Zika is another hot topic worth mentioning. The virus, which is spreading across parts of the US, puts few adults at risk but is highly damaging and life-threatening to unborn children. A vaccine won’t be ready in time for the current epidemic – which may end in three years’ time – so containment is a priority, and this needs funding.
Both public health groups and the White House want Congress to finally resolve a battle between two opposing groups to approve such funding. A bipartisan group agreed to provide $1.1 billion, which was $800 million below that which was requested by the Obama administration.
The compromise was squashed, however, when certain lawmakers tried to add clauses to it which would partly defund Obamacare, lift pesticide-based environmental regulations, and even restrict the funding to services providing abortions. The hope is that funding is approved without such draconian measures this time around.
Fusion research, which hopes to ultimately create a power source that has no carbon footprint and has a near-infinite energy supply, is also up for debate. The Department of Energy (DOE) has been given a 1 percent increase, not the 4 percent requested by the White House. Unfortunately, the two chambers can’t agree on how this money should be spent. The Senate wants to cut the fusion budget by a third, but the House wants to boost it a little.
Perhaps most frustratingly, there are major disagreements over NASA’s Earth Science budget, a significant portion of which looks at the omnipresent and worsening threat of climate change. The White House is keen to keep funding the Earth Science budget into 2017, but many influential Republicans have often expressed their disdain for this, and want funds directed to planetary exploration instead.
The war over science continues.
There are questions over how much money should be invested in cancer research, too. A and N photography/Shutterstock