The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

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.