On Friday we noted that the Republican Congressional leadership had effectively given up hope of resolving the 11 outstanding appropriations bills for FY 2007, including the bills that would provide the increases in science funding called for in the American Competitiveness Initiative we’ve talked about so frequently in this space. Instead, Congress passed a “continuing resolution” that would fund government at FY 2006 levels or lower through February 15, 2007, when the new Democratic leadership would be able to take its crack at passing the unfinished bills.
Now it appears the Democrats have decided against trying to complete the process. CQ.com (sub. req’d) reports today that Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the incoming chairs of the House and Senate appropriations committees, have given up hope of solving the FY 2007 impasse and elected to move a yearlong stopgap measure when the new Congress convenes next year:
“Unfortunately, there are no good options available to us to complete the unfinished work of the Republican Congress,” Obey and Byrd said. After discussions with our colleagues, we have decided to dispose of the Republican budget leftovers by passing a yearlong joint resolution.
“We will do our best to make whatever limited adjustments are possible within the confines of the Republican budget to address the nations most important policy concerns.”
This is obviously bad news for those of us in the science community who have worked hard to win increases contained in the ACI and in the House and Senate FY 07 appropriations bills. Unless ACI merits inclusion among “the nation’s most important policy concerns,” it’s likely that the increases that had been slated for NSF, NIST and the DOE Office of Science in FY 07 will be lost and the timetable for doubling the research funding for those agencies set back another year.
CRA, along with many members of the science and high-tech industry communities, will be working hard over the next few weeks to make just that case — that the increases called for in the ACI and the Democratic Innovation Agenda do merit inclusion among the nation’s most important policy concerns. There’s a chance the Democratic leadership will agree — though I’m not going to go out on a limb and try and assess that chance yet. The innovation agenda has been one of the top Democratic priorities and was something that incoming Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has indicated would be among the first issues considered under the new Congress.
We’ll bring you updates as we get further information and also detail ways in which you can help make the case for research. For now, if you haven’t become a member of CRA’s Computing Research Advocacy Network, this would be a great time to join. We’re going to need your help….