Updated 13 February.
This time it’s the turn of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to feel the committee’s scalpel with a proposed 5% cut for each, relative to 2010 spending levels. The cuts amount to $1.629 billion from the 2010 NIH budget and $359.5 million from NSF. A previous list of proposed cuts, released on 9 February, had left NIH at level funding and NSF with an increase relative to 2010.
A quick perusal of the revised numbers reveals the following reductions:
– $2859.4 million (-29%) for the Environmental Protection Agency
– $1397.4 million (-22%) for the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionn
– $893.2 million (-18%) for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science
– $159.5 million (-18%) for the National Institute of Standards and Technology
– $303 million (-2%) for NASA
All agenices listed fared worse than they did earlier in the week. The Environmental Protection Agency has been particularly savaged with a proposed cut of nearly $3 billion relative to 2010. Among other consequences, this would undercut the agency’s ability to monitor and regulate carbon dioxide emissions, a court-bestowed power which many lawmakers are eager neutralize.
Among science agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is unique in receiving an increase in the committee’s proposed budget relative to its 2010 funding levels. This reason, says the legislation’s summary document, is “to prevent some work stoppage on NOAA’s weather satellite program that will help protect Americans from weather-related natural disasters.”
The revised list was anticipated after previous cuts failed to impress Republican caucus members, including so-called “tea party” members, who have been pressuring House leaders to make good on a campaign promise to trim $100 billion from President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget request. Yesterday, the committee, which is chaired by Republican congressman Hal Rogers (pictured) of Kentucky, acknowledged that new and deeper cuts would be unveiled as part of the package that representatives will be asked to vote on next week.
Rogers issued a statement saying the cuts were motivated by concerns over the nearly $1.5 trillion federal deficit. “The cuts in this continuing resolution are the result of difficult work by our subcommittees who have weeded out excessive, unnecessary, and wasteful spending, making tough choices to prioritize programs based on their effectiveness and benefit to the American people,” he said.
The text of the legislation seems to remove any uncertainy as to whether Republican leaders would try to water down their promise of draconian spending measures. It also sets the stage for a tough battle on Capitol Hill.
The US government is currently funded under the latest in a series of continuing resolutions that maintains funding at 2010 levels from the beginning of the 2011 fiscal year on 1 October, 2010, to 4 March, 2011. The new proposals will be debated on the House floor next week and are still subject to confirmation by the Senate and President Barack Obama. The government now faces the threat of a shutdown if the Republican-majority House and Democratic-majority Senate cannot reach agreement on a new continuing resolution that would enable spending beyond 4 March. In Washington, where government workers have been warned for weeks to re-evaluate budget requests and scale back expectations, rumours of unpaid furloughs and suspensions of services abound. A similar budget impasse during the Clinton administration result in a shut down of most government activities for a total of 27 days in 1995-1996.
Daniel Inouye (Democrat, Hawaii), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee, slammed the proposals in a statement. “The priorities identified in this proposal for some of the largest cuts – environmental protection, healthcare, energy, science and law enforcement – are essential to the current and future well-being of our economy and communities across the country,” he said. Inouye added he was disturbed that some Republicans seemed willing to risk a shutdown of the government. “The consequences of a shutdown would be immediate and dire, including… significant damage to our nation’s economy and job creation”
This entry was modifed on 13 February to include information about cuts to the EPA and NOAA. Follow Nature online for further updates and for coverage of the Obama administration’s 2012 budget request on 14 February.