The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the largest single life science Society with more than 37,000 members, is writing to urge you to adopt a Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget that will increase federal funding for innovative basic research and public health programs to the highest level possible.
The Budget Conference Committee is a critical opportunity to reach agreement on an FY 2014 discretionary budget that replaces sequestration and invests in research, public health and innovation programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy, Office of Science (DOE), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Defense (DOD), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the Committee considers deficit reduction strategies and spending levels, we urge the Budget Committee to prioritize and strengthen funding for scientific research and public health programs.
Scientific research and public health programs have been seriously reduced as the result of the Budget Control Act and the impact of sequestration. We urge the Committee to restore sequestration funding that was cut from research programs, to replace or find alternatives to future sequestration and to devise a long-term strategy to ensure that federally funded research programs receive the necessary funding to continue their essential contribution to the growth of the Nation’s economy and to ensuring public health and national security. Constraining discretionary funding for research programs will adversely affect the ability of the Nation to improve public health and economic recovery. For example:
- The NIH supports research programs to improve public health and stimulate valuable economic sectors in health care and biotechnology and create our future scientific workforce. In recent years, even before the first round of sequestration cuts, the NIH has faced an alarming budget situation, losing one-fifth of its purchasing power over the past decade. Decreased federal funding for the NIH jeopardizes the Nation’s competitive edge in biomedicine and biotechnology and thus our economic success in the innovation dependent, global marketplace. Further budget cuts will continue to have a chilling effect on whether young Americans choose to enter careers in research.
- The CDC, the lead federal agency to prevent disease, injury and disability, must be adequately funded to combat both known and new and emerging public health threats. The ASM is concerned that budgetary cuts are eroding CDC’s capabilities in key areas like preparedness, outbreak response, disease surveillance, laboratory diagnosis and support to state, local and international partners. The budget constraints now in effect and those scheduled for 2014 will prove deleterious to our Nation’s public health system.
- The NSF supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. There is no doubt that NSF funded research contributes greatly to the Nation’s economic growth and improves quality of life for us all. The ASM is greatly concerned about further sequestration cuts to the NSF budget and their impact on research and development. NSF’s tradition of expending most of its budget to support extramural projects will inevitably link budget cuts to significantly diminished research throughout the country, especially at academic institutions.
- The FDA protects consumers by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, the food supply and other consumer and health related products. The ASM urges increased funding for FDA to strengthen an agency burdened by too few resources needed to protect public health. Decreasing FDA’s budget will affect its ability to respond to market globalization, food safety concerns, antibiotic resistance, and emergent pathogens.
- The DOE Office of Science (OS) leads federal agencies in funding research and development (R&D) in energy, a field critical to the Nation’s innovation and economic success. The DOE supports innovation and discovery in computer science, materials science, mathematics, biological and environmental science, nanotechnology and engineering. It has been a leader in the field of genomics that led to understanding the human genome that is the basis for many advances in biotechnology.
- Food safety and research programs at the USDA ensure the quality, quantity and safety of the US food supply and safeguard plant, human and animal health. The Nation’s public health and economic well-being are firmly rooted in agriculture and agriculture research. Investments in agriculture research generate nearly $10 for every federal dollar spent, yet federal funding has stagnated at roughly the same level for the past thirty years, even before sequestration cuts.
Scientific research generates economic benefits for the Nation by creating jobs and stimulating economic growth. The research and development and training of the next generation of scientists at the Nation’s educational institutions are the foundation for economic prosperity, global competitiveness and national security.
The caps on discretionary funding in the Budget Control Act of 2011 place limits on annual appropriations through 2021 which will inevitably result in an alarming decline in funding for research and public health programs. These cuts will have profoundly adverse consequences in the near and long term for science and public health in the United States and jeopardizes our standing as the world leader in innovative basic research. The ASM strongly urges the Budget Committee to ensure that fiscal policies strengthen, not decrease, the Nation’s scientific and public health programs.
The ASM stands ready to assist Congress and to respond to any questions. Thank you for your consideration.
Jeffery Miller, Ph.D., President, ASM
Ronald M. Atlas, Ph.D., Chair, Public and Scientific Affairs Board