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'Treading Water'

The $1 trillion in sequestration cuts in the US are leaving many federal agencies wondering about the future, the New York Times writes.

Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, calls 2013 the "darkest ever" year for science. He adds that the reliance on short-term continuing resolutions for he budget adds further uncertainty. "Continuing resolutions discourage you from trying something new and bold," he tells the Times. "You're supposed to tread water. And science is very badly served by that tread-water message."

The Times' Taking Note blog says in a related post that the sequester "has also produced shock waves that will continue harming the country for years to come, because researchers operate on long-term schedules and need a reliable stream of revenue to produce results." It adds that the University of Chicago has closed three labs, Arkansas State University is laying off more than two dozen researchers, and George Mason University is letting HIV researchers go.

"But rather than wake up and reverse this ruinous trend, Congress is preparing to keep it going, and possibly make it worse," the Taking Note blog from the Times' editorial pages adds. "At the moment, the stalemate on the 2014 federal budget between the House and Senate means that a continuing resolution — keeping spending at the impoverished sequester levels — is the most likely outcome."