House Science Committee Responds to Administration's FY 2009 S&T Request

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Publication date: 
5 March 2008

One of the first steps in the annual budget cycle is the preparation of formal letters or reports from authorizing committees to the Budget Committees of the House and Senate.  These documents, known as the "Views and Estimates," are among the first formal documents responding to an Administration's budget request.  The Budget Committees use these documents to prepare an overall spending plan.       

The House Science and Technology Committee's 2009 "Views and Estimates," including additional Members' statements, is 52-pages long, and can be viewed at     The Committee's "Views and Estimates" were only signed by the Majority Members (Democrats) of the committee; the Minority (Republicans) filed their own version.  Categorized selections from each follow, with the views of Democratic Members followed by those of Republican Members to allow a direct comparison of the respective language.

Unavoidably, this FYI is quite lengthy.  Readers are urged to search by the following headings: Overall, DOE Office of Science, DOE: Nuclear Energy, DOE: ARPA-E, National Science Foundation, NASA and National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Democratic members

"the Committee encourages the Budget Committee to use as guidelines the funding levels included in two major authorizing bills signed into law last year -- the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69) and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140)."

"The FY2009 budget request proposes funding increases for physical sciences research programs as part of the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), many of which are consistent with increases authorized in COMPETES. However, the Administration’s budget ignores or neglects several core areas of COMPETES, including math and science education activities at NSF, manufacturing and technology stimulus programs at NIST, and important energy programs including ARPA-E. The Committee asks the Budget Committee to reject these cuts proposed by the Administration and include funding for these important COMPETES programs."

Republican members

"We applaud the President for putting forward a budget that reduces the deficit and keeps America on track to double the funding for physical sciences and engineering at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Office of Science at the Department of Energy (DOE). Building on the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) and Republican-led efforts in the last Congress, this Committee stepped up to the plate and enacted the America COMPETES Act (COMPETES) (P.L. 110-69) last year, authorizing increased levels of funding for these agencies. We were disappointed to see that the Appropriators did not adequately fund these agencies in the FY08 Omnibus (P.L. 110-161). The funding they provided was not only 12 percent below the level that we authorized in COMPETES, it was 6 percent below the President's FY08 budget request levels. This is simply unacceptable, and a situation we do not want to see again."

Department of Energy Office of Science

Democratic members

"Basic research plays a critical role in enhancing our nation’s competitiveness, and the Committee believes the FY2009 budget for the DOE Office of Science of $4.7 billion is a step forward in addressing our near- and long-term needs. The request represents an increase of approximately $700 million or 18 percent over the appropriated FY2008 level."

"The Committee fully supports a restoration of funding for the U.S. contribution to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) fusion project and research towards a proposed International Linear Collider (ILC). The Committee recognizes that the international agreement approved by Congress for ITER went into force in October 2007, and withdrawal of the U.S. from ITER in violation of this agreement would result in a penalty of €500 million (approximately $750 million). In addition, the credibility of the United States as a reliable partner in large international research projects will be significantly undermined if corrective actions are not taken.

"The Committee recognizes that while no formal international agreement currently exists for the ILC, research towards this project is closely coordinated among the U.S., Europe, and Asia. The Committee also supports the High Energy Physics program moving forward with the planned neutrino experiment at Fermilab and the University of Minnesota until a final decision on the level of U.S. participation in the ILC is made.

"The Committee supports the FY2009 request for the Basic Energy Sciences program of $298 million above the FY2008 enacted level. The Committee is pleased that the Basic Energy Sciences program is following up on its recent applications-driven workshops with specific research programs acting on their consolidated recommendations, including programs in electrical energy storage, carbon sequestration, and solar energy.

"In addition, the Committee supports the Administration’s request for increases in the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) and the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) programs. The proposed increase for the ASCR program increase is five percent over the FY2008 enacted levels. This program supports a wide variety of research activities throughout the Department as well as research activities of other Federal agencies, in the extramural research community, and in the private sector. The requested increase of 4 percent over FY2008 enacted levels for BER will enable the Department to further fund the three Bioenergy Research Centers designated in 2007, and in particular, to accelerate research on cellulosic biomass energy conversion and other improvements in bioenergy production. The Committee supports this increase."

