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Government-funded Scientists Waiting for Congress to Decide their Fate

by Countable | 12.22.17

What’s the story?

The continuing resolution (CR) Congress passed to keep the government running through January 19, 2018 puts several research agencies in a precarious financial position.

The latest CR requires that scientists "tread cautiously, balancing their hopes for additional funding with watching their dollars, in case their final 2018 budget is lower than current spending levels," according to the journal Science.

Which agencies are affected?

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH). In September, the Senate approved a $2 billion increase for the organization, nearly doubling a $1.1 billion hike approved by the House. "But until Congress passes a final 2018 budget," Science writes, “[the NIH] will have to maintain 2017 spending levels.” This comes at the same time President Donald Trump has proposed cutting the agency’s 2018 budget by $8 billion.

  • National Science Foundation (NSF). The President also wants to slash NSF’s funding by $820 billion. While Congress doesn’t favor such steep reductions, "the amounts they have proposed for 2018 would still leave NSF between $135 million and $160 million below current levels."

  • Census Bureau. Science reports that "an extended budget freeze is especially pernicious for the Census Bureau, which is ramping up for the 2020 census." While the Trump administration has requested $187 million to help the bureau prepare for the April 2020 count, “Congress so far has shown little appetite for the higher number. And census advocates say the agency needs more than double that amount to catch up on chronic underfunding.” For now, Science writes, “census officials must make do without an increase as they prepare for a dry run in April 2018.”

What do you think?

When Congress returns to the budget, what would you like to see happen with government-funded research agencies? Should they increase spending? Or, as Trump wants, should funding be cut? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: Catalin Rusnac / iStockphoto)

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(53)
  • Michael.J.L
    12/22/2017
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    Sounds like a TRUMP GOP & Co. Budget. 1. Slash the NIH budget since everyone knows science has nothing to do with health or disease reporting, and people have no business knowing anyway. 2. Cut the NSF budget, since everyone knows science is fake, use Evangelicals to tell you what is true or not, I mean if the Bible says so..... 3. Cut the Census Bureau budget, because, well, there are too many voters now (Liberal/Progressive ones) so no census could be another way to purge voters and Gerrymander districts to favor GOP voters.

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  • S
    12/23/2017
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    In 2015 three scientists from the US received Nobel Prizes. Their work was funded by NIH. NIH funding provided the first development of implants that created the ability of 5 paralyzed men to move their lower limbs and allow them movement similar to walking. Research is currently being done on breast cancer, memory diseases, epilepsy, diabetes, childhood leukemia, childhood obesity, antibiotic combinations to fight MSRA, devices targeting an individual’s cancer and determining specific treatment protocols for that person’s individual cancer, opioid addiction and treatment, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries, to name a few. National Science’s main recipient of funding, by far, is the military followed by HHS and Energy. They fund the study of psyhics, chemistry, non medical science, engineering, and educators, the design of electrical design systems, AI, computer science, math as well as NASA. The Census Bureau assigns the number of seats by state in the House every ten years which also determines number in the Electoral College. Based upon population they determine where schools, hospitals, fire & police depts. should be built in communities, where infrastructure and transportation needs are . They provide the report on the economic and foreign trade indices and the report of income and poverty in the US. Yes, they should all be funded and their budgets increased. The sooner the better.

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  • Dara
    12/23/2017
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    First off the tax bill is a scam. It’s corporate welfare for the top 1% and a big fat middle finger to the lower and middle class workers. Next, to our scientists and their community you must be fully funded and autonomous of the government. This country apparently needs to be drug kicking and screaming into the 21st century. We aren’t living in the dark ages, we must protect the scientific community and not allow ignorant backward thinking. The days of imprisoning scientists and censoring their speech, research, and thinking has passed. Stand up America.

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  • Thomas
    12/23/2017
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    Trump hates science because it’s facts. He, the Lying King, hates facts. And no one in congress has the balls to tell him other wise. Back to the 19th century we go. Spineless congressman.

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  • Steven
    12/23/2017
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    I was a government scientist for 34 years. Uncertainty of funding seriously disrupted research and putting together a cohesive public health intervention. Toying with shutdowns is devastating. Lab equipment and experiments can’t be turned on and off with the flipping of a switch. Millions and millions of dollars are lost with short term funding bills. Scientific studies are long term and need long term commitments and assurances. During shutdowns we were not even allowed to continue our studies without pay.

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  • RadicalModerate
    12/23/2017
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    Scientists are more important than politicians. Lab rats are more important than politicians. We could save money by using the Congress for lab experiments. In that way, John Katko might actually contribute to society instead of leaching from it.

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  • Lee
    12/23/2017
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    While many Federal Agencies are essential in continuing research and other services, there are numerous agencies full of bureaucrats doing little or no work. I call that “paper shuffling”. A recent study shows that Federal employees are overpaid for the work they do. The entire Federal Government is over bloated and in need of a complete overhaul. There is a need to review the purpose and intent of Federal Agencies and employees fair hiring practices. If you look at the Federal Government today there are agencies that serve little o no purpose and should be dismantled and closed. Also, there are offices in Federal Agencies where 80% or more of its employees are blacks from the top down and feel empowered to run amok their offices. Further, their level of arrogance is beyond the pale. I call that reverse discrimination. Those people blasting Federal Cuts need not to worry. The Federal government will survive. We are very fortunate and lucky that we live in the best Country in the World.

