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White House Proposes 2011 Budget Freeze; FASEB Urges Increased NIH Spending

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – In his State of the Union address to the joint houses of government last night, US President Barack Obama proposed beginning to address the problem of massive national budget deficits by imposing a spending freeze on discretionary, non-military spending for three years, beginning with the 2011 fiscal year.

That freeze would include the departments that fund most federal research and development spending, such as the Labor, Health, and Education Department that funds the National Institutes of Health, and it would affect the National Science Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.

The president said that his upcoming budget proposal for next year will "reflect the stark reality of what we've inherited – a trillion-dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.

"Given these realities, everyone in this chamber – Democrats and Republicans – will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars," he said.

The freeze on discretionary spending would not affect ongoing expenses such as the 2010 budget or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which gave $30.8 billion and $10.4 billion to NIH, respectively.

The Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB) today asked for a sharp increase in funding for NIH and other agencies that fund biological research, and specifically recommended $37 billion for NIH.

FASEB President Mark Lively called 2011 "a critical year for science," and pointed out that ARRA, which is set to expire in 2010, "reminded us of the phenomenal creativity of the scientific community and the exciting, new ideas ready to be tried.
"Our goal is to sustain that excitement, maximize the return of those investments, and continue the innovative pipeline of medical and technological advancements that federal science agencies have always fostered," Lively added.