In a recent blog entry, we reported passage by the U.S. Congress--and signing by the President--of the America COMPETES act, which provides an ambitious blueprint for federal science spending for the next few years--but doesn't actually allocate the money. That's the job of a dozen spending bills that Congress will consider over the next few months.
In the AAAS August Funding Update, Kei Koizumi analyzes the America COMPETES act and the probability that the ACT's promise would eventually be fulfilled. Koizumi points out that the Act goes well beyond the President's budget request; instead of cutting funding for other R&D programs as requested, "the Act would provide increases to every major nondefense R&D funding agency, and would turn proposed cuts into significant increases for the congressional priorities of biomedical research, environmental research (particularly climate change research), and energy R&D. The added billions in FY 2008 appropriations so far would turn a requested cut in federal support of basic and applied research into a real increase, after three years of decline."
But even though the President signed the Act, he might veto some of the funding bills that would fulfill its promises. "These increases," Koizumi writes, "depend on an overall congressional budget plan allocating $21 billion more for domestic appropriations than the President’s budget; because the President has threatened to veto any appropriations bills that exceed his budget request, these R&D increases could disappear or diminish this fall in negotiations between the President and Congress over final funding levels."
For more discussion of science budgets, see the August R&D Funding Update.