Magazine article Issues in Science and Technology

Drive to Double R&D Spending Gains Momentum

Magazine article Issues in Science and Technology

Drive to Double R&D Spending Gains Momentum

Article excerpt

The spotlight on the importance of national investments in R&D has shifted and intensified recently. In a June 8 commencement speech at the Georgia Institute of Technology, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) endorsed a doubling of federal funding for scientific research during the next eight years. On June 25, Senators Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) introduced a bipartisan bill to double federal funding for civilian R&D during the next 12 years. The legislation has now been approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and sent to the full Senate for action.

The Frist-Rockefeller bill, called the Federal Research Investment Act (S. 2217), supplants a bill introduced last year by Senators Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), Pete Domenici (RN.M.), and Jeff Bingaman (DN.M.). That bill, S. 1305, had stalled in the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. The four cosponsors of S. 1305 are now backing the Frist-Rockefeller bill, which differs in a number of ways from S. 1305. The new legislation would gradually increase federal support for basic scientific and precompetitive engineering research in 14 civilian agencies during the next 12 years. (S. 1305 had supported an increase in 12 civilian agencies during a 10-year period.) S. 2217 would increase funding by 2.5 percent annually above the rate of inflation and, assuming a 3 percent inflation rate, would bring the total federal investment in civilian R&D to $67.9 billion by 2010. …

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