March 26th, 2012, by Abby Benson  

Week in Review, or Budget Backtracking

On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) broke from the bipartisan agreement reached in the Budget Control Act (BCA) when he released a proposed FY2013 budget that would reduce the top-line spending number by $19 billion. The budget also proposed reforms to the U.S. tax code and entitlements, and offered alternatives to dealing with automatic spending cuts set to begin in January 2013.

Within the proposed budget, the two pots of discretionary fundingdefense and non-defensewould be treated quite differently. Defense spending would receive $8 billion more than the level specified in the BCA, while non-defense discretionary spending would receive $27 billion less than the level specified in the BCA. This second number is important for research funding, as it is the pot which supports most federal research agencies.

The budget proposal does mention research once, affirming the general Republican view that government support of basic research, versus applied, represents a more appropriate federal role. The document states “this budget would continue funding essential government missions, including energy security and basic research and development, while paring back duplicative spending and non-core functions, such as applied and commercial research or development projects best left to the private sector.”

In a blog post written after the release, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Jacob Zients criticized the proposed budget, including this statement on its effects on research, “Investments in science, medical research, space, and technology would be cut by more than $100 billion over the next decade. The number of new grants  from NIH for promising research projects would shrink by more than 1,600 in 2014 and by over 16,000 over a decade, potentially curtailing or slowing research to fight Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and AIDS.  The National Science Foundation would cut over 11,000 grants over the next decade, eliminating support for over 13,000 researchers, students, and teachers in 2014 alone.”

While the House will likely approve Ryan’s budget measure this week, the Senate will continue to use the higher FY 2013 level specified in the BCA, all making for a fun conference later in the year.

Also of Note

Health. A group of over 150 House representatives sent a letter to House Appropriators in support of increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), whose FY 2013 budget request is flat from last year. The letter cites concerns over increased competition in biomedical research with Asian countries, and cites NIH as an important driver of economic growth.

A new report out from advocacy group United for Medical Research (UMR) entitled NIH’S Role in Sustaining the U.S. Economy, finds that NIH funding supported 432,000 jobs in 2011, broken down by state. A GenomeWeb Daily News article outlines efforts by the report authors to identify the full multiplier effect of NIH funding, not simply the jobs created by investigators conducting research.

Innovation. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) announced a new joint training Patent Examiners Training Initiative. This program is “designed to improve the strength and quality of U.S. patents through specialized training between patent examiners, innovators and scientists.”

In Print

Nature’s blog reports on a recent House Appropriations Committee hearing focused on NIH’s new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

The American Institutes of Physics (AIP) FYI blog has summaries of a recent House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the FY 2013 request for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and a House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing focus on the National Science Foundation (NSF) Major Research Equipment and Facilities Management (MREFC) program.

SpacePolicyOnline reports on a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the FY 2013 budget request for NASA, with a particular focus on cuts to the planetary science program.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports on a recent House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the FY 2013 budget request for NIH.

The Chronicle reports on a Supreme Court ruling invalidating a patent on a medical testing process, which could have a huge effect on biomedical patenting more broadly.

What’s on Deck

Tuesday (3/27)

Wednesday (3/28)

Thursday (3/29)


Responses

  1. Week in Review, or Springing into Recess :: NEWScience Policy says:

    April 2nd, 2012 at 7:34 am (#)

    [...] spring recess last Friday after passing the House budget resolution for FYFiscal Year 2013. As described last week, this plan would cut $19 billion from the FYFiscal Year 2013 spending level outlined in the Budget [...]