The Ranking Minority Member of the House Science Committee, George
Brown (D-CA), has harshly criticized the House Budget Committee's
budget resolution. Calling it "a retreat from the federal
government's historical role as a driver in research and
development," Brown said, "the Kasich-Walker budget is the
equivalent of unilateral disarmament in the war to maintain the
American standard of living."
Brown calculates that "federal support for civilian research and
development" under the committee's jurisdiction will decline about
24% from the $27.2 billion appropriated this year to $20.6 billion
in FY 2000. Adjusting the Republican figure for inflation of 3%
per year from 1995 to 2000 results in a decline of 35%.
The effects of the budget resolution on the committee's four
subcommittee allocations would vary greatly (see FYI #8, 9 for
jurisdictions), and are the first indication of Republican research
priorities. Brown's figures show that the Basic Research
Subcommittee allocation would increase $6 million from $3,325
million (actual FY 1995) to $3,331 million (FY 2000.) The
allocation for the Space Subcommittee would decline $2,892 million,
or 20%, from $14,470 million to $11,578 million. The Energy and
Environment Subcommittee allocation would decline $2,706 million,
or 34%, from $8,018 million to $5,312 million. The Technology
Subcommittee allocation would decline $1,039 million, or 73%, from
$1,421 million to $382 million. None of these figures allow for
The House and Senate budget resolutions provide the spending and
taxing targets for congressional committees. The House and Senate
are expected to vote on their budget resolutions next week, and
congressional leaders express confidence that they will pass.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) predicts that these versions
will be brought into alignment by Memorial Day. The House will
consider all thirteen appropriations bills between June 5 and July
Somewhat surprisingly, House Science Committee Chairman Robert
Walker (R-PA) now says that he will leave it to the appropriations
committees to reconfigure DOE operations if the department is
abolished. "We have not decided on a structure...we're going to
let the appropriating committees rationalize all of this," he said.
Walker's concept of a Department of Science is apparently on the
back burner. House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich (R-OH)
rejected this idea, Walker saying "we wanted to be in the business
of eliminating departments, not creating them."
There are clear signs of a changed climate on the science
committee. Brown, according to a statement released today by
Walker's staff, has put Walker "on notice" that next week's mark-up
of a space station authorization bill might not have the support of
key committee Democrats. The bill has been pulled, with the
committee statement noting, "Indications are that some Democrats
are uncomfortable with the balanced budget plan put forth by the
Republicans, and are unwilling to cooperate with programs
predicated on that budget."