When Congress got to work on 1993 spending bills, many on Capitol Hill predicted this was the year that lawmakers would finally get serious about knocking some expensive items out of the deficit-swamped budget. And the leading targets were two Big Science projects: the $8.2 billion superconducting supercollider and a $30 billion manned space station. But both threatened projects now appear safe, dashing hopes for progress in cutting the deficit anytime soon.
Foes of the supercollider scored an initial victory on June 17, when the House overwhelmingly voted to kill the project. Then, lobbyists pulled out the stops, promoting the $8.2 billion Texas particle accelerator as both a great scientific advance and a terrific jobs program. So, on Aug. 3, the Senate resoundingly reversed the House action, and the House is now expected to give in. Meanwhile, facing pressure from a broad coalition that included both Vice-President Dan Quayle and his would-be replacement, Senator Al Gore (D-Tenn.), the House lost its antiscientific-pork fervor and voted on July 29 to continue space-station funding. Budget-cutters promise to make another try next year, but odds are good that both programs will continue, which bodes ill for cuts in other big-ticket projects.