Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, November 15, 2007

FASEB working for override of Bush veto

Bob Grant, Bush vetoes NIH budget increase, The Scientist, November 14, 2007.  You know the basic facts.  But here's what's new:

US President George W. Bush on Tuesday (Nov 13) vetoed a spending bill that aimed to boost federal funding for the National Institutes of Health. The bill, which was passed by Congress last week, sought to increase NIH funding by about $1 billion from a 2007 budget of about $29 billion to a 2008 budget of about $30 billion....

"We were hoping that [Bush's veto] wouldn't be the case," Carrie Wolinetz, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) spokesperson, told The Scientist. "But the threat had been there."

The NIH budget has been stagnant over the past few years, with government funding increasing by only about $1.4 billion between 2003 and 2006.

The vetoed bill also included a provision requiring NIH-funded researchers to post the full text of their research papers on the National Library of Medicine's publicly accessible PubMed Central website within a year of publication. This provision survived an attack by Republican Senator James Inhofe in October to remain intact in the final version of the bill sent to the president.

The bill cleared the House of Representatives only three votes shy of the two-thirds majority it would have needed to avoid Bush's veto. As H.R.3043 returns to Capitol Hill, where legislators will hold a veto override vote, Wolinetz said that FASEB will continue encouraging its 80,000-strong membership to urge their legislators to support the bill and overturn the presidential veto....

If Bush's veto of the bill is not overridden by Congress, [then the bill] will be renegotiated, and legislators will vote on the funding package again. Open access advocate Peter Suber said that even in the face of these potential renegotiations, the open access provision in the bill is likely to remain unchanged.  "If they have to revise the appropriation," he told The Scientist, "then I'm optimistic that the open access provision will survive intact [because it was approved by both houses of Congress]." ...

Comment.  What's new and welcome here is that FASEB is working for the override in order to save the billion dollar budget increase for the NIH.  FASEB has opposed a strong OA policy at the NIH in the past (see one, two, three), but clearly believes that it would be a price worth paying for the overall budget increase.