On Thursday, 15 January, Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled an unprecedented legislative proposal to provide $825 billion to stimulate the economy. Among the objectives for the stimulus package is the creation or preservation of three million jobs by 2010. Within the draft package moving through the House of Representatives, is nearly $275 billion for tax cuts and $550 billion in other government spending, including funds for state and local government programs. President Obama has praised legislators and said that the measure is a significant down payment on our most urgent challenges.
Funding for science is included in the legislation working its way through the House. At present, there is an estimated $13 billion being targeted to scientific research and additional funds for research infrastructure. Currently, the allocations are as follows:
National Institutes of Health: at least $2 billion to support research; approximately $2.5 billion to update NIH, CDC, and non-federal research and university research facilities.
Department of Energy: approximately $2 billion into basic science research, and an additional $2.4 billion into research and technologies that focus on renewable energy and carbon capture.
National Science Foundation: $3 billion, which includes $2 billion towards expanding employment in fundamental science and engineering designed to meet environmental challenges and improve US economic competitiveness. Of the remainder, $100 million would go towards improving science education and $900 million would be dedicated to research infrastructure improvement.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration: $400 million for climate change science, including basic research and satellite sensors for monitoring climate change.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $600 million for satellite development, including climate sensors and climate modeling.
Agricultural Research Service: $209 million for infrastructure improvement. The estimated price tag on facilities repairs for ARS is currently at $315 million.
United States Geological Survey: $200 million for repairing and modernizing climate monitoring systems and computing capacity.
Additionally science is getting much more indirect funding, largely through “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects which can provide an immediate infusion of funds into the economy. Some of these funds would be provided to the Environmental Protection Agency for Superfund site cleanup, the U.S. Forest Service for fire management and capital improvements, the National Park Service for maintenance, and US Geological Survey for facilities repair, mapping, and volcano monitoring.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was particularly proud of the focus on science in the stimulus legislation, and has noted that much of the bill is focused on developing clean and efficient energy and on transforming the economy through investments in science and technology. The legislation has not passed the House, yet. House leaders have said that they hope to have it before the full chamber for a vote by the end of January and on the President’s desk by mid-February. However, the Senate will have to pass the measure after the House and any differences between the measures addressed prior to it being sent to the President.
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