House Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2012 Budget for NSF

The full House of Representatives Appropriations committee voted yesterday to approve the Commerce, Justice and Science bill that funds the National Science Foundation, among other agencies.  The bill sets the NSF budget at $6.9 billion, equal to the agency’s FY 2011 budget and more than $900 million less than President Obama’s FY12 request.  Given the current appetite for cutting government spending, the scientific community is pleased that the NSF budget was flat-funded without any decreases.  Within the NSF, however, there were changes made to budgetary outlays.  The Research and Related Activities program received a $43 million increase, while both the Education and Human Resources and Major Research Equipment & Facilities Construction programs will be faced with decreased budgets.

Politicians on the two sides of the aisle offered contrasting viewpoints of the bill’s allocations.  CJS subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf, R-Va., called the legislation “a strong bill with strategic investments in national security, job creation and science” and argued that the bill “represents our best take on matching needs with scarce resources.” By contrast, Appropriations committee ranking member Norm Dicks, D-Wash., expressed concern about the long-term effects spending reductions would have on the economy, specifically commenting that the NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account was “dramatically underfunded.”

The full of House of Representatives will vote on the CJS bill later this summer.  ASBMB will continue to monitor the bill’s progress.

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