Congressional hearings on the President Bush's fiscal year 2008 budget have begun. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science recently began its consideration of science funding, including the National Science Foundation budget request. Among the witnesses testifying before the committee was National Science Board chairman, Dr. Steven C. Beering. Following opening statements and Dr. Beering's testimony, subcommittee chairman Mollohan (D-WV) inquired about the imbalance in proposed funding increases across science directorates, namely the 7 - 10 percent increase for the physical sciences directorates compared to the roughly 4.1 percent that would be received by the biological sciences. This inquiry led to further discussion about funding disparities and whether the FY 2008 NSF budget promotes an integrated research portfolio.
The subcommittee continued its inquiry into science funding Wednesday (28 February) afternoon with Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation and chairman of the National Academy of Sciences committee that wrote "Gathering Above the Rising Storm," the report behind the drive to fund physical sciences, and Dr. Alan I. Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Leshner thanked the committee for its commitment to science and for funding increases in FY 2007, but also stated that growth in biological science research continues to lag behind other sciences. As Leshner testified, "[a] successful innovative future depends on robust support for all scientific fields, and that all scientific fields need to rise together."
Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) stated that climate research also continues to decline in constant dollars with decreases at NASA in earth observing programs. He stressed the importance of funding climate change research by warning that the poles are the canaries of climate change.
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