Following its passage in the House of Representatives by a 286-140 vote, House Joint Resolution 20 (H.J. Res. 20), a continuing resolution (CR) to provide appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2007, passed the Senate by a vote of 81-15 on 14 February 2007. The Senate-passed version included no additional amendments and funded all agencies, unless otherwise noted, at the 2006 enacted levels. With appropriations for FY 2007 completed, the House and Senate now begin hearings on the President’s FY 2008 budget request.

The President’s budget request for fiscal year 2008 was released on 5 February 2007. Budget priorities for the administration once again include a commitment to national security and cultivating national economic growth. President Bush has again pledged to control spending with the goal of balancing the federal budget over the next five years. Some leading Democrats contend that the Administration’s pledge to cut the budget is unrealistic and based on incomplete numbers and potentially harsh program cuts. The administration argues, however, that it can meet the country’s needs and priorities while cutting non-defense discretionary spending once again in 2008.

A short-term analysis of discretionary funding by agency shows that non-defense discretionary spending budgets have seen few increases, if any at all. For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency budget request once again includes cuts.

According to the 2008 budget plan, President Bush intends to protect and preserve the environment by “launching the National Parks Centennial Initiative; enhancing the ability to observe, protect, and manage the Earth’s resources; securing critical water infrastructure; improving our nation’s water quality and supplies; working with States and other nations to reduce air pollution; and partnering for cooperative conservation.”

The administration’s FY 2008 research and development priorities (R&D) remain focused, as in the FY 2007 budget, on President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). The ACI proposal calls for a doubling of investment over ten years in key civilian federal agencies that support basic research in the physical sciences and engineering (National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) core labs). Further, the administration has strongly encouraged executive departments and agencies to coordinate activities to pursue the following R&D budget priorities: homeland security, alternative energy technology, advanced networking and high-end computing, nanotechnology, and environmental research related to climate change and ocean science.

In the FY 2008 budget, President Bush proposes $142.655 billion in total federal R&D funding, $5.763 billion more than he requested for FY 2007 and $7.123 billion more than Congress enacted for FY 2006. Funding for development would increase from the $75.999 billion enacted in FY 2006 to $82.774 billion proposed for FY 2008, reflecting large increases in proposed spending for Department of Defense weapons and NASA spacecraft. The $55.426 billion proposed for basic and applied research in FY 2008, however, is lower than funding levels enacted by Congress in FY 2006 ($55.887 billion). Total non-defense R&D funding would increase from $57.498 enacted in FY 2006 and $58.505 requested in FY 2007 to $59.949 billion in the President’s FY 2008 budget.

 


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