The American Chemical Society (ACS) urges Congress and the President to cement America’s global economic and innovation leadership by making reliable investments in the science and technology (S&T) enterprise.
The House has passed three FY 2016 appropriations bills that would impact American S&T. If enacted, the Commerce, Justice, Science bill would drastically reduce funding for research and development (R&D) in geosciences and social and behavioral sciences. Meanwhile, the Energy and Water appropriations bill would hinder the United States’ ability to reach energy independence by severely decreasing funding for Department of Energy programs in Biological and Environmental Research and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (known as ARPA-E) would receive flat funding, resulting in a budget cut due to inflation.
The House’s nearly eight percent cut to basic research at the Department of Defense is especially disconcerting. In addition to ensuring our national security, defense R&D has led to significant innovations that fuel our economy today, including the internet, GPS, lasers, pharmaceuticals and new synthetic materials. The related Senate bills, while in some cases marginally better than those in the House, still only provide constrained and flat funding for R&D due to the existing budget caps.
We are at a critical point in history. Although the nation faces longterm fiscal challenges that must be addressed, our economic competitiveness depends on a robust research enterprise. We strongly urge lawmakers to work together and negotiate a major budget agreement that lifts discretionary spending caps and eliminates the threat of sequestration.
Maintaining rigid restrictions on discretionary spending is shortsighted and would only increase the United States’ innovation deficit and constrain the economic growth that creates jobs and fosters US innovation and global competitiveness.