Republican members

"We are pleased to see the Office of Science's budget request at an increase of $700 million over the appropriated FY08 level. We were very disappointed that the Appropriators cut funding to many important programs at the Office of Science in the FY08 Omnibus and hope that the Budget Committee will set full funding levels for these programs in FY09. Programs such as High Energy Physics and projects such as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) cannot withstand another round of cut or zeroed out budgets, respectively, without having a detrimental effect on high energy physics and fusion research in the United States and on the reputation of our country as a reliable international partner in scientific research."

Department of Energy: Nuclear Energy

Democratic Members (only)

"The Administration request for Nuclear Energy (NE) is $629.7 for research and development with nearly half of that request dedicated to the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative which is focused on implementing the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). For NE’s Research and Development programs, this represents approximately $191.7 million above the FY2008 enacted funding level ($438 million).

"The United States has been conducting research on the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel since 2002 under the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI). In 2006, the Administration announced a change in this program when it unveiled GNEP as its plan forward to develop advanced, proliferation-resistant nuclear fuel cycle technologies that would maximize the energy extracted from nuclear fuels and minimize nuclear waste.  The Committee notes that GNEP has drawn criticism based on the substantial costs estimated for implementing the program and the technical challenges associated with developing, demonstrating and deploying advanced technologies for recycling spent nuclear fuel that do not separate plutonium. Last fall, the National Academies issued a report expressing similar concerns. The FY2009 request is $301.5 million, substantially higher than the FY2008 enacted funding for GNEP of $181 million. The Committee remains concerned about financial and technical difficulties with implementing GNEP as currently proposed by the Administration, but finds general research activities on a           closed nuclear fuel cycle to be worthwhile.

"Although the FY2009 budget request eliminates funding for the University Reactor Infrastructure and Education Assistance program, it does include directions to Nuclear Energy, through its Energy Research Initiative process, to designate at least 20 percent of the R&D appropriated funds for purposes of supporting R&D activities at university research institutions through competitive awards focused on advancing nuclear energy technology. While the Committee is supportive of this effort to help universities expand their R&D capabilities and strengthen the nuclear science programs at institutions of higher education, the Administration’s proposal is not an adequate replacement for the University Reactor Infrastructure and Education Assistance program."

Department of Energy: ARPA-E

Democratic Members

"On August 9, 2007 the President signed into law the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69) which authorized the establishment of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA-E. Like other provisions in the COMPETES Act, this followed on the direct recommendation of the National Academies’ report Rising Above the Gathering Storm which called for an ARPA-E to fill the gap in the existing energy programs by performing high-risk, high-reward R&D in collaboration with the university and private sector. ARPA-E is intended to be unique not only in the type of research it conducts, but also in how it conducts that research.

"The COMPETES Act calls for initial year funding of $300 million, with such sums thereafter. The Gathering Storm report and other legislative proposals in Congress called for subsequent years to be funded at levels exceeding $1 billion. However, the Administration has failed to request funding for this critical program. The establishment of ARPA-E is a priority for the Committee, and we strongly encourage funding for the initial year of this program at $300 million, with expectations that full operations will eventually exceed $1 billion."

Republican members

"A majority of us are in disagreement with the majority views on the establishment of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E). We do not feel that creating a new agency to do work that is currently being done at the Department of Energy is a justified use of the limited funds available to the department and we support the department's decision to not establish ARPA- E, but to engage in ARPA -E-type projects within the current DOE structure."

National Science Foundation

Democratic Members

"The President’s FY2009 budget request would provide $6.854 billion for NSF, which is $822 million, or 13.6 percent above the FY2008 appropriations level and $472 million, or 6.4 percent below the FY2009 authorization level. While providing robust growth for the NSF research accounts, the President’s budget proposal provides only a 4.6 percent increase for NSF’s K-12 STEM education programs, which falls far short of providing the funding called for in COMPETES. In particular, the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program would receive $103 million less than the authorized amount and the Math and Science Partnerships, which is the principal program for teacher professional development of current STEM teachers, would receive $60 million less than authorized.

"The Committee recommends that the NSF Education and Human Resources Directorate receive $995 million for FY2009, which is the authorized level and is $205 million above the request. The additional funding would be used to fully fund the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, which will provide scholarships for STEM majors who take tailored courses needed to become certified as teachers and agree to teach for two years for each year of scholarship support, and to fully fund the Math and Science Partnerships. In addition, the increase will support COMPETES initiatives to increase the number of undergraduate degrees in STEM fields and the number of graduate STEM degrees in emerging, interdisciplinary fields that are important for innovation and economic development. The Committee recommends that this $205 million be added to the President’s request for NSF, thereby providing NSF with total funding of $7.059 billion for FY2009."

