On Thursday, the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee marked up its FY 2012 funding bill. Of concern to ASBMB members, the National Science Foundation was allocated $6.86 billion, identical to the FY 2011 level and more than $900 million less than President Obama’s request of $7.767 billion. In a press release, CJS subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf, R-Va., stated that the bill “focused resources on the most critical areas” and served to “boost U.S. competitiveness through investments in science.”
ASBMB, in conjunction with the Coalition for National Science Funding, advocated for the President’s request of $7.767 billion for NSF in FY 2012. The CNSF emphasized that “a healthy NSF is necessary for maintaining a prosperous innovation pipeline that ultimately leads to the development of new technologies, leading to new products and improvement of existing products.” Reacting to the CJS markup, CNSF chairman Sam Rankin stated that “under the current political and economic environment, we should be grateful that NSF was level funded by the CJS Subcommittee.”
That the NSF budget avoided being cut is particularly impressive given the recent criticism the agency has received. Just as encouraging is the support that NSF has received from various sources. New York Times columnist David Brooks penned an editorial defending the agency’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences, which was targeted for elimination in the now-infamous report from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Ok. Meanwhile, ASBMB has joined with over 100 other scientific societies and institutions to sign on to a letter drafted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science that similarly responds to attacks on the SBE Directorate.