NSF Budget Year Starts Out Well

The National Science Foundation (NSF) would receive a 3.3% budget increase next year under a bill taken up today by a Senate spending panel. Although the $240 million increase falls $100 million short of the president's request for the $7 billion agency, it still represents a remarkable show of support for the basic research agency, given that the panel had $1 billion less to work with this year.

"This budget will continue to keep American science on the cutting edge," explained Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. "It also follows the bipartisan America COMPETES Act reauthorization that we have worked so hard on."

In settling on an overall figure of $7.273 billion for NSF, the spending panel sliced $100 million from the Obama Administration's request of nearly $6 billion to support the agency's six research directorates. At the same time, the panel adopted the president's proposed funding level for the other pieces of NSF's budget, including education, major research facilities, and operating expenses.

The panel approved the budget by a bipartisan vote of 17 to 1, with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) the sole dissenter. Panel members agreed to Mikulski's request to hold any amendments until the bill is taken up by the full appropriations committee later this month.