March 17, 2017
President Trump has released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. If adopted by Congress, this financial blueprint would do harm to the American scientific enterprise, abruptly and dangerously curtail progress in scientific research and choke off the productivity needed for economic growth and technological leadership. The ability of the United States to effectively and efficiently protect its citizens from disease and disability, external threats, economic stagnation, and natural and man-made disasters depends on a robust scientific community.
Cutting 19 percent of the National Institutes of Health’s annual budget, as proposed, would decimate medical research programs and imperil Americans’ welfare by virtually shuttering university-based research on treatments for cancer, zika virus, Alzheimer’s disease, and countless other health threats. A 31 percent reduction in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency would guarantee that programs designed to safeguard the public air and water supply would be terminated, leaving Americans little protection from dangerous pollutants. Additional cuts at the Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Geological Survey, and National Institutes of Standards and Technology would severely erode the nation’s economic competitiveness in the world and would unnecessarily boost threats against national security.
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society, founded in 1886, is an organization of 110,000 inductees and 500-plus chapters worldwide dedicated to the mission of improving the human condition by supporting the research enterprise, celebrating excellence in research, fostering integrity in science and engineering, and promoting the public’s understanding of science. The President’s proposal stands at odds with these principles. Congress must act to realign this budget proposal with the values normally associated with the American experience.