WASHINGTON — A spending bill approved by a House-Senate conference this week boosts spending for U.S. research programs that had been facing steep budget cuts.
The fiscal 2006 appropriation for the National Science Foundation (NSF) was increased by conferees by 3.3 percent over last year to $5.65 billion. The $58 million increase is expected to preserve funding for all major NSF research programs, according to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on a science appropriations subcommittee.
The spending package also increased funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (Gaithersburg, Md.) to $762 million.
The increases follow months of intense lobbying by pro-technology and industry groups which warned that R&D cuts would harmed U.S. competitiveness.
Groups such as the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) praised the increases, which are expected to be signed into law by President Bush.
"Congressional action increasing the National Science Foundation funding shows that our national leaders understand the critical importance of basic research in ensuring U.S. leadership in science and technology," said SIA President George Scalise. "We are aware that Congress and the [Bush] administration are facing severe pressures to hold down spending. It took real courage and vision to provide increased funding for basic research in the face of extreme budget constraints."