OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT ELIMINATED IN CONFERENCE: House
and Senate conferees on July 27 agreed to a compromise version of
H.R. 1854, the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill for fiscal
year 1996. The conference report, H. Rept. 104-212, would
terminate the OTA. (The House version of the bill would have
provided $15 million for OTA and incorporated it with the Library
of Congress's Congressional Research Service, while the Senate
version called for its termination. See FYIs #88, 104). The
conference report now goes to the House and Senate floors for
approval, but the whole bill must be considered on an up-or-down
vote. It is unlikely that appropriations for the entire
legislative branch will be derailed because of a single issue such
as OTA. The House floor is scheduled to begin consideration of the
conference report on August 4.
SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE PASSES ENERGY AND WATER BILL: H.R.
1905, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for FY
1996, was approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee on
July 27. The Senate's version of the bill would reduce funding for
fusion energy research and high energy physics below even the
House's recommendation (see FYI #100 for the House's actions.)
Consideration of the bill has begun on the Senate floor. Further
FYIs will contain selected portions of the Senate appropriations
committee report, S. Rept. 104-120.
VA/HUD/INDEPENDENT AGENCIES FUNDING BILL PASSES HOUSE FLOOR: Last
night, House members passed H.R. 2099, which makes appropriations
for veterans, housing, and a number of independent agencies,
including NSF and NASA. NSF programs survived with the House
Appropriations Committee's funding recommendations intact (see FYI
#101 for details of the Committee's recommendations.) The bill
would reduce NSF's budget by $200 million from the President's
request, to be taken from the Research and Related Activities
Account. Reports indicate that NASA funding, too, remains close to
what the House Appropriations Committee recommended (see FYI #102.)
The bill would fully fund the space station and shuttle programs
but reduce Mission to Planet Earth by over $300 million from the
request. The Cassini mission to Saturn would receive its full
request, while SOFIA would be partially funded and SIRTF would
apparently not receive funding.
HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE CONSIDERS NASA AUTHORIZATION: While the
appropriations (funding) bill for NASA passed the House floor with
a cut of more than $300 million for Mission to Planet Earth,
members of the House Science Committee voted on July 25 in a NASA
authorizing bill (H.R. 2043) to fund the program at a level nearer
to the President's request. The vote was on an amendment by Rep.
Jane Harman (D-CA) to shift $274 million to Mission to Planet Earth
from other NASA programs. An amendment by ranking member George
Brown (D-CA) to increase the total NASA budget failed. While the
authorizing bill can only set spending ceilings and provide
guidance to appropriators, Mission to Planet Earth can count both
authorizers and appropriators among its supporters in the Senate.
HOUSE AND SENATE CALENDARS: The House is scheduled to begin its
August recess at the end of this week; the Senate will remain in
session an additional week.