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President Obama’s last budget is unlikely to garner congressional support
February 12, 2016 | By the staff of the APS Office of Public Affairs
President Obama’s budget request, released on February 9, 2016, adheres to the two-year discretionary spending caps the White House and Congress had negotiated last fall. To try to circumvent those caps, the president would establish “mandatory” accounts that require action by congressional authorizers and tax writers. His proposal is unlikely to generate much enthusiasm from lawmakers who are seeking ways to reduce the upward trajectory of mandatory accounts, which include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, House and Senate Republican leaders have refused to allow administration officials to testify on behalf of the White House budget. That denial is almost unprecedented, and it serves notice that Congress has little interest in the presidential request.
The accompanying tables illustrate the winners and losers under both presidential scenarios. The tables use the following acronyms and designations. DOD RDT&E: Defense Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation; DOD 6.1: Basic Research; 6.2; Applied Research; 6.3: Advanced Technology Development; DOE: Department of Energy; ARPA-E: Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy; EERE: Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy; ASCR: Advanced Scientific Computing Research; BES: Basic Energy Sciences; BER: Biological and Environmental Research; FES: Fusion Energy Sciences; HEP: High-Energy Physics
Absent a “mandatory” spending workaround, most science spending would either decline or remain relatively flat. The DOE Office of Science, the DOE EERE account and the DOE “ARPA-E” program would be exceptions, as would the National Institute of Standards (NIST) Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) and the DOD Applied Research (6.2) programs. The accompanying tables show the winners and losers under both scenarios.