NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, NASA:
NSF and NASA dodged reductions in their FY 1996 budgets - at least
temporarily - when House and Senate appropriators rejected House
sentiment to increase VA medical funding. After deciding that no
additional money was available the conference committee sent the
bill, H.R. 2099, back to the House floor basically unchanged.
Yesterday, the House approved the conference report by a vote of
227-190. Republican leaders won final passage after convincing
Republicans who earlier voted against the bill to change their
votes. This bill now heads to the Senate.
This bill seems far from final passage, since President Clinton has
indicated he will veto it because of cuts in several priority
programs. Short term funding for NSF runs out one week from today.
Yesterday, Congress completed its consideration of H.R. 2076, which
contains funding for the Commerce Department, as well as other
departments. The vote margin in the Senate was small, the bill
passing by 50-48.
Commerce faces the same budget problem as do NSF and NASA.
President Clinton warns that he will veto this bill because the
$27.3 billion appropriation is almost $4 billion short of his
request. Real problems exist because of philosophical differences
between the Administration and Congress over technology programs.
Short term funding also expires on December 15.
THE OVER-ALL BUDGET SITUATION:
Although Capitol Hill and the White House are geographically one
mile apart, they are many more miles apart on striking a final
budget deal. After vetoing the balanced budget legislation passed
by Congress, the President offered his own plan yesterday. The
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said this plan
"makes a high priority of investing in science and technology to
increase economic productivity and raise living standards and the
quality of American life. The plan calls for a balanced mix of
investments in basic research, applied research, and technology
development." OSTP says the Clinton plan, when compared to the
vetoed bill, would increase by unspecified amounts NSF, NASA basic
research, the Advanced Technology Program, and other science and
technology budgets. Republican leaders rejected this plan because
it is, they say, $400 billion short of what is needed to balance
the budget by 2002.
Capitol Hill is sending out mixed signals whether a budget
agreement must be struck before another short term funding bill is
passed. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) indicates the
House may be in session next week-end to pass a short term bill.
While statements by congressional leaders indicate some slight
movement, White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry said about
avoiding a shutdown: "It looks like we are in a really bad, bad
Over the next week a handful of key individuals on both ends of
Pennsylvania Avenue will be responsible for reaching agreement on
a seven-year balanced budget plan. This plan will include the
setting the broad parameters of federal science and technology
spending. Among these individuals are White House Chief of Staff
Leon Panetta, Office of Management and Budget Director Alice
Rivlin, Senators Robert Dole (R-KS), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Tom
Daschle (D-SD), and Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA), Richard
Armey (R-TX), Richard Gephardt (D-MO), John Kasich (R-OH), and Tom