H.R. 1: House passes stimulus bill

This week was a stunning week, not only to my science colleagues but to people who’s job it is to communicate the needs of academia to the Federal government. What made this week unique, as one person put it, was that government actually did what it said it would do. It said it would allocate more money for science – both parties have said that for years now – and this week the House actually did it.

H.R. 1, the first bill of this new House, is the economic stimulus bill [1]. As passed by the House it allocates $2.5B for research in NSF, $400M for construction and equipment for approved NSF projects, and $100M for NSF educations activities; for DOE science, it allocates $2B for science.

For years, Congress has talked about innovation, and maintaining U.S. scientific leadership by investing in our people, our equipment, our ideas. Now, they are doing. God dammit, they are doing it. And we should thank them.

Now, we must also write to our Senators and encourage them to support this bill. They may change the numbers, but who cares – so long as they stick to their promise, to promote science as a means to increase innovation and stimulate the economy – then they’ll spend the money that the U.S. needs to be a leader in research. As long as the numbers are up, we can take science off life support and put it back on the road to recovery.

[1] http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.1:

Comic Coda on Bush and Science

It speaks for itself. Enjoy!

Obama address

You can find the President’s first weekly address online [1]. I wanted to highlight some language from the summary of the address:

The Administration is still working with Congress to refine the plan, but in the address, President Obama lays out the key priorities. He goes into detail, noting that the plan will update our electric grid by laying more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines; weatherize 2.5 million homes; protect health insurance for more than 8 million Americans in danger of losing their coverage; secure 90 major ports; renovate 10,000 schools; and triple the number of science fellowships.

Triple the number of science fellowships – that’s what I wanted to note. It seems in everything that gets talked about surrounding economic recovery, science and scientists are featured in some way. What a way to insure the next generation of scientists, training 3x more young people in the practice.

[1] http://www.whitehouse.gov/president-obama-delivers-your-weekly-address/

House moving fast on stimulus money

A friend and colleague of mine brought to my attention some fast-breaking news about the House plan to inject money into science agencies in the stimulus package. According to ASTRA, the Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America, reports [1] that the House plans to invest $1.9B in the Department of Energy and $3.0B in the National Science Foundation. According to their budget analysis of the proposal [2]. The proposed FY’09 budget from the House and Senate represented a roughly $0.6-0.7B increase for both agencies over the current continuing resolution. The stimulus plan in the House, by comparison, proposes total increases over the continuing resolution of $1.9B for DOE and $3B for NSF.

Where are the increases targeted? ASTRA reports specifically on these increases as for “basic science”, specifically:

Department of Energy: $1.9 billion for basic research into the physical sciences including high-energy physics, nuclear physics, and fusion energy sciences and improvements to DOE laboratories and scientific facilities. $400 million is for the Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy to support high-risk, high-payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency.

and for NSF,

National Science Foundation: $3 billion, including $2 billion for expanding employment opportunities in fundamental science and engineering to meet environmental challenges and to improve global economic competitiveness, $400 million to build major research facilities that perform cutting edge science, $300 million for major research equipment shared by institutions of higher education and other scientists, $200 million to repair and modernize science and engineering research facilities at the nation’s institutions of higher education and other science labs, and $100 million is also included to improve instruction in science, math and engineering.

Amazing. Who knows if these will survive, but they are COMPELLING numbers.  Time is of the essence, including a possible vote tomorrow, Wednesday, in the House. Fax or call your local representative and U.S. senators in support of this package, calling out the importance of basic science – and, yes, particle physics! [3] – to the nation.

Note added later: The American Institute of Physics (AIP) last week did post an FYI with the breakdown of the stimulus money and its impact on science [4].

[1] U.S. Innovation.org Analysis of Act

[2] www.usinnovation.org/files/ASTRAHouseScienceStimulus09.pdf

[3] http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/cms/?pid=1000671

[4] http://aip.org/fyi/2009/004.html