This Year's Budget Looks Really Promising For Science, And We're Shocked

Wait - what?

8 FEB 2018

Top lawmakers in Congress have shocked the scientific community by announcing a budget agreement that looks really promising for science spending over the next few years.

Under the new deal, which is still not confirmed and is very much a work in progress, federal spending this year and next would be about $300 billion more than allowed by spending limits. This means that in the 2018 fiscal year, domestic spending would get an extra $63 billion.


It's still not clear exactly how that domestic budget will ultimately be distributed, but if approved, it is highly likely that some of that money will go towards important government science agencies.

For example, the Senate has proposed giving the NIH a $2 billion increase in 2018 for the next two years, which is a whole billion dollars more than the House proposed. Plus, the NIH will receive $500 million on top of that from the 21st Century Cures Act.

The National Science Foundation (NFS) could also stand to benefit from the budget. While the House has suggested keeping the NSF's budget the same, Rep. John Culbersoon, who chairs the subcommittee that oversees NSF, has said he wants to give it additional funding if Congress raises the caps.

As you can imagine, researchers and scientists are thrilled. Especially after last year's budget fiasco, when President Trump threatened massive cuts to pretty much every science agency. It's crazy to think that just a year ago, President Trump proposed slashing the NIH by 22 percent and NSF by 13 percent.

And while Trump ultimately didn't get his way, the process seriously frightened scientists and pro-science organizations, who saw the Trump administration's budget proposal as a direct attack against science and scientific research.

For years, the research community has been begging Congress to break their spending limits, which they argue will not hurt national debt because they don't apply to mandatory spending. By strictly adhering to spending limits, critics argue the government is doing real and lasting damage to the nation's security and the ability to fund good science.

But don't get too excited. First, the deal has to be approved by the Senate and House and signed by President Trump. While the Senate looks as though they largely approve the proposal, the House is much more hesitant.

Democrats in the House are holding out because they want the proposal to include protections for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. Many Republicans, including the President himself, vehemently oppose this idea.

Nevertheless, House Republicans are confident they can get the votes before Friday. They have until midnight on Thursday to try.