It's Not Over: House Rejects VA/HUD Conference Report

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Publication date: 
30 November 1995
Number: 
167

Yesterday, the House voted 216-208 to reject the conference
agreement on H.R. 2099, the VA/HUD/Independent Agencies
Appropriations bill that funds NSF and NASA for fiscal year 1996.
House and Senate conferees reached agreement several weeks ago, but
the House sent the bill back to conference, asking for more funds
to be shifted to veterans' programs.  The funds will probably be
taken from other areas within the bill.  Environmental and housing
programs have also taken significant cuts and, in floor debate,
Members spoke out in defense of these areas.  This may make NSF and
NASA the most vulnerable to further reductions.

The following amounts are what WERE provided for NASA and NSF in
the conference report (H. Rept. 104-353), but these amounts may be
changed in further negotiations.  Details of the NSF portion of the
rejected bill are provided in FYI #163; details relating to NASA
follow, along with selected quotes on both NASA and NSF:

NASA TOTAL

FY95 Approp.   Request   House     Senate    Conference 
(in billions)
$14.46b        14.26     13.67     13.80     13.82

HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT

FY95 Approp.   Request   House     Senate    Conference  
(in millions)
$5,514.9m      5,509.6   5,449.6   5,337.6   5,456.6

The total for Human Space Flight was reduced by $53 million from
the request "to reflect savings...from the closure of the Yellow
Creek Facility at Iuka, Mississippi."

SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS AND TECHNOLOGY

FY95 Approp.   Request   House     Senate    Conference 
(in millions)
$5,943.6m      6,006.9   5,588.0   5,960.7   5,845.9

The difference of $161 million between the budget request for
Science, Aeronautics and Technology and the conference amount
includes the following changes to the request:

A general reduction of $33 million;

A reduction of $13.7 million "for the Stratospheric Observatory for
Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).  The reduction will leave $35 million
in fiscal year 1996 to begin this program to replace the Kuiper
Airborne Observatory;"

An increase of $51.5 million "for the Gravity Probe-B program which
was not included in the budget request;"

A reduction of $5 million "for the Space Infrared Telescope
Facility, leaving $10 million to begin this effort.  NASA is
directed to provide no additional funding for this effort unless
specifically approved by the House and Senate Committees on
Appropriations;" 

An increase of $20 million "for initiation of the Solar-Terrestrial
Probes program.  The funding includes $15 million to begin the
TIMED mission and $5 million for design studies of the inner
magnetospheric imager;"

An increase of $3 million "for the university explorer program to
develop small, inexpensive spacecraft for astronomy and space
physics missions;"

A general reduction of $20 million for Life and Microgravity
Sciences, for a total of $484 million.  "The reduction is not to be
taken against any space station programs.  NASA should develop a
plan that accommodates the budget decrease while minimizing its
impact on the early scientific return from space station
operations...;"

An increase of $4.5 million "for space radiation research;"

Mission to Planet Earth would receive a total of $1,260 million
(compared to a request of $1,341.1 million and FY95 funding of
$1,340.1 million.)  Within the program, "the conference agreement
contains a reduction of $6 million for the Consortium for
International Earth Sciences Information Network....  A further
reduction of $75 million is to be distributed in accordance with
normal reprogramming guidelines...."  The report adds, "Any
restructuring of the Earth Observing System Data Information System
which may result from the recently issued National Academy of
Sciences report should...minimize counterproductive disruptions at
the Marshall Space Flight Center;"

A reduction of $16.5 million for Academic Programs, although "The
conferees urge NASA to consider funding the Discovery Center
project and the Rural Teacher Resource Center...."

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

The report contains the following recommendations regarding NSF:
"The conferees agree with the Senate report language calling for a
government-wide policy review of the U.S. presence in the Antarctic
to be conducted by the National Science and Technology Council....
The review should be completed and submitted to the Congress no
later than March 31, 1996."

"The conferees recognize the need for the National Science
Foundation to support modernizing the research infrastructure in
astronomy and other disciplines.  The conferees are equally
supportive of the flexible matching requirements employed by the
Foundation in its Academic Research Infrastructure program and
expect they will be continued in fiscal year 1996."

OUTLOOK

Keep in mind that all of the above numbers could be changed as
conferees rework the bill, and that the full House and Senate will
still have to approve the final product.  In addition, the White
House is seeking to have appropriators add $1.6 billion more to the
legislation before President Clinton will sign it.