WASHINGTON—The status of research funding bills for 1988, as Congress returns from its month-long summer break, reflects the difference between word and deed in politics.

In January President Reagan proposed a federal budget that called for a healthy increase for NSF, selective increases for R&D at NASA, and a sharp reduction in funding for NIH. Eight months later, as Congress approaches its October 1 deadline to appropriate money for the 1988 fiscal year, the opposite appears more likely to occur—a substantial increase for NIH, and a possible freeze in the NSF and NASA budgets.

Despite all the rhetoric about the need to revitalize the nation’s space program and the importance of basic research in competing with our economic adversaries, the two agencies most responsible for achieving those goals are emerging as the edd men out in the perennial congressional search for ways to reduos the federal deficit. And NIH, which...

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