Following is a statement by the Association of American Universities on three FY16 appropriations bills the House has passed that fund scientific research.
The House has now acted on three key FY16 appropriations bills that have an impact on the nation’s investment in research, and we are very concerned about the cuts to important areas of scientific research. We urge Congress to maintain a strong commitment to science across all the disciplines, and we hope that Congress and the President will reach a budget agreement that addresses our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges and facilitates greater and sustained investments in scientific research.
It is important to note that the House Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill, which funds the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA, and the Energy and Water bill, which includes the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science and ARPA-E, are constricted by sequestration-level spending caps. Nevertheless, while overall spending levels are inadequate, both bills make harmful cuts to specific areas of research.
The Commerce, Justice, Science bill imposes dramatic cuts from FY15 levels in the social and behavioral sciences and in geosciences, as well as in NASA’s Earth Sciences Directorate. The Energy and Water bill cuts biological and environmental research as well as the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Regarding the FY16 Defense appropriations bill, we are very disappointed that the House made a decision to cut Defense basic research – the foundation of long-term innovation vital to national security – by nearly eight percent. This cut is inexplicable given that the measure was exempted by the House from sequestration-level spending caps.
Curbing discretionary spending will not solve our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges. We believe Congress and the President should negotiate a major budget agreement that eliminates the sequestration-level discretionary spending caps and addresses entitlement and tax reforms. Continuing discretionary spending at the current levels will harm the research that is so important to our economy, health, and national security, and thus help lead to an innovation deficit for our country.
Those who believe our nation needs to continue laying a foundation for future innovation should pay close attention to these damaging, short-sighted cuts. As the appropriations process moves forward, we encourage Congress to provide robust and sustainable funding for America’s research enterprise.
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The Association of American Universities (AAU) is an association of 60 U.S. and two Canadian public and private research universities. It focuses on issues such as funding for research, research policy issues, and graduate and undergraduate education. AAU member universities are on the leading edge of innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to the nation's economy, security, and wellbeing. AAU’s 60 U.S. universities award nearly one-half of all U.S. doctoral degrees and 55 percent of those in STEM fields.