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Congress Puts Off Decision on 2009 Budget

Figuring out how much the U.S. government will spend this year on science got a little more complicated today after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the 2009 spending bills would not be taken up until the end of the month. That’s likely to be after Congress approves billions of dollars for science as part of the stimulus package to be spent over the next 18 months. The convoluted schedule means federal science officials may get news of their windfall before they know how much their base budgets will be for 2009—adding confusion to an already uncertain, if hopeful, federal budget season for researchers. Congress must act by 6 March to extend a temporary spending measure for the fiscal year that began in October.