APS Public Affiars
City College of the CUNY
Federal Science Funding—What can be done this year?
After a decade of policy advocacy and discussion on the relationship between science and economic competitiveness, Congress and the White House finally acknowledged the premise late in 2005. The House Democrats issued their “Innovation Agenda” in November, and less than two months later, the President released his “American Competitiveness Initiative.” The two documents called for doubling of the research budgets for the physical sciences. Although both political parties endorsed the plans, the 109th Congress, under Republican control, failed to pass appropriations bills before the November 2006 elections. The 110th Congress, which convened under Democratic control in January 2007, drafted what amounted to a Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2007, in which science received a partial waiver that included some of the promised increases, but fell far short of the spending levels originally intended.
Last year, the 110th Congress, like its predecessor, failed to complete its appropriations work on time and finally, just before Christmas and under a veto threat, provided the President with an Omnibus Bill that slashed the intended increases for science and left the affected agencies with effective cuts of more than 3 percent in level of activity. However, in some areas the cuts were draconian, and if unaddressed for a year, they will cause those areas irreparable harm. With the 2008 elections looming, most forecasters believe that the Democratic Senate will leave funding bills on the table until voters have selected a new President. The government would be forced to run on a Continuing Resolution through February 2009, and science would be kept at current levels until then, leaving the areas most affected by last year's reductions in extreme jeopardy. To mitigate the most egregious damage caused by the Fiscal Year 2008 budget, advocates in Congress, in the Executive Branch and outside government have been trying to craft an acceptable bipartisan emergency supplemental funding plan. We will explore the history of these plans, the prospects for their adoption and the outlook for science the coming year.
Michael Lubell is a Professor of Physics at the City College of the City University of New York and Director of Public Affairs of the American Physical Society. He received his B.A from Columbia University and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Yale, where he was a faculty member for ten years before assuming his position at CCNY. He has held fellowships from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and visiting appointments at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University of Texas-Austin, the University of Bielefeld and the Santa Barbara Institute of Theoretical Physics. He served as CCNY Physics Department Chairman for six and half years. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. Lubell's publications comprise more than 300 articles, abstracts and columns in scientific journals, books, conference proceedings and newspapers in the fields of high-energy physics; nuclear physics; atomic, molecular and optical physics; and science policy. He appears on radio and TV in North America, Europe and Asia and is one of the experts most frequently quoted by the U.S. media on science policy issues. He has been a newspaper columnist and presently writes a bimonthly opinion piece, “Inside the Beltway,” for APS News. He has worked on many political campaigns, has held elective office and has been a policy advisor to several members of the United States Congress. He is credited as being one of the pioneers of science lobbying in Washington.
His biography appears in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.