Trump budget decried as 'devastating' and an 'assault on science'

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dramatic cuts to key US science agencies and research programmes proposed again, but Congress will have the last word

Total US government spending on research would decline by nearly 17% under the final 2018 budget proposed by President Trump yesterday, according to a preliminary analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

‘If the White House budget plan were to become law, it would devastate America’s science and technology enterprise,’ said Rush Holt, the AAAS chief executive, during a teleconference with reporters. ‘This severe and unjustifiably rapid cut comes at a time when our funding for science research is already far below what would be optimal – we are nowhere close as a nation to investing what we should be investing in research and development,’ added Holt, a former congressman and physicist.

The Obama administration fell just short on its goal of increasing federal spending on R&D to more than 3% of GDP.

One aspect of Trump’s budget that greatly concerns the AAAS, and other science organisations, is a 22% cut proposed for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). During the teleconference, Research!America president Mary Woolley cited estimates that these cuts to the NIH alone in 2018 would mean the loss of nearly 90,000 jobs and $15 billion (£12 billion) in economic activity, as well as 2000 fewer research grants.

Beyond slashing the NIH, the White House also seeks an 11% reduction in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a 17% decrease for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science and a 70% cut for the DOE’s energy efficiency and renewable energy research programmes. The Trump proposal would also institute a 44% decrease in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) science and technology programmes.

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