Science Pared in Latest Senate Stimulus Package

Biomedical research trumped other science as U.S. senators labored over the weekend on a $820 billion stimulus package awaiting a vote tomorrow. The bipartisan compromise, proposed by moderate Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME), chips away at funding levels for several research agencies that were contained in the original spending measure. In particular, it slices $200 million from the research account at the National Science Foundation; $200 million from science at NASA; $200 million from operations, research, and facilities at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; $100 million for supercomputers at Department of Energy national labs; and $100 million from the intramural research programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. However, it retains a $6.5 billion bump for research at the National Institutes of Health that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) offered as an amendment to the original package. After the Senate votes it will face a tough negotiation with the House of Representatives to work out a final bill, with President Barack Obama’s goal of finishing by 16 February looking tougher every day.