am sure you are aware it is a Republican majority and there is an effort under way to fundamentally change the federal government's role in science and technology and in trade.
Last week, the Senate passed a budget that was designed to eliminate our federal deficit over the next seven years. The House had passed its version of that same budget a week earlier. Although there are some major differences between these two budgets, particularly with regard to tax cuts, defense spending, and domestic discretionary spending, one common feature is that both budgets contain a drastic cut in federal support for civilian research and development across the government.
I believe that little attention has been paid to this part of the budget-balancing effort, compared with the substantial attention that has been paid to the issue of cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and education, and the issue of tax cuts for the wealthy. But in my view, at least, this drastic cut in federal support for civilian research and development may be the place where the Republican budgets will do the most damage to our nation's future well-being and prosperity.
Overall, civilian research and development spending will be cut by 30-40 percent by the year 2002 and will then be at a four-decade low as a percentage of our economy. Some agencies, such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, may be cut only at the inflation rate during the next seven years, but the other agencies that are involved in research and development, such as NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration], the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] appear slated for much deeper reductions.
For those who are not familiar with the budget process, let me explain why I cannot speak with a little more certainty about the effect of these budgets. The budget resolutions, which were passed last week and the week before, make many assumptions about federal programs, but the only binding assumption that affects civilian applied research is the total that these budget resolutions contain for this large category called domestic discretionary spending.
For fiscal year 1995, the total for domestic discretionary spending is approximately $257 billion. Under the Senate version, in the year 2002, that will drop to $234 billion or a 10 percent reduction, coupled with seven years of no inflation adjustments. Under the House version, the domestic discretionary total in 2002 is even lower, at $229 billion.
If civilian research is treated, on average, like other programs in this domestic discretionary spending category, which I believe is probably the best case considering the strong constituency that some of the other programs have, then it would be cut by 30 percent in real terms.
If some of the other programs in that category, such as highway funding, law enforcement, and veterans' programs, are protected from deep cuts, when funding is finally allocated by the appropriations committees, then the cuts in civilian research could reach 40 percent in real terms.