Researchers with the National Institutes of Standards and Technology use a visualization laboratory to explore the movement of concrete particles.

Earl Zubkoff/NIST

NIST would escape deep cuts in House spending plan

A House of Representatives spending panel is offering a compromise between the deep cuts sought by President Donald Trump for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the agency’s current budget.

A bill to be marked up tomorrow that covers several science agencies would give NIST $865 million in 2018. That’s nearly $90 million lower than in 2017, but it would be $140 million higher than Trump has requested. NIST’s science programs would get $660 million, an amount that falls between its current budget of $690 million and Trump’s plan to spend $600 million.

NIST is housed within the Department of Commerce, and its mission includes support for both basic research across the physical sciences and engineering and more applied research. The latter often triggers a partisan split within Congress, with Democrats favoring such activities as the Manufacturing Expansion Partnership (MEP) and Republicans questioning its value.

Yet although the Trump administration has proposed eliminating MEP in 2018, the House panel would only trim it by $28 million, to $100 million. At the same time, the bill skimps on new construction and renovation of NIST facilities, proposing $9 million less than the current $109 million budget and $4 million less than the president’s request.