Politicians have been bickering over the bill since it was fist unveiled on 15 January. American legislation takes a circuitous course on its way to the President. Typically, the House of Representatives and the Senate approve different versions of a bill, and then appoint negotiators to agree on compromise legislation that both houses must approve again before sending to the President.
Cherry Murray, American Physical Society
The $838bn Senate bill on 10 February included significantly less funding for physical science than the $825bn House bill on 29 January. Even though the Senate bill may have higher priority, most of the cuts to the physical sciences were reversed in the final $787bn bill agreed on 14 February. Indeed, physicists have welcomed the $21.5bn for science, with more than $10 bn of it going to government agencies responsible for funding the physical sciences.
NSF is a winner
The National Science Foundation (NSF) will receive $3.0 bn in stimulus funding on top of its $6.0bn budget for 2009. This will include $1bn for research infrastructure and construction and $2 bn for “other research and related activities.”
The DOE’s Office of Science, meanwhile, will get $1.6 bn in funding beyond its 2009 budget of $4.0 bn. Two other DOE programmes: energy efficiency and renewables, and fossil energy will receive $2.5 bn and $1.0 bn respectively, which is almost twice as much as their 2009 budget allocations of $1.2 bn and $576 m.
With a budget of $737 m for this year, the National Institute of Standards and Technology will receive an extra $580 m, of which $360 m will go on building research facilities. NASA will receive an extra $1.1 bn beyond its current budget of $17.2 bn with $400 m going towards its science and exploration programme.
Kei Koizumi, American Association for the Advancement of Science
“The surprise is how much money there is for science in the final bill,” says Kei Koizumi, budget analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “The good news is that there is a lot of money for infrastructure. The big challenge is how to spend it.”
“These critical investments will not only benefit American science and innovation, but they will put thousands of Americans back to work through construction and manufacturing projects,” American Physical Society president Cherry Murray said in a statement. “Furthermore, these prudent investments lay the necessary foundation for long-term economic growth and prosperity for our country.”
The fresh funding has implications for US science beyond the current financial year. It puts back on track the goal of doubling federal government support for physical science — an ambition of the America COMPETES Act of 2007 that had fallen behind schedule.
Further evidence of the Obama administration’s ambitions for science will become clear later this month, with the release of its revised budget for the 2009 financial year, which started on the 1st of October last year.
FONTE: Peter Gwynne is North America correspondent for Physics World