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February 26, 1999

Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Co-chairs of the Science & Technology Caucus, issued a joint statement reacting to the Clinton Administration’s FY 2000 budget request for R&D. Calling the President’s request a "mixed blessing," the senators praised the commitment to civilian R&D, while disagreeing with proposed cuts for defense research of nearly six percent.

The senators also raised concern that in future years, according to the President’s projections and citing spending caps, appropriations for much of the civilian R&D program would see only modest increases, remain static or even face reductions. Earlier this month, Senator Frist introduced S 726, legislation calling for doubling federal civilian R&D spending over the next twelve years; Senator Lieberman was a co-sponsor of the bill (see related article).

In the House, Science Committee Chair James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) issued an eight-page critical reaction to the Administration’s budget request for R&D. Rep. Sensenbrenner said the President’s budget overspends the budget cap by $17 billion while total R&D spending could see a $1 billion decrease after adjusted for inflation. Because civilian R&D is proposed to grow by 2.9 percent in the Clinton budget, most of the impact of inflation would be felt shrinking defense research spending. "For every dollar increase in non-defense R&D, defense R&D loses almost two dollars," Sensenbrenner said.

Rep. Sensenbrenner continued by stating the 5-year spending projections in the Clinton R&D budget do not keep pace with inflation and could decline as much as 8 percent in real dollars based on current inflation rates. Rep. Sensenbrenner reported civilian R&D would see a 2 percent decrease in funding by the year 2004 when the President’s budget requests for the outyears are adjusted for inflation.

The budget review and analysis prepared by Rep. Sensenbrenner can be found on the web at http://www.house.gov/science/budget_analysis.htm. The press release issued by Senators Frist and Lieberman can be found on Sen. Lieberman’s webpage at http://www.senate.gov/~lieberman/r021199e.html