Question of the day: Why is basic research, particularly biomedical research, like highways and bridges? Answer: Because Congress loves them both, especially in this election year.

'MIRACULOUS': NIH, under the direction of Harold Varmus, would get an 8.4 percent increase in its budget under President Clinton's proposed plan.
For that reason, as much as any other, the spending plan that Congress is now writing for the fiscal year that begins October 1 shapes up as one of the best research-funding budgets in decades, and possibly the best ever.

President Bill Clinton set the tone last month, when he sent Congress a fiscal year (FY) 1999 budget that proposed a $2 billion increase, or 3 percent, in overall federal R&D spending. Clinton plans 8 percent jumps for both defense and civilian basic research, a 6 percent increase for civilian R&D, and a 0.3 percent trim in defense R&D that would raise...

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