House Passes Economic Stimulus Bill; Senate Readies Bill's Consideration

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Publication date: 
29 January 2009

Last night, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by a largely party line vote of 244-188.  Commenting on the bill's passage, House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) explained, "The investments in science and technology in the recovery package are timely and targeted.  They will create high-quality jobs in the short term while making strides to strengthen American competitiveness over the long-term, including improving access to clean, affordable energy.  We need to create jobs now, certainly, but if we do not address one of the roots of the economic collapse - our competitiveness - we could create jobs now, only to lose them in the future to foreign competition."  See FYI #4  for a selected summary of H.R 1's science and technology provisions.

Also yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee released a 176-page report accompanying its portion of the Senate version of the bill.  Commenting on S.1, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) stated: “We have no interest in growing the federal bureaucracy, but rather we are focused on jump-starting necessary spending projects . . . that will create jobs as soon as possible, and that will help get this country back on track.  We are going to create jobs now, but at the same time, we are going to improve our basic infrastructure so we will be better positioned for strong economic growth in the future.”

There is lengthy report language regarding various science and technology programs in Senate Report 111-3.  The following are quotations from this report on selected Department of Energy, NASA, National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Standards and Technology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation,  and U.S. Geological Survey  programs.  For the entire report (including language on energy R&D and education programs not included below) see the committe's site under Latest News for January 28.

Department of Energy


"The Committee provides $430,000,000 for the Science Program.  Of the total, $330,000,000 is for laboratory infrastructure and construction, and $100,000,000 is for advanced computer research and development."

National Nuclear Security Administration - Weapons Activities:

"The Committee provides $1,000,000,000, of which $900,000,000 is to be applied to address maintenance and general plant project backlogs, other construction activities, and various energy projects throughout the weapons complex. The remaining $100,000,000 is for advanced computer research and development."


National Aeronautics and Space Administration

"The Committee recommends a total of $1,502,000,000 for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA]. NASA is one of the Nation’s premier innovation agencies. Funding recommended for NASA is estimated to create over 10,000 jobs, including 8,000 high-tech jobs."

"NASA is directed to report to the Committees on Appropriations with the intended allocation of these funds no later than 60 days after enactment of this act."


"The Committee recommends $500,000,000 for NASA science.  Funding is recommended for critical Earth science missions, including to accelerate the highest priority Earth science missions as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. These critical missions, each comprised of scientific sensors on free-flying spacecraft, will provide critical data about the Earth’s resources and climate, including melting ice and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."


"The Committee recommends $250,000,000 for high-priority aeronautics activities, which are critical to U.S. competitiveness. Funding is recommended for research and testing of environmentally responsible aircraft to reduce emissions and pollutants from aircraft."


"The Committee recommends $500,000,000 for exploration. Funding is recommended to shorten the gap in time that the Nation does not have a U.S. vehicle to access space after the Space Shuttle is retired in 2010."

Cross Agency Support:

"The Committee recommends $250,000,000 for high-priority hurricane repair and mitigation, and facility repair projects. Funding is recommended to repair NASA facilities damaged by Hurricane Ike and to reduce the significant backlog of maintenance and repair projects at NASA facilities nationwide. Within the funds provided, $70,000,000 is to improve NASA’s supercomputing capabilities."


National Institutes of Health

National Center for Research Resources:

"The Committee recommends an additional $300,000,000 for the National Center for Research Resources for shared instrumentation and capital research equipment."

Office of the Director:

"The Committee recommends an additional $2,700,000,000 for the Office of the Director, half of which will be transferred to the Institutes and Centers. The Committee strongly urges that, to the extent possible, the funds should be used for purposes that can be completed within 2 years. In particular, the Committee recommends placing a priority on: short-term new grants that focus on specific scientific challenges; new research that expands the scope of ongoing projects; research on public health priorities such as influenza, tuberculosis and malaria; and stem cell research."

Buildings and Facilities:

"The Committee recommends an additional $500,000,000 for constructing, improving and repairing National Institutes of Health buildings and facilities."


National Institute of Standards and Technology

"The Committee recommends a total of $575,000,000 for the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST]. This funding is critical to support U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness, and is expected to create an estimated 7,000 jobs. NIST is directed to provide a spend plan no later than 60 days after enactment of this act detailing the proposed use of these funds."

Scientific and Technical Research and Services (Including Transfer of Funds):

"The Committee recommends $218,000,000 for NIST to increase competitive grants for external partners to perform research and  measurements in support of NIST’s mission. These activities include: strengthen the information technology infrastructure at NIST sites; and provide for additional NIST research fellowships to bring scientists and engineers to NIST both to perform NIST research and measurements and to provide advanced training for future generations of scientists and engineers. Within these funds, NIST shall also provide substantial funding for advanced research and measurement equipment and supplies.

