Cuts to US Science Loom

As Congress prepares a strategy to trim the national deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade, legislators suggest cuts to government research.

Oct 19, 2011
Bob Grant

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Republicans at the helm of the US House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space and Technology have released a plan to trim $1.5 billion from the 2012 federal research budget, outlining specific programs that should be cut or held at steady funding levels.

The plan was sent to the Congressional "Super Committee," which was created as part of a last-ditch deficit reduction/debt ceiling bill passed in August. The committee is tasked with devising a strategy to reduce the US deficit by $1.2 trillion in the next ten years.

In a 14-page letter, Republican leaders of the House Committee detailed cuts that took aim at new, Obama-backed research projects—such as programs designed to commercialize modes of alternative energy and a NASA satellite designed to track greenhouse gas emissions—while suggesting that long-standing, core programs at the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy remain untouched. "It appears that they are recommending that climate science programs take a disproportionately bigger hit than other science programs," Jay Gulledge, senior scientist and director for science and impacts at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, told ScienceInsider.

Check ScienceInsider's detailed coverage of the proposed measures and read a letter from the House committee's ranking Democrat, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), who implores the super committee to find methods of deficit reduction other than cutting key science and technology programs.