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  • Susan
    12/23/2017
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    As a person who worked as a census taker in 2010, I say CUT their budget. Most of the data is so flawed as to be useless anyway. My first look at a census and how it is taken was a shocker. I worked on early NERFU and absolutely everything we did was thrown out and done over. Why? I have no idea, except the people collecting the data could not keep track of what they did and didn't have.

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  • Christine
    12/23/2017
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    Stop the war on SCIENCE. The Pence-Evangelical influence has got to be stopped.

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  • Terry
    12/23/2017
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    Cut spending !!!!!

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  • RadicalModerate
    12/23/2017
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    Scientists should pray. Then if their research is deemed valuable, Jesus will tell Trump to give them funding.

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  • Claude
    12/23/2017
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    It is not clear to me why the republicans continue to attack funding science, Medicare, social security, welfare etc to pay for tax breaks to commercial Realestate, Trump, banks, wealthy. Senator Rubio do you have explanation?

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  • IMJae
    12/22/2017
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    Well I’m surprised trump wants to cut the census one one hand. This gives more data for gerrymandering. On the other hand if many of the poor and middle class are under counted in the census that’s less federal monies to the states for social/education/health programs. Cutting monies for anything to do with science...no surprise here. Maybe we’ll get hit with a pandemic...won’t have the personnel, equipment or funds to stop the spread. Of course reducing funding to the NSF is par for the course. Science has been used to tell the world climate change is caused by humans... which poses problems for all those companies that have and continue to get rich on those same things that cause or are used to cause a warming planet. Science shows melting ice caps and glaciers, as well as island nations going under water. Science is in the way of the oligarchs. But science is wonderful for everything else!! The rich and uninformable are destroying our nation and our planet.

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  • Niki
    12/23/2017
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    Scientists are the source of our progress as a nation and the foundation of our economy. Scientists should not only be fully funded, but should have their budgets dramatically increased!

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  • Arlene
    12/26/2017
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    Looks like the current Congress is waging a war on science and progress and the planet and PEOPLE. Please speak out!!!

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  • Kellianne
    12/24/2017
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    This is an obvious attempt to indirectly control political issues through financial oppression. What happens when the engines to collect data in key issues get their funding cut? False information and propaganda replace it. Please do not let this happen.

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  • gailnabity
    12/23/2017
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    I will activate with my Congressional Rep Mark Meadow and Senators Burr and Tillson to fund these science and research agencies at the full budget requested. The 2020 Census? Come on!! This is paramount funding for state and local funds to be determined for budgets based on accurate statistics. That’s also true for Federal funding to assure these funds match true statistics on populations.

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  • Donna
    12/23/2017
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    The destruction of agencies meant to protect the citizens needs to stop. Science is real, regardless of what trump and his band of misfits would have you believe. Hollowing out agencies such as NIH, CDC, EPA and NSF may be viewed by short-sighted, small-government Republicans as a way to cut costs and shrink government. What happens when a deadly virus epidemic hits Texas or Oklahoma or Ohio or North Dakota and there are no scientists left to produce a cure? Do the members of Congress plan on relying on private industry to put their profits aside and help save the lives of thousands of citizens? Good luck with that. There is waste in government. There is redundancy. Instead of just cutting the shit out of agencies that truly serve a purpose, just because they have SCIENCE on their side, wouldn't it be more prudent to actually solve the problem and not create impending catastrophes? If you want to know somewhere to start, check the White House. Why is the government paying for the President's lawyer (Ty Cobb)? Why are we paying the salaries of the Press Secretary and Assistant Press Secretary, Communications Director and anyone else in the Press Office so they can generate propaganda and feed it to the public? Why do members of Congress have such a large budget and staff? As a constituent, I can tell you it is not to stay in touch with me. Why do we have to spend so much money on more military equipment (ships, jets, guns, tanks) when we can't seem to keep the ones we have in one piece. Exactly how many of our naval vessels have hit something lately? The taxpayers should pay to have this fixed yet lose all the scientists at the EPA? Not one of these examples involves a scientist. This attack on science is another step toward keeping the truth from the public. Someone should let the White House and the rest of this administration know we will not allow that to happen. EVER! This is not an autocratic society and with the strength and resolve of the people, it never will be.

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  • Margaret
    12/23/2017
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    Please preserve and increase needed funding for NIH, NSF and the. Census! Please do not vote to cut their funding. Thank you.

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  • Sean
    12/25/2017
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    Please support the budgets of the NIH and NSF going forward. The USA has been a leader in science and technology for decades because of the foresight of precious CongressIonal action. This role has benefited not only the US economy but also the world as a whole. If you believe that the country needs more people to go into STEM careers then you should make sure there is a job for them when they finish their many, many years of education.

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