House Science Subcommittee Mark-Up of DOE Authorization Bill

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Publication date: 
12 June 1995
Number: 
79

What was scheduled to take only a hour or two last Thursday morning
ended up taking the entire day as the House Subcommittee on Energy
and Environment completed its work on the Department of Energy
Civilian Research and Development Act of 1995.  Rep. Dana
Rohrabacher (R-CA), sitting in the chairman's seat for the first
time, guided this mark up in a firm but friendly manner that was
characterized by renewed strains of bipartisanism.

While the mark up proceeded amicably, its purpose was serious, as
the subcommittee cut $1.361 billion from DOE's authorization for FY
1996 (see FYI #78 for an explanation of how this bill relates to
actual spending.)  Rohrabacher put his colleagues on notice that he
would hold them to the subcommittee's budget cap that was drawn
from the House Budget Resolution.  He said that program
authorization levels in the bill could be adjusted by a majority
vote of the subcommittee, as long as the cap was not breached.
"Today we will set an example for every authorizing committee to
follow," Rohrabacher said.  This sentiment was echoed by House
Science Committee Chairman Robert Walker (R-PA) who declared that
the draft bill would meet "the test of budget relevancy," by the
House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee,
which marks up its bill tomorrow.

With that said, the subcommittee moved on to its consideration of
a series of amendments.  The first amendment, offered by Rep. Mike
Doyle (D-PA) would have increased authorization levels on such
programs as energy conservation, renewable, and fossil R&D, as well
as some physics programs.  Doyle based these higher authorization
figures on a higher subcommittee cap (made possible, he said, by
what he predicted would be the House's eventual dropping of
proposed tax cuts.)  Rohrabacher declared Doyle's figures "smoke
and mirrors" that "just don't add up."  This amendment was roundly
defeated.

Other defeated amendments included one to increase solar and
renewable spending at the expense of fossil fuel research, another
to delete spending on the Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor, and
one to retain DOE's energy efficiency standards program.  The
subcommittee agreed to an amendment to provide funding for the
AP600 light water reactor and another clarifying language for
petroleum research.  Other amendments were withdrawn from
consideration.

Toward the end of the hearing, Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), a physicist
by training, offered an amendment to provide an additional $28
million for university based research in the nuclear physics
program.  Ehlers said that this program had been zeroed out, and
spoke highly of this research, saying that it yielded more return
than any other DOE program.  Chairman Rohrabacher agreed with
Ehlers' position, and then called for a voice vote.  Rohrabacher
determined that Ehlers' amendment had carried.  A subcommittee
member called for a roll call vote, which was tied at 12/12; the
result being that the amendment failed.