MIT scientists benefit from US budget deal
Bipartisan bill will extend funding for MIT’s nuclear facility, Alcator C-mod
Massachusetts fishermen and MIT scientists are among the winners in a $1.012 trillion spending deal released Monday night by Congress.
Under the bill poised to clear Congress this week, $75 million in fisheries disaster relief will go toward to the Commerce Department, which will then distribute it to states.
The assistance is part of a bipartisan bill that is set to begin moving through Congress to fund the US government through Sept. 30. The compromise signals a break from years of forced budget cuts and congressional funding fights.
“We’re very pleased,” Representative John Tierney, who represents North Shore communities including the fishing community of Gloucester, told the Globe on Tuesday. “We’ve been desperate for our folks to get the help that they need.”
The $75 million in fisheries money marks the first relief since the Northeast groundfishing industry was declared an economic disaster in September 2012. The Senate previously voted for $150 million in disaster assistance, but the House appropriated no funding.
The omnibus spending measure also would give $22.2 million to the Alcator C-Mod facility at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which examines nuclear fusion as a potential energy source. The long-running research experiment was planning to cease its operation, after its already reduced federal funding was cut further last year.
In fiscal year 2013, the program’s funding was first reduced from $25 million to $14 million. MIT stopped accepting graduate students into the program in March 2012.
The bill also will help MIT, Harvard, and other research universities with its inclusion of $7.1 billion for National Science Foundation funding. NSF is an independent federal agency that funds about 20 percent of all federally supported basic research in American colleges.
The National Institutes of Health, the world’s largest funder of medical research, would receive $29.9 billion. In 2012, Boston drew the highest National Institutes of Health funding out of any city in the nation, securing total grants of $1.78 billion.
Head Start will also receive a $1 billion funding boost nationwide, a program whose forced cuts announced in March hurt low-income families in Massachusetts and other states. The early childhood development program served 13,295 Massachusetts children in 2012.
As the 2013 school year began, 2,015 children in the state were projected to no longer qualify for services due to funding cuts, the Globe reported in September.
The measure, unveiled two days before funding for federal agencies is set to lapse, was released by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, the Kentucky Republican, and his Senate counterpart Barbara Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat. The bill is scheduled for a vote before the GOP-led House Wednesday.