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“As a politician,” George E. Brown, Jr., rather understatedly told the American Association for the Advancement of Science on February 15, “I must tell you that unlimited federal funding for basic research is no longer viewed by the U.S. Congress as a birthright of the scientific community.” In his plenary address to the association's annual meeting, the new chairman of the House Science Committee repeatedly warned scientists and engineers not to be divisive over tight research budgets. The California Democrat also called for a unified vision of scientific and technological progress, built upon better communication between scientists, engineers, and Congress.

The “good news,” Brown said, is that even in a tough budget year, President George Bush has asked for substantial hikes for many research-funding agencies. However, Brown added, “There will not be huge increases for the funding of basic research over the next 3–5 years,” and even Bush's current requests are not sacrosanct. Ticking off various programs that have been slashed, Brown asked, “Who do you think they're going to set their hungry eyes on?”