining budgets for the next several years," adding that it could hamper scientific innovation by discouraging graduate students from pursuing new ideas.
Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) called the funding reduction "extremely short-sighted" and a "dangerous disregard for our nation's future." He added, "I am astonished that we would make this decision at a time when other nations continue to surpass our students in math and science and consistently increase their funding of basic research."
Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) said that biomedical research was "heavily dependent on basic initial research done by agencies like the National Science Foundation." Former NIH Director Harold Varmus said, "We have the ability to understand the genome of the cancer cell in our hands. But we need computational improvements, faster and better machinery and software to compare the genome of cancer cells with the genome of normal cells" (Pear, New York Times, 11/30).