When it was released last month, the President's FY 2004 budget for civilian R&D was so tightfisted that it drew strong criticism from the senior Republican leadership of the Science Committee. But the Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res. 95), passed last week with the votes of this same leadership, is even less generous for R&D than the President's budget. The House budget includes, at a minimum, a 2.9 percent across-the-board cut to the President's tight request. In many areas, the Budget Resolution cuts even deeper; hardest hit are science programs at the Department of Energy, which would be cut by $1 billion, or one-third from FY03 levels. Environmental research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Interior would be cut by approximately ten percent over the next year.
Further, the widely debated disparity in growth between the biological sciences and the physical sciences would be accentuated by the Resolution. While funding for the National Institutes of Health would increase by the President's request (+ $700 million), funding for physical sciences in all other Federal agencies would be cut by far more than $700 million.
Rep. Nick Lampson, Ranking Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on Energy, commented: "I am extremely disappointed that the House Leadership's FY 2004 budget resolution cuts the Department of Energy's Office of Science budget by one third. There is no question that now is the time we should be investing more, not less, money for energy research and development to reduce our dependence on imported energy."
Rep. Mark Udall, Ranking Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on Environment, Standards, and Technology, noted: "The President's FY2004 request for critical environmental research programs is already tight. The Republican budget resolution is worse. Among many other things, it would make extreme cuts in R&D funding for NOAA, EPA, and the Department of Interior. With asthma among our children at historically unprecedented levels and tied to environmental degradation, it is irresponsible to neglect these programs. With communities in vital need of information on drought and weather events, cutting funding for these programs is short-sighted. It seems to me that there is a disparity between what Republicans say they value and where they put the money."
The fiscal year 2004 House budget resolution is easily the most threatening bill for non-defense R&D since the 1995 resolution. In 1995, the House of Representatives, under newly elected Speaker Newt Gingrich, passed a budget resolution that projected a one-third reduction in civilian research and development spending over five years. In the end, R&D did suffer significant short-term cuts, but the most draconian effects of the 1995 legislation were mitigated both by President's Clinton's strong support for R&D and by the determined efforts of a small number of Republican leaders on the House and Senate Appropriations Committee. Given the changed lineup in the White House and on the Appropriations Committees, the results for R&D could be far worse this time around than in 1995.
"Highlights" of R&D Funding in H. Con. Res. 95,
the FY 2004 Concurrent Resolution on the Budget
Report 108-37 of the House of Representatives provides descriptions of the effect of H. Con. Res. 95 on specific Federal programs. The coverage of these programs is spotty in the report, but the following information can be gleaned or inferred about specific R&D programs by simple addition or subtraction:
This function contains funding for NSF, the space activities of NASA, DOE general sciences, and the S&T components of the Department of Homeland Security. The Resolution cuts FY 2004 budget authority for this function by $382 million from FY 2003 levels. The report explains that the Committee's intent is to provide in FY 2004 an additional $200 million for NSF and an additional $469 million for NASA. The only way the math works is if DOE's general science budget is slashed 32 percent ($1.051 billion) in FY 2004.
This function contains funding for "natural resources and environment," including the Corps of Engineers, Agriculture programs, NOAA, EPA, and the Department of Interior. Funding for this function is cut by over five percent from FY 2003 levels. However, the report describes enhanced funding for the National Park Service, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Superfund, and the Forest Service, leaving the research programs of EPA and NOAA with a 10 percent shortfall from FY 2003 levels.
NIST is not mentioned in the report. One may presume that the Budget Committee agrees with the Administration's intent to eliminate the Manufacturing Extension Service and the Advanced Technology Program.
Total discretionary funding for this function would be cut two percent from FY 2003 levels. The function includes NASA's aeronautics programs and the R&D programs of the Department of Transportation, including the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Resolution endorses the President's increase in the NIH budget from $27.2 billion to $27.9 billion.