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Senate 2012 Funding Bill Includes Small Bump for FDA, Cut for NSF

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Senate yesterday passed a 2012 appropriations bill for several federal departments that would provide a small increase for the Food and Drug Administration but would results in small cuts or flat research funding for others, such as the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The Senate's 'minibus' spending bill calls for $6.7 billion for the National Science Foundation, a cut of $162 million, or 2.4 percent, from the level enacted for 2011. The NSF appropriation would include up to $100 million for grants for major research equipment and facilities construction, as well as $117.1 million for buying and upgrading major research equipment, facilities, and other capital assets.

The bill also provides $2.5 billion to FDA, compared with $2.45 billion last year, with at least part of the increase intended to support implementation of the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act.

The plan calls for $2.31 billion to fund the USDA's National Institute on Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which supports a wide range of molecular biology studies, a cut of 1.6 percent from $2.35 billion in FY 2011. Of that total funding around $266 million would support the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

The Senate bill also would provide $680 million to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a reduction of $70 million compared with last year.

The minibus bill, which won the support of all Senate Democrats and gained some Republican votes to pass comfortably at 69 to 30, also would provide $6 million to fund the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"The bill invests more than $12 billion in scientific research and high impact research and technology development, to create new products and new jobs for the future," Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcomittee Chairwoman Senator Barbara Mikulski (D – Md.) said in a statement.

The final funding amount that NSF, FDA, and other departments receive in 2012 likely will depend on how the activities of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction affect discretionary funding and on the ability of the Senate to strike an agreement with the House of Representatives, which passed a bill providing $6.9 billion for NSF in July.

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