In DepthU.S. Policy

White House details proposed cuts to science agencies

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Science  22 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6433, pp. 1258
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6433.1258

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This week, the White House offered a more detailed look at its 2020 budget request to Congress. Last week's outline promised savage cuts to science, and the additional numbers don't soften the blow. President Donald Trump's $4.7 trillion plan would slash federal spending on basic research by at least 10.5% for the fiscal year that begins 1 October. No major science agency is spared. The National Institutes of Health would see a cut of $5 billion, or 13%, to $34.4 billion, translating to the loss of about 3800 competitive research grants. The National Science Foundation (NSF) drops by $1 billion, or 12%, to $7.1 billion; the impact includes some 400 fewer research fellowships for graduate students. A 16.5% cut at the Department of Energy's Office of Science, to $5.5 billion, would strike renewable energy and environmental research programs particularly hard. NASA's science portfolio would see an 8% cut, to $6.3 billion, with the agency proposing to cancel the flagship Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope as well several earth science missions. Numerous climate and environmental science programs at the Environmental Protection Agency and interior and agriculture departments also get the ax. Even basic science at the Department of Defense—which the budget favors with an overall 5% increase—would feel the pain, dropping 8% to $2.3 billion.