President Obama releases FY15 budget request

Today, President Obama released his budget request for fiscal 2015. With regard to science funding agencies, Obama’s FY15 budget calls for increasing the budgets of several federal science funding agencies, including a 1 percent increase to the National Institutes of Health ( from $29.9 billion to $30.2 billion) and a nearly 2 percent increase to the National Science Foundation (from $7.17 billion to $7.3 billion).

In the ASBMB response to Obama’s budget request, Public Affairs Director Ben Corb said “Any funding increase in times of austerity is of significant benefit for the community. However, the NIH is still below pre-sequester levels of funding for the agency. The scientific community still needs help to recover from these cuts.”

Sequestration slashed the FY13 NIH budget by 5 percent, or $1.5 billion. This resulted in over 600 grants going unfunded and more than 1,000 scientists losing funding for their research. While the Ryan-Murray budget agreement resulted in nearly $1 billion being restored to the NIH for FY14, this made up for only a portion of the losses due to sequestration.

The ASBMB strongly urges the President and Congress to find a fiscally responsible mechanism that addresses our nation’s debt and deficit while removing the possibility of further sequestration. Furthermore, the ASBMB is advocating for $32 billion for the NIH and $7.6 billion for the NSF to prevent further erosion of the purchasing power of these federal agencies and set the nation on a course to robust growth for this fundamental American enterprise.

Said Corb, “Austerity measures and the sequester are the biggest threats to growth in scientific research. These poorly designed budgeting tools only hinder American scientific progress, and there is a real possibility that the U.S. will lose its position as the global leader in biomedical research because of sequester.”

Not only are austerity measures preventing growth of the research enterprise, the diversion of funds to specific projects diminishes the money available for investigator-initiated research. For example, most of the $300 million increase for the NIH would be slated for high profile NIH projects such as the BRAIN Initiative, the Common Fund and other programs. Thus, the increases proposed in this budget would do little to help individual investigators trying to find funds at the NIH for their research. Over at the NSF, the BIO directorate would actually lose money if Obama’s budget passed. Dr. Cora Marrett, acting director of the NSF, did answer a direct question as to why this was, but she hinted that more details may come out on the March 10 NSF briefing on the budget. Nevertheless, these developments have left many science advocates unimpressed with Obama’s FY15 budget.

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