Clinton Administration Opposes Major Science Authorization Bill

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Publication date: 
12 October 1995

The White House has issued a statement indicating that President
Clinton may veto H.R. 2405, the Omnibus Civilian Science
Authorization Act of 1995, if it reaches his desk.  The House of
Representatives is considering the bill today.

In an October 11 statement, Vice President Gore outlines the
Administration's opposition to the legislation:

" the name of rigid ideology that ignores the realities of the
marketplace, Congress, through this bill, is taking direct aim at
federal investments in high-risk, long-term research and
development.  In particular, this bill effectively eliminates those
merit-based, cost-shared efforts such as the Commerce Department's
Advanced Technology Program and the Manufacturing Extension
Partnership that bridge the gap between basic research and
commercial development of products.  The bill also seeks to
eliminate or severely restrict the Energy Department's Cooperative
Research and Development Agreements, the Partnership for a New
Generation of Vehicles, and the Environmental Protection Agency's
successful Environmental Technologies Initiative.

"This could not come at a worse time.  Public and private sector
investment in R&D in the United States has been anemic for more
than a decade, while Japan already invests 35 percent more in
civilian technology than the United States on a per capita basis;
Germany invests 30 percent more.  Emerging economic powers --
China, India, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, also are aggressively
promoting investment in R&D and deployment of technology.

"This is a foolish choice that, as the President's balanced budget
demonstrates, does not have to be made for any budgetary reason."

In an accompanying "Statement of Administration Policy," the
following objections are noted:

"H.R. 2405 would cut authorized FY 1996 appropriations for the
Nation's civilian science and technology programs by more than $3
billion below current levels and about $3.3 billion below the
President's FY 1996 Budget.  The bill would effectively terminate
the Advanced Technology Program.... H.R. 2405 would prohibit the
use of funds for 42 programs, projects, and activities of the
Department of Energy, including science education activities,
laboratory technology transfer programs, and efforts to improve the
safety of Soviet-designed nuclear reactors...."

In detailing specific objections to various Titles of H.R. 2405,
the Administration states:

authorization of appropriations for the NSF of $3.13 billion is a
reduction of $234 million below the President's Budget request.
The reduction will mean that investments in basic research and
education will have to be curtailed." 

TITLE II - NASA (see FYI #140): "The FY 1996 authorization of
appropriations for NASA of $11.55 billion is a reduction of nearly
$600 million from the President's Budget request.  The reduction
includes $324 million for the Mission to Planet Earth program, a
reduction of 25 percent below the President's Budget; $35 million
for High Performance Computing and Communications, a 50 percent
cut; and termination of funding for the Clean Car Initiative and
the Space Infrared Telescope Facility.  Section 237 would impose
onerous reporting and certification requirements on the President
and the Government of the Russian Federation.  Section 249 would
deny NASA needed flexibility in transitioning toward the
privatization of the Space Shuttle.  Section 252 would interrupt
important NASA microgravity sciences research and put at risk
astronaut training until a commercial operator is certified and
ready to begin operations."

authorization of appropriations for energy research and development
activities of $4.25 billion is $1.2 billion below the President's
Budget, a reduction of more than 21 percent....  Section 309(a)
would require the Secretary of Energy to negotiate with a
consortium of foreign governments with specific instructions
concerning a specified international energy project, the Large
Hadron Collider.  This would interfere with the President's
constitutional authority to determine whether and when to enter
into negotiations, the content of negotiations, and to whom that
authority is delegated."

operations would be severely harmed by H.R.. 2405.  The bill would
cause unnecessary delays in modernization of the National Weather
Service and cutting edge research leading to economically
sustainable environmental policies.  The FY 1996 authorization of
appropriations for NOAA operations, research and facilities of
$1.69 billion is $405 million below the President's Budget, a
reduction of 19 percent.  The bill would reduce NOAA's satellite
funding, thereby increasing the risk of satellite failure and loss
of severe weather data.  Operations and research funding would be
reduced to a level that would cripple NOAA's ability to maintain
efforts to safeguard environmental health and safety."

TITLE VI - TECHNOLOGY (see FYI #143):  "The appropriation
authorization levels for the Commerce Department's civilian
technology programs are unacceptable.  These levels would gut
initiatives essential to U.S. competitiveness.  The FY 1996
authorization of appropriations for the entire National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST) of $338 million is $685 million
less than the President's Budget, a reduction of 67 percent.  Such
a drastic cut will undermine the NIST labs' ability to provide the
scientific and industrial community with the measurement base
essential to industrial competitiveness and public health and

The Statement of Administration Policy warns:

"If H.R. 2405 were presented to the President in its current form,
the Secretaries of Commerce and Energy, the EPA Administrator, the
Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the President's
Science Adviser would recommend that the bill be vetoed because of
its unacceptably deep reductions in, and terminations of, Federal
investments in science and technology."

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