One Month to Go: Status of Key Science Funding Bills

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Publication date: 
31 August 1995
Number: 
123

When Congress returns next week they will have less than one month
to complete work on thirteen appropriations bills for Fiscal Year
1996, which begins at midnight one month from today.  It is going
to be an impossible workload, since in addition to these bills,
Congress will be considering changes to tax, Medicare and Medicaid,
and welfare programs.  The following is the current status of key
science appropriations (funding) bills tracked by FYI:

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE:  H.R. 2076, the Commerce, Justice, State
Appropriations Bill for FY 1996, has passed the House, and is
awaiting action in the Senate.  Under this bill, the NIST
appropriation for Scientific and Technical Research and Services is
$263.0 million, which is $47.7 million below the administration's
request.  No funding was provided for the Advanced Technology
Program (ATP), although Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program
funding was provided.  Possibly overriding this bill will be moves
made during the budget reconciliation process to dismantle the
Department of Commerce.  President Clinton has indicated that he
will veto any bill dismantling the Department; also note that the
ATP Program is a high priority of the administration.  For
additional details, see FYIs #103 and 108.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY:  Both the House and Senate have passed
differing versions of H.R. 1905, the Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Bill for FY 1996.  House and Senate conferees will
struggle over bridging a $1.5 billion, or approximately a 10%,
difference in the total DOE appropriation levels between the two
bills (with the Senate bill containing the higher budget.)  Both
versions agree on the Nuclear Physics appropriation and the Basic
Energy Sciences appropriation, but differ over funding levels for
the High Energy Physics appropriation (with the House figure
higher.)  Differences in the Fusion Energy appropriation levels are
much smaller; both are more than 38% below the current budget.  It
is uncertain if the President will veto this bill.  See FYIs #110,
111, and 112 for additional details.

NASA: H.R. 2099, the VA, HUD and Independent Agencies
Appropriations Bill for FY 1996 was passed by the House on July 31,
and is awaiting action in the Senate.  The House version of this
bill provides $13.67 billion for NASA; the administration request
was $14.26 billion.  The space station is fully funded; space
science was increased over the request for a total of $1.98
billion.  Because of its EPA language, the President has promised
to veto this bill, if not changed, "the minute this polluter's
protection act hits my desk."  See FYIs #109 and 113 for additional
details. 

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION:  NSF funding is also provided by H.R.
2099.  The House's version of this bill provides $3.16 billion for
NSF, compared to a request of $3.36 billion.  Research and Related
Activities funding was set at $2.25 billion; the request was $2.45
billion.  Education and Human Resources, Academic Research
Infrastructure, and Major Research Equipment budgets were provided
at the requested levels.  Note the above regarding a possible
presidential veto of this legislation.  See FYIs #101, 109, and 113
for additional details.

OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT:  Both the House and Senate have
passed their versions of H.R. 1854, the Legislative Branch
Appropriations Bill for FY 1996.  A conference committee has
arrived at final language which must be approved by an up-or-down
vote in each chamber before it is sent to the President.  This
conference language terminates the Office of Technology Assessment.
It is not known what action the President will take regarding this
legislation.  See FYIs #104 and 109 for additional details.

The Senate reconvenes on September 5 and the House the following
day.  Fiscal Year 1996 begins on October 1, with many inside and
outside the government predicting numerous "train wrecks" when
President Clinton vetoes appropriations bills.  It is impossible to
predict when, and in what form, final appropriations bills will be
passed.  Note that data about these and other science funding bills
is now available on a WWW site maintained by the American
Association for the Advancement of Science (http://www.aaas.org).

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