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Today, the Administration submitted its budget request for Fiscal Year 2008 to Congress. The almost $3 trillion request includes $142.6 billion for research and development.
"While the President's budget includes some important funding increases, it lacks the priorities and consistency to ensure our competitiveness now and in the long run," said House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).
"As the father of a five year old daughter, I am deeply concerned that our children will be the first generation of Americans not to inherit a better quality of life than their parents. We need to get serious about making sure our kids grow up in a country whose economic strength is sound and continues to be the envy of the world."
The Administration's FY08 budget request includes $6.429 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF). However, the President again proposes to create new requirements under the Department of Education and No Child Left Behind - which have been perennially overburdened and underfunded - while ignoring the demonstrated success of K-12 education programs at NSF. Those programs are cut $15 million from the FY07 Continuing Resolution level and flat relative to the President's FY07 request.
"Rather than continuing to add to the bureaucracy at the Department of Education, the President would be better served to utilize the longstanding expertise and success of the National Science Foundation in improving math and science skills for teachers and students," added Chairman Gordon.
Gordon has led the House in authoring an innovation package of legislation built upon the recommendations of the widely acknowledged Rising Above the Gathering Storm report issued by the National Academy of Sciences. The legislation ("10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds" Science and Math Scholarship Act (H.R. 362) and Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Research Act (H.R. 363) underscores the importance of NSF's work in maintaining preeminence in math and science education and research.
These bills will serve as the vehicle for broader discussion of issues by the Science and Technology Committee, as well as a cornerstone of the Democrats' Competitiveness and Innovation Agenda.
The President also proposes $640.7 million for the physical science portions of the National Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST). However, since taking office the President has proposed eliminating two programs that have a proven track record of aiding small businesses and creating new jobs - the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Advanced Technology Program. Overall, the President's budget proposes cutting NIST's budget by 4%.
"Rather than a balanced approach to an Innovation Agenda, the President once again is using a 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' approach," added Gordon. "This is hardly the way to develop a robust innovation portfolio to maintain our economic competitiveness in the 21st Century."
For NASA the President's budget proposes $17.3 billion. However, the proposal does nothing to correct the growing imbalance between NASA's programs and the resources the Administration is willing to commit to carry them out.
"Once again, NASA's budget request is not sufficient to do all the agency is being asked to do. Exploration and human space flight are important long-term missions for the agency and our country. So are NASA's core activities in science and aeronautics. Yet this budget request and its five-year funding plan do not provide the funding needed to ensure the future health of any of these initiatives. I fear we may be heading for a train wreck if no corrective actions are taken," added Gordon.
Although the President's budget proposes necessary increases for the Department of Energy Office of Science, it includes a number of glaring omissions in energy R&D and does not go far enough to promote the commercialization of energy technologies.
To meet this research need, Gordon has introduced the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) Act (H.R. 364). An ARPA-E will provide aggressive funding for innovative, out-of-the-box research projects carried out by industry, universities and consortia of groups, including federal laboratories. This program will give the best and brightest science and technology experts unprecedented flexibility and resources to develop new technologies through high-risk, high-return research addressing the nation's most pressing energy problems.
Chairman Gordon added, "Basic science and technology research lays the foundation for reducing our country's energy dependence and addressing the impacts of global climate change, but today too much energy R&D never gets beyond the lab. Adequate funding for all energy R&D priorities combined with the establishment of ARPA-E will accelerate innovation and help spur the commercialization of potentially transformational technologies.
"The President's budget includes a few good targets for R&D funding, but ignores too many of our country's priorities. Today's young people planning for careers, as well as researchers at our labs and universities deserve a better budget, one that shows a strong federal commitment to the priorities that will ensure our nation's competitive position in the world in science and technology."
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