Washington — Advocates for scientists have lost their bid to persuade Congress to raise spending on physical-sciences research during the remainder of the 2008 fiscal year. The money is not contained in a war-spending bill that the U.S. House of Representatives is to consider on Thursday.
Universities had lobbied to increase money specifically for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Congress provided both agencies with minimal increases for 2008, far less than the amounts authorized by the America Competes Act, a law enacted last year to bolster technology development and the economy. As a result, layoffs are planned at Energy Department laboratories that serve academic researchers.
Thirty-one House members in both parties signed a letter in April endorsing a spending increase for the two agencies. But House leaders have been under pressure to squeeze increased spending into the bill for a variety of other civilian programs, including veterans’ benefits.
“We’re very disappointed” about the lack of research money, said Barry Toiv, a spokesman for the Association of American Universities. He said he hoped the proposal might yet gain traction in the Senate, where eight members signed a letter in March calling for the spending bill to include $350-million for the two agencies. —Jeffrey Brainard