"In addition, $20,000,000 is provided by transfer from the Health Information Technology [IT] initiative within this act. For Health IT activities, NIST is directed to create and test standards related to health security and interoperability in conjunction with the partners at the Department of Health and Human Services."

Construction of Research Facilities:

"The Committee recommends $357,000,000 for NIST for the renovation and maintenance of existing NIST facilities and construction.

"The Committee’s recommendation provides $302,000,000 for NIST to tackle a backlog of much-needed improvements and renovations to: reduce the backlog of major repairs; purchase high-efficiency pumps for neutron research; support facility construction at existing joint institutes; renovate general purpose labs; purchase advanced lab equipment; install grid-interconnected solar power systems; support net zero energy building improvements; and improve advanced robotics testing facilities.

"Renovations shall emphasis the use of green technologies and maximize long-term energy  and water savings.  The Committee’s recommendation also provides $55,000,000 for NIST to construct new critical laboratories at its primary facilities to improve safety and to allow the agency to stay up-to-date with industry, and to renovate and construct measurement broadcast stations."


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

"The Committee recommends a total of $1,222,000,000 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA]. This funding is essential for improving environmental research activities and infrastructure, and is expected to create an estimated 6,000  jobs within the maritime, marine technology, and environmental research communities. NOAA is directed to provide a spend plan no later than 60 days after enactment of this act detailing the proposed   use of these funds." 

Operations, Research and Facilities:

"The Committee recommends a total of $427,000,000 to: expand habitat restoration activities; address the hydrographic survey  backlog; and accelerate vessel maintenance, which includes technology improvements, major repair periods, meet safe manning requirements, and replace hydrographic survey launches."

Procurement, Acquisition and Construction:

"The Committee recommends a total of $795,000,000 to construct  and repair NOAA facilities and equipment. Funds are provided to: implement the fleet modernization plan to address ship maintenance and new construction for the NOAA fleet; accelerate construction of local Weather Forecast Offices, Critical Weather Observing Systems, weather radars and dual polarization systems throughout the country; accelerate construction at regional facilities and laboratories currently under construction; and construct vessels for marine conservation. Within these funds, $70,000,000 is directed to specifically support supercomputing activities, especially as they relate to climate research."

National Science Foundation

"The Committee recommends a total of $1,402,000,000 for the National Science Foundation [NSF]. This funding is critical to support  valuable investments for America’s competitiveness in research and technology, and is expected to create an estimated 25,000 jobs. NSF is directed to provide a spend plan no later than 60 days after enactment of this act detailing the proposed use of these funds."

Research and Related Activities:

"The Committee recommends $1,200,000,000 for Research and Related Activities which is intended to directly impact the research community and engage a workforce of scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians, which will enhance and support the Nation’s scientific innovation and economic competitiveness. NSF shall use these funds to support activities within all research disciplines.

"The Foundation is encouraged to renovate and maintain existing NSF facilities, including the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System vessels and associated property. NSF shall also include $50,000,000 for supporting advancements in supercomputer technology.

"The Committee recommendation includes $200,000,000 for the Major Research Instrumentation [MRI] Program, including opportunities for 'mid-scale' instrumentation whose capital costs are greater than $2,000,0000. NSF shall obligate up to $6,000,000 for maximum awards as authorized by section 7036(a) of Public Law 110–69. MRI increases access to shared scientific and engineering instruments for research and research training in our Nation’s research institutions. This program especially seeks to expand the scope of research and research training in science and engineering  by providing shared instrumentation that fosters the integration of research and education in research-intensive learning environments.  Given the current economic climate, the Director is encouraged to explore cost-sharing exceptions for MRI opportunities as authorized in section 7036(c)(2)(A) of Public Law 110–69."

Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction:

"The Committee recommends $150,000,000 to support the acquisition, construction, and commissioning of approved major research facilities and equipment that provide unique capabilities at the frontiers of science and engineering."

Education and Human Resources:

"The Committee recommends $50,000,000 to support and improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM] education opportunities. Creating a strong science and engineering workforce for the future is essential to maintaining the Nation’s competitive edge. NSF shall provide funding for course, curriculum, and laboratory improvement which will improve the quality of STEM education for all undergraduate students.

"The Committee recommendation provides $15,000,000 for Professional Master’s Science Programs throughout the country as authorized by section 7034 of Public Law 110–69. These graduate programs, which exist through partnerships between universities and industry, allow students to receive advanced degrees in STEM-related fields while simultaneously providing coursework in law, communications, policy and other workplace skills preparing students with careers in business, government, and nonprofit organizations."

   U.S. Geological Survey

"The Committee has provided $135,000,000 for surveys, investigations and research and recommends that the funds be allocated as follows: $30,000,000 for deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects for buildings and grounds; and $20,000,000 for deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects for cableways, groundwater wells, and surface water stations, and $85,000,000 for other instructure upgrades, including research equipment."

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