In celebration of COSSA’s 40th anniversary, we are diving into the decades of Washington Update archives to share articles from years past that resonate with today’s news.
With the five year doubling of the National Institutes of Health’s budget about to come to a successful end, the focus has shifted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its budget needs. For the past two years, Senators Christopher Bond (R-MO) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) have enunciated their support for doubling NSF’s budget over five years. Unfortunately, financial constraints and competing spending priorities have kept them from delivering on this promise from their perches as Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate VA, HUD, Appropriations Subcommittee (both have held each position in the past two years due to the shift in Senate control caused by the defection of Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) from the Republican party).
On May 7, the House Science Committee led by its Chairman Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) jumped into the fray with a bill to reauthorize the NSF for three years that would provide a 15 percent increase each year, thus placing the Foundation on a doubling track. The legislation, H.R. 4664, received bipartisan endorsement from Rep. Ralph Hall (D- TX), Ranking Democrat on the Science panel, as well as Research Subcommittee Chair Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI) and Ranking Democrat Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). Johnson had introduced her own doubling reauthorization bill last year.
At a press conference, where Reps. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Connie Morella (R-MD), and Lamar Smith (R-TX) also endorsed H.R. 4664, Boehlert proclaimed: “This bill will help NSF get the real money it needs to succeed in all its tasks.” He further justified the increased spending by asserting that “NSF has the broadest research mission of any Federal science agency and the clearest educational mission. It needs the funding that goes with that expansive – and expensive – mandate.” Many representatives of the science and engineering community, most of whom, including COSSA, issued press statements supporting the budget doubling, attended the press conference.