Press Release

AIP FYI #112: Worsening Budget Outlook Could Impact FY 2002 S&T Spending

By SpaceRef Editor
August 31, 2001
Filed under ,

A deteriorating budget outlook threatens science and
technology funding for FY 2002, which starts in one month.
Vigilance will be required to ensure that S&T budgets already
considered by the House or Senate do not slip as Congress and
the Administration struggle to make the books balance.

Policymakers are in a box. A weakening economy and tax
reduction have diminished projected federal revenues. Yet
increases are sought for selected programs, notably education,
defense, and agriculture. The result is a greatly diminished
projected federal budget surplus for FY 2002. The FY 2002
books may balance only if the Medicare surplus is included, an
option that the Republican chairman of the House Budget
Committee has already ruled out. Other choices are as
unpalatable, including tax increases, deficit spending, or a
reduction in defense spending.

With only eighteen working days until the start of FY 2002,
Congress has not set almost two-thirds of all discretionary
spending. A major uncertainty is the defense budget.
Pentagon officials caution that the $18 billion in extra
funding that President Bush requested is insufficient, and
there will be pressure to appropriate additional money. Yet
key Republican and Democratic senators are unwilling to
release even the $18 billion. Suggestions have been made that
offsetting cuts be made elsewhere within the Pentagon budget,
such as by a reduction in force size, an unpopular strategy
with many lawmakers.

Earlier this week President Bush offered his perspective on
the budget. He stated:

“In the next few weeks, Congress will face some critical
choices, and some old temptations. I’m asking them to let go
of some of the old ways of doing business in Washington, D.C.
Most of you have been around long enough to know how the
process works. Often the important things are put off to
last. And in the meantime, lots of new spending gets thrown
in. Near the end of the process, suddenly we hear that
Congress is about to go over the budget, so the items that
have been saved for last are the ones most likely to get cut.

“And guess which — guess what usually has been saved for the
last? The defense bill, leaving our national security at the
mercy of budget games and last-minute cuts. This year, we
might even see our administration’s two highest priorities,
education and national defense being played off against each
other. That’s the old way of doing business, and it’s time to
stop it. We may have different agendas in Washington, but we
all have the same basic obligations. We must start with the
things that matter most to the future and security of our
country. This time — and from this time forward, let us put
education and national defense at the first of the line, not
at the last.”

So what does all of this have to do with FY 2002 S&T budgets?
Unless Congress and the Administration can agree to new
budgetary ground rules, funding increases will have to be
offset by selective or across-the-board reductions in other
programs. Preventing such reductions, and building support
for increases for S&T programs, will require active
constituent involvement during the next few weeks. See the
AIP Science Policy web site at http://www.aip.org/gov for
information on the status of S&T budgets, guidance on
constituent communication, and the names of key Members of
Congress.

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Richard M .Jones

Public Information Division

The American Institute of Physics

fyi@aip.org

(301) 209-3095

http://www.aip.org/gov

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SpaceRef staff editor.