Senate Budget Resolution Abolishes DOC, OTA; Cuts NSF, NASA, DOE

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Publication date: 
10 May 1995
Number: 
66

"I'm thrilled...to present the first balanced budget in about 25
years."
      --Sen. Pete Domenici

Yesterday, Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) of the Senate Budget
Committee released his committee's version of a plan to balance the
federal budget by 2002.  The plan would make a total reduction of
$961 billion to projected spending over the next seven years.  In
announcing the resolution, Domenici remarked, "It responds to the
unequivocal expressed American public majority that wants a
balanced budget."

To achieve this reduction, the budget resolution includes the
"gradual" elimination of the Department of Commerce and many of its
functions; the abolishment of the Office of Technology Assessment;
and cuts below the current level of spending for programs under the
General Science, Space and Technology budget function.  This budget
function includes NASA, DOE's basic research programs, and NSF.
Under the Senate plan, NSF would experience a $100 million
reduction in research funding over the seven years, and be
instructed to "refocus on its original mission of basic scientific
research."  Academic infrastructure and major research equipment
would also be cut.  An expected $2.7 billion would be saved by NASA
management reforms, and the plan endorses the "President's freeze
and reduction in outyears in DOE research."

The gradual elimination of the Department of Commerce is expected
to "eventually" save over $1 billion per year.  Commerce activities
that would be relocated within the federal government include the
Patent and Trademark Office, the Bureau of the Census, the Bureau
of Economic Analysis, most of the Export Administration, and the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), although
NOAA funding would be reduced by five percent.  The section on
Commerce makes no mention of the National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST), but states, "the rest of the department's
activities in this function are not crucial responsibilities of the
federal government or else duplicate responsibilities that are
handled by other federal agencies."

Domenici's plan would achieve much of its savings by slowing the
growth of entitlement programs (including Medicare and Medicaid,
but not Social Security).  Defense spending would decline for a
period, then return to its current level, as proposed by the
Clinton Administration.  A seven-year total of $190 billion would
be saved from non-defense discretionary spending, which includes
General Science, Space and Technology.  For programs in this
category, the plan assumes a baseline of current (FY 1995) spending
for seven years, without considering such factors as inflation.
According to the Washington Post, if inflation over that period is
taken into account, the non-defense discretionary cuts would total
$446 billion.  The Senate Budget Committee does not provide any tax
cuts, but allows for future tax cuts once the Congressional Budget
Office has certified that the budget is firmly on a path toward
balance.

Later this week, the House Budget Committee, chaired by John Kasich
(R-OH), will release details of its version of the budget
resolution.  Future FYIs will provide more details on that plan.

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