Not Out of the Woods: NSF and NASA Funding Bill Will be Vetoed

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Publication date: 
21 November 1995

In a two-page Statement of Administration Policy sent to Congress
yesterday, the Office of Management and Budget warned Congress that
the VA/HUD appropriations bill funding NASA and the National
Science Foundation is in trouble.  "The President will veto this
bill, if presented to him in its current form," the statement

Before leaving on its one-week Thanksgiving recess, Congress passed
and the President then signed an interim bill providing money to
keep various government programs running through December 15,
including NASA and NSF.  Both agencies have 25 days of breathing
room while Congress and the Administration attempt to settle
differences in the VA/HUD bill.

The Statement of Administration Policy outlines significant
objections to the VA/HUD bill (H.R. 2099) now working its way
through Congress.  None involve NSF or NASA.  Among these
objections: "The bill provides insufficient funds to support the
important activities covered by this bill.  It would threaten
public health and the environment, end programs that are helping
communities help themselves, close the door on college for
thousands of young people, and leave veterans seeking medical care
with fewer treatment options."

The President's threatened veto is based on both policy and budget
differences.  The Statement outlines objections to the zeroing out
of the national service program, declaring, "The President will not
sign any version of this appropriations bill that does not restore
funds for this vital program."  Also cited are environmental
enforcement restrictions.  Receiving the most attention in the
Statement are budget cuts in the bill.  EPA funding is cut 22%
below the request.  Funding was zeroed out for the Community
Development Financial Institutions program and some housing
programs.  Very significantly, the Administration states that $397
million was cut from the veterans' medical care request, making it
less likely that any shifting of money from within the bill will
come from the VA budget.  One report indicates that around $2
billion will have to be added to the over-all bill to cover the
deficiencies the Administration has identified in this $80.6
billion bill.

No one can predict with any certainty how this will turn out.  If
the Administration insists on additional money for the deficient
programs it can come from either outside or inside the bill.  The
defense appropriations bill may be vetoed because it contains $7
billion more than requested.  If Congress trims DOD funding, it
could free up money to be used in the VA/HUD and other
appropriations bills not yet signed, among them the
Commerce-State-Justice bill and the Labor-HHS bill, where other
deep cuts have been made.  If Congress refuses to make the defense
cuts, if may have to redistribute funding in the current version of
the VA/HUD bill.  With VA, HUD, and EPA budgets identified by the
Administration as already being too low, the only remaining sources
of significant funding are the NASA and the NSF budgets.

Come December 15, money may again run out for NASA and the NSF if
this appropriations bill remains unsigned, and if Congress and the
Administration deadlock over a short term funding bill as they did
last week.  Perhaps the strongest reason for optimism over an
eventual settlement is the fact that December 15 is only ten days
short of Christmas -- with Washington, D.C. being a long distance
from many congressional districts.

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