Barack Obama and Congress are about to go to war over science

Barack Obama and Congress are about to go to war over science

Obama's new budget sets the stage for a major battle over billions of dollars in science spending.

It’s his last budget proposal of his presidency, and President Barack Obama is making a big bet on science spending.

The fiscal year 2017 budget plan, released on Tuesday, would call for a 4 percent increase in research and development funding across the federal government, but some are criticizing his proposal for making it mandatory spending instead of allowing Congress to decide how much research funding is spent at each agency, and it could make this bill unpopular in Congress, according to a report.

Under the proposed buget, all major science agencies would get funding. But it comes with a risk: if Congress rejects the mandatory spending proposal, budgets at many science agencies would drop tremendously.

There is a chance the science agencies could avoid the huge cuts if lawmakers prioritize science and technology spending even if the mandatory spending is rejected.

Some of the big beneficiaries of the bill would include the National Institutes of Health, which is set to receive $33.1 billion under the bill. That’s an increase of $825 million, or 2.6 percent, over last year’s spending level. But that also includes $1.8 billion in mandatory spending, which shows that the NIH has actually seen a big cut to the discretionary budget that could be much worse if the mandatory spending levels aren’t approved.

The National Cancer Insitute would get an addition $680 million for a new effort to cure cancer using genomics and big-data analysis.

Another major initiative, a study that would track the health of one million Americans called the Precision Medicine Initiative, would receive $300 million under the proposal.

The National Science Foundation would get $7.9 billion, a big 6.7 percent increase over 2016, but it relies on $400 million in mandatory spending. Without it, the spending at that agency would increase just 1.3 percent, or $101 million, over last year.

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