Highlights of Science Policy and Budget Developments in 2003

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Publication date: 
31 December 2004
Number: 
166

JANUARY: Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), a strong supporter of S&T, becomes new Majority Leader. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) introduces an authorization bill to dramatically increase DOE science funding. DOE Office of Science sponsors a public workshop on forthcoming Strategic Plan. Five representatives urge Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to announce US plans to participate in ITER; Abraham proclaims US will do so.

FEBRUARY: Bush Administration sends FY 2004 budget request to Congress, amidst confusing budget situation as FY 2003 appropriations remain incomplete. First congressional hearing is held on Space Shuttle Columbia accident, while Columbia Accident Investigation Board begins work. A final version of PCAST panel letter is released recommending parity between life sciences funding and physical sciences and engineering funding. House nanotechnology bill introduced that is similar to a Senate bill introduced in January. House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and members praise and criticize Bush Administration's FY 2004 S&T budget request.

MARCH: Important appropriations hearings completed for DOE Office of Science. DOE's Ray Orbach tells a fusion advisory committee that there will likely be a couple of lean budget years before ITER construction commences. Generally positive hearing for NASA before Science Committee. Senior DOD officials voice support for a 3% target of overall defense spending for S&T programs.

APRIL: Senators Christopher Bond (R-MO) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) express displeasure at Administration's NSF budget request; Bond predicts he will find more money. Science Committee leadership introduces a bill to boost DOE science funding. House Appropriations subcommittee hearing for NASA demonstrates general support and good will for NASA, its budget request, and its administrator. House and Senate appropriators react very favorably to new Homeland Security S&T Under Secretary. House appropriators criticize Administration's NSF request. OSTP Director John Marburger says Administration is working to resolve visa processing delays. Nobel Laureates and corporate leaders send a letter to Administration urging higher level of FY 2005 S&T funding. Senate energy policy authorization bill calls for significant increases in DOE science funding.

MAY: House and Senate start review of Administration's nuclear weapons and testing initiatives. Moves in Senate to advance climate change legislation. House passes nanotechnology bill. OSTP official calls burning plasma experiment the crucial missing element in a fusion energy science program. House and Senate defense authorizers propose essentially flat S&T funding authorization for FY 2004. Momentum builds for expanded federal research program on hydrogen energy. DOE's Orbach says it is "terribly important" that an energy policy bill with science authorization numbers be passed. House and Senate authorizers agree with Administration's nuclear weapons initiatives.

JUNE: National Science Board declares that federal government should have an "aggressive effort to better prepare the Nation's S&E workforce." K-12 science education bills move in the House. NSF seeks comments on five-year draft Strategic Plan that sets priorities, allocates resources, and discusses measurement. House passes dramatic increases for Homeland Security S&T funding for FY 2004. House appropriators recommend sizeable increases for defense S&T funding, although basic research funding would increase only 1.1%. House and Senate appropriators pass funding bills with 1.4% and 4.0% increases for National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. House and Senate appropriators pass K-12 funding bills. Senate hearings start on DOE lab management. Senate authorizers send nanotechnology bill to floor.

JULY: House Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Hobson (R-OH) drafts an FY 2004 DOE bill with an increase of 6.7% for science programs. Senate appropriators approve overall 5.9% increase in defense S&T funding, with 4.0% decline in basic research funding. Senate appropriators recommend 56.9% increase in Homeland Security S&T program funding. House and Senate appropriators recommend increases of less than 2.0% in USGS funding. NSF funding bill approved by House appropriators with 6.2% proposed increase. Senate appropriators declare that declining trends for physical science funding and student enrollment "must be reversed." Senate passes a nuclear plant construction loan guarantee by narrow margin. House appropriators vote to eliminate Advanced Technology Program in FY 2004. Funding bill passes House that reduces or eliminates nuclear weapons initiatives and testing requests. Administration releases climate change research strategic plan. House appropriators approve basically flat FY 2004 funding for NASA. Orbach identifies ITER as path-forward for all large-scale international science collaboration.

AUGUST: Administration official discusses FY 2005 R&D priorities. A DOE workshop report identifies hydrogen energy research needs and opportunities. Shuttle Columbia Accident Report is released and receives much praise on Capitol Hill.

SEPTEMBER: Congressional committees begin shuttle accident hearings, with calls made on both sides of witness table for agency vision. Senate appropriators vote for flat funding for NASA. Senate votes to fund Administration's nuclear weapons initiatives. Former AIP Fellow, George Atkinson, named Secretary of State's S&T Advisor. Congress sends FY 2004 DOD bill to White House with 13.3% increase for S&T, but flat funding for basic research. Homeland Security appropriations bill also goes to President, with 50% increase for R&D and related activities. Senate appropriators defy House, and restore ATP FY 2004 funding.

OCTOBER: NIH releases medical research roadmap calling for interdisciplinary research. Work continues on an energy policy bill that contains good funding numbers for DOE science program. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board report released on conduct of federally-supported science states that DOE has a "paramount responsibility for keeping American science preeminent in the 21st century." House Science Committee hearing on Mars as a human space flight objective. A presidential council seeks input on management of federal research grants. Congressional appropriators approve 3.3% increase for USGS in FY 2004. Senior DOE official tells advisory committee that "budget drives everything that we do." Positive hearing held on Math and Science Partnership education programs. Senate votes against mandatory greenhouse gas emissions controls; supporters encouraged by number of positive votes.

NOVEMBER: Congressional appropriators settle on 5.8% increase for DOE Office of Science. Administration wins nuclear weapons initiatives and testing funding for FY 2004. Energy Secretary Abraham announces 20-year facilities plan in a major address at National Press Club. Science Committee hearing on Administration's climate change research program. Senior OSTP official cautions advisory panel that "balance" is a "red-hot word."

DECEMBER: Congress runs out of time to pass remaining FY 2004 appropriations bills, and leadership promises to return to pass an omnibus bill in January containing 5.0% increase for NSF, 3.2% increase for NIBIB, 48.5% for Department of Education Math and Science Partnership Program, 11.8% cut for NIST (with flat funding for ATP), and a drop of less than 1% for NASA. President signs nanotechnology authorization bill. American Geophysical Union releases a statement on the human impacts of climate change.

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