Science groups are reacting with dismay to a partial shutdown of the U.S. government that began today after the U.S. Senate failed last night to advance funding legislation. Many scientists, meanwhile, are scrambling to determine whether they will be able to keep working.
The shutdown is “just deeply disappointing because Congress has had months to fund the government,” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a statement. “Without a resolution the federal scientific enterprise will come to a screeching halt, potentially adding millions of dollars in costs and months of delay to taxpayer funded projects.”
The funding lapse “deals another serious blow to an already beleaguered American scientific enterprise,” said Rush Holt, chief executive officer of AAAS in Washington, D.C., (the publisher of ScienceInsider), in a statement. He suggested the shutdown will add to long-term funding strains that have reduced federal spending on research from about 1.25% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) to 0.82%, “which is a near 40-year low.”