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Revised list of cuts would bite deeper into US research

php1I5CTyPM.jpgUpdated 13 February.

The US House Appropriations Committee ramped up its attack on government spending this evening, releasing the text of a bill that it says represents the biggest round of spending cuts in US history.

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.


  1. Report this comment

    perelwll said:

    You know what You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by searching online for “Wise Health Insurance” If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

  2. Report this comment

    Kathleen said:

    In ideology and action, the Republican House would send us back to the Stone Age. How is the United States supposed to remain competitive in the world without funding for research and education? The patriarch in the sky they are putting all their hopes on has yet to step in and save us from ourselves, but they continue to cling to their delusions while the corporate elite run riot across the planet.

  3. Report this comment

    Uncle Al said:

    Everything of value we posses we license from the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Right wing Christian usurpation of US internal rule seeks God’s dominion of poverty, hunger, disease, filth, death, and silk-clad priests with whips.

    First, we starve all the scientists (Department of Energy must be extirpated for the common good – no political agenda there),

  4. Report this comment

    Gregory Grant said:

    We’re blind

    This article in Nature is telling in its omission. It laments the budget

    cuts, but the word “defense” does not appear anywhere in the article.

    How ridiculous. The defense budget, at more than 20 times the NIH budget (which itself is the 2nd largest discretionary item in the budget), is

    being raised substantially, again. Obama is doing it gleefully, there’s

    no resistance anywhere to be seen, no corporate media has pointed out this

    might be something to complain about, and so we don’t – he’s basically

    signing our economic death warrant and he’s glad to do it – meanwhile

    everything else is being cut: environmental protection, healthcare,

    energy, science. They want 5% reductin in NIH this year. That will kill

    so much research and affect the future health of so many people. And to

    make it worse, the money is being diverted to things like mowing down

    civilians and children from helicopter gunships. Obama should be locked

    up for murder. There’s far more than enough money to pay for everything

    we need in this country if we eliminate the biggest rip off in modern

    history, aka war spending. We are one of the least threatened countries

    in history, not because of our war spending, because in spite of it,

    becuse it has done nothing but make the world a much more dangerous place

    for everybody, dangers they then exploit to futher justify the rip-off.

    It’s about money, not about security, that should be obvious to everybody

    by now. I wager that Obama can get away with this kind better than any

    Republican would have been allowed to do it, because nobody pays attention

    when Obama does it. That’s why electing the wolf in sheep’s clothing

    (Obama) was a horrific thing for this country – with the exception of race

    relations. The sad thing is, I’m sure we’ve learned nothing and we’ll

    make the same mistakes over and over. We’re led there by our media who

    have poked out both of our eyes and then lie to us about what is right in

    front of our faces. And as a population, we are generally gullible enough

    to fall for it.

  5. Report this comment

    V said:

    I don’t see where HR1 cuts 1.63B from the NIH budget. It looks like it only cuts 260M (p. 290, line 13)

  6. Report this comment

    Eugenie Samuel Reich said:

    That refers to “non-competing grants”. There are additional cuts to “competing grants” and “buildings”. To see the cuts, check out the committee’s table at

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