Science Pared in Latest Senate Stimulus Package

Jeff tries to explain how government works to readers of Science.

Biomedical research trumped other science as U.S. senators labored over the weekend on a $820 billion stimulus package awaiting a vote tomorrow. The bipartisan compromise, proposed by moderate Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME), chips away at funding levels for several research agencies that were contained in the original spending measure. In particular, it slices $200 million from the research account at the National Science Foundation; $200 million from science at NASA; $200 million from operations, research, and facilities at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; $100 million for supercomputers at Department of Energy national labs; and $100 million from the intramural research programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. However, it retains a $6.5 billion bump for research at the National Institutes of Health that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) offered as an amendment to the original package. After the Senate votes it will face a tough negotiation with the House of Representatives to work out a final bill, with President Barack Obama’s goal of finishing by 16 February looking tougher every day.

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