Republican members

"In keeping with the plan outlined in the ACI to double funding for research at NSF over the next 10 years, the FY09 budget request for NSF is $6.9 billion, an increase of 13.6 percent, or $822 million over the FY08 Omnibus. We are pleased to see the increases spread across all of the research fields NSF supports.

"Within the Education and Human Resources account, we agree with the majority that the Robert Noyce Scholarship program, which we expanded in COMPETES, and the Math and Science Partnership program are not adequately funded in the FY09 request. However, we maintain that many of the FY09 authorized amounts remain too high and encourage the Budget Committee to consider setting increased funding levels for these programs to meet the goals in COMPETES, but in a fiscally responsible manner.

"While COMPETES accelerates the path of doubling funding for NSF over a 7-year period, most of our Members remain committed to the 10-year doubling path established in the House-passed version of COMPETES and supported by the President."

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Democratic Members

"NASA’s FY2009 budget request is $17.6 billion, approximately $400 million less than the amount stipulated for FY2009 in the FY2005 five-year budget plan that accompanied the President’s Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). That shortfall replicates the practice in each of the previous two years -- in FY2007 the Administration’s request was $1.02 billion less than pledged in the President’s VSE five year budget plan; in FY2008, the request was $690 million less. The Committee is very concerned about the cumulative effects of these budgetary shortfalls, which, coupled with the Office of Management and Budget’s under-budgeting for the costs of Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS) in that same five-year budget plan, have created strains and stresses that are visible in all of the agency’s programs.

"The Committee notes with concern that in spite of the fact that the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-155) directs NASA to launch the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) 'as close to 2010 as possible', the FY2009 budget request not only doesn’t provide any additional funding to move the CEV operational date closer to 2010, it only provides funding sufficient to deliver the CEV in 2015 – a year later than the date directed by the President in his 2004 Vision for Space Exploration. In addition, the FY2009 budget request would do nothing to reverse cuts to much of the rest of the Exploration Initiative, including cuts to exploration-related technology R&D and ISS research funding.  Moreover, all of NASA’s human space flight programs face funding challenges in the out-years of the budget request, including that no funding has been identified for post-2010 Shuttle transition and retirement costs; reserves in the ISS and Constellation programs remain extremely low or negative; and funding proposed for post-Shuttle ISS crew and cargo support is so reduced that even NASA itself thinks it is likely to prove inadequate."

"The Committee also is aware that NASA’s science programs are facing significant stresses. Roughly $4 billion was removed from the five-year budget plan for NASA’s science programs over the last three years, resulting in significant disruptions. The FY2009 budget request and its five-year run-out requests funds for a number of new space and Earth science initiatives, the majority of which will cost over $500 million, and several of which will have costs that exceed several billion dollars. While the Committee is pleased that the FY2009 budget request will initiate two of the missions recommended in the National Academy of Sciences decadal strategy for Earth science research and applications, and includes several new research projects within the science account, the Committee is very concerned that no new funding was included in NASA’s science account to pay for these additional programs. Instead, funds are simply shifted among the various parts of the science account -- an approach that runs a high risk of proving unsustainable.

"The Committee believes that NASA’s space and aeronautics programs represent some of the nation’s most challenging and exciting R&D initiatives. As such, they can inspire our young people, advance our understanding of the universe as well as of our home planet Earth, and they can generate technological advances that will benefit both our quality of life and our economic competitiveness. That will only be possible with a balanced NASA program of science, aeronautics, and human space flight and exploration. If NASA is to be successful in carrying out the tasks it has been given by the White House and Congress, it is going to need resources commensurate with those tasks. Thus, the Committee believes that NASA should receive additional funding in FY2009 above the level contained in the President’s FY2009 budget request."

Republican members

"The Committee has sought to enable NASA to succeed as a multi-mission agency in carrying out the goals expressed in the President's vision for space exploration and the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-155). The Committee has remained supportive in the ensuing years, but has grown increasingly concerned as NASA's requests have repeatedly been below spending profiles originally proposed when the vision was introduced. As a result, we share many of the views expressed by the majority.

"We are concerned that the current FY09 budget request of $17.6 billion fails to even keep pace with inflation and further jeopardizes NASA's ability to successfully accomplish its portfolio of missions. We are especially concerned about the threat this request poses to manned