Science Accounts Hit Hard by Planned House Budget Cuts

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

Today, House of Representatives Republicans unveiled a long-awaited plan to reduce federal spending this year that includes double-digit cuts in the panels that fund most of civilian basic research. It is $74 billion lower than President Barack Obama's 2011 request, submitted 1 year ago and never enacted, and is divided between $56 billion in civilian spending and $18 billion for security expenditures, including $9 billion from the military.

The spending plan comes in the form of an allocation to each of the 12 appropriations subcommittees that dole out the $3.4 trillion federal budget. The panel that controls the budgets of the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Commerce would get 16% less money than in 2010 and 11% less than President Obama has requested for the current, 2011 fiscal year. The panel that oversees the Department of Energy would receive 10% less than in 2010 and 15% less than the president's request. The panel that oversees the National Institutes of Health and the Education Department would receive 8% less than the president's request and 4% less than in 2010. However, the plan does not specify spending levels for individual agencies, which are currently being funded at 2010 levels in a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on 4 March.

These so-called 302b allocations, announced by the House Appropriations Committee, are expected to be voted on by the full House the week of 14 February. The goal is final passage by Congress before the CR expires. Not coincidentally, Obama submits his 2012 budget request to Congress on 14 February.

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