House Spending Panel Makes Deep Cuts to Research

The appropriations committee in the House of Representatives has proposed cutting $62 billion from current spending across the government, including large reductions at the three leading agencies funding basic research: the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The president's budget for next year will be out shortly.

The House's 2011 plan, released Friday evening, would cover spending for the rest of this fiscal year. Agencies are now under a so-called continuing resolution that holds them to 2010 spending levels, and House Republicans have said the new plan is a down payment on their promise to roll back government spending to 2008 levels. For NIH and DOE's Office of Science, the House plan would accomplish that in one fell swoop. It would slash NIH's current budget of $31.1 billion to $29.5 billion, and the Office of Science from $4.9 billion to $4 billion. NSF's current $6.9 billion budget would drop by almost $400 million, marginally above 2009 levels. The proposal also targets climate change research across the government and the Administration's plans to expand clean energy research, as well as the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

"These cuts are not ambiguous, across-the-board reductions but thoughtful, line-by-line reductions in specific programs … and affect nearly every facet of the federal government," says Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY), chair of the spending panel. The panel's first attempt last week was widely criticized by fiscal conservatives, who demanded more cuts.

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