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Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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More From the 'Minibus': USDA, NIST Research Programs Survive Rough Ride in New Spending Bill
18 November 2011 1:08 pm
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives yesterday approved a package of spending bills that include money for a range of science programs and President Barack Obama is likely to sign it into law today. The bill includes some good news for research efforts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and mixed results for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Science Insider has been reporting on pieces of the so-called "minibus"—an appropriations bill that consolidates $182 billion in spending by five departments (Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development) and a number of independent agencies, including the National Science Foundation. The minibus moniker is a play on the "omnibus" tag used when Congress consolidates all 12 annual appropriations bills into a single package.
Yesterday, the House approved the minibus bill (H.R. 2112) on a vote of 298-121, and Senate followed suit hours later by a vote of 70-30.
Although researchers were bracing for cuts, both NIST and USDA's major competitive research initiative emerged relatively unscathed.
- NIST: The bill grants NIST part of its wish for more money for core research programs, but the boost came with some strings attached. Lawmakers want nearly one-half of the $60 million increase, to $567 million, spent on two cybersecurity programs: a$10 million Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, championed by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and $16.5 million to implement National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, released by the White House in early 2011.
- USDA: After some ups and downs, USDA's premier competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), came out unscathed, funded at $264.5 million, the same as in 2011. Lawmakers rejected the Administration's request to boost AFRI's funding to $325 million, but also rejected a House plan for a 13.4% cut. "We're pleased, given this budget climate," said Karl Glasener of the Crop Science Society of America, part of a coalition that had pushed for increasing AFRI's budget to $350 million.
Overall, however, USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) will continue to shrink, taking a 3.4% cut from 2011 levels to about $1.1 billion. Lawmakers rejected the Administration's effort to strip Congressionally-directed projects from ARS's budget, but did give it the green light to close 12 of USDA's 100+ research centers, some of which began life as Congressional earmarks. Labs on the hit list include an air quality research center in Ames, Iowa, an acoustics laboratory in Oxford, Mississippi, and a tiny Utah center that studies "locoweeds," plants that are toxic to livestock. But lawmakers also said USDA isn't allowed to close any more labs in 2012, although the Obama Administration is reportedly readying another closure list.
Congress also extended current spending levels for other important science agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy, for at least another month as part of a "continuing resolution."