Friday, 26 April 96 Washington, DC
1. THE FY 96 BUDGET WAR IS OVER! SCIENCE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.
Yesterday -- seven months, two government shutdowns, and thirteen continuing resolutions after the start of the 1996 fiscal year -- Congress and the President agreed on a spending bill. Neal Lane, Director of NSF, expressed relief at the outcome, which included an additional $40M for NSF above the level agreed to last fall. He tempered his joy by noting that the House Science Committee approved an FY 97 authorization bill on Wednesday that cuts the President's request for NSF by $75M. Long-term funding prospects are even gloomier (WN 19 Apr 96). Science was not under attack in the FY 96 budget war; it was simply left out of the debate. Scientists who would have choked on the word "lobby" just a few years ago are fast becoming effective grass-roots lobbyists.
2. DOWNSIZING NSF: WALKER AMENDMENT ELIMINATES ONE DIRECTORATE.
An amendment to the Omnibus Science Bill, which was reported out of the Science Committee yesterday, requires NSF to eliminate one of its seven directorates. Chairman Robert Walker (R-PA) insists it will be left to the NSF to decide which, but most observers think he has Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences in mind. A year ago, Walker singled out SBE for elimination, claiming that research in these areas had become "politically correct" (WN 19 May 95). The bill is expected to go to the House floor on May 9.
3. NSF OR NSEF? BARTON AMENDMENT REQUIRES NSF TO CHANGE ITS NAME.
It's been ten years since Congress changed the organic document creating the National Science Foundation to read "science and engineering" instead of "science" everywhere except in the title; now they want to change that too. The amendment to the Omnibus Science Bill, introduced by Joe Barton (R-TX), passed 23-22 following no discernable lines. The only lobbying came from the professional engineering community; no one took it very seriously since the authorization bill is not likely to become law anyway. But if it does, we at WN offer a suggestion: change the name to National Science and Engineering Foundation, and then eliminate the Engineering Directorate to conform to the Walker Amendment.
4. BUT WHERE'S DOE? ONE WHEEL SEEMS TO HAVE COME OFF THE OMNIBUS.
Fearing defections in Republican ranks over hefty cuts in energy conservation and fusion, Chairman Walker simply left DOE out of the bill. He expects to have a separate bill for DOE in June.
5. FERMI AWARD: UGO FANO SHARES THE 1995 AWARD WITH MARTIN KAMEN.
Still active in research at the University of Chicago, Ugo Fano joined Enrico Fermi's group in Italy in 1934 and published his first physics paper the same year. His name is attached to a half-dozen important effects in atomic and molecular physics. Martin Kamen's career is almost as long. A nuclear chemist, he is best known as the co-discoverer of carbon-14 in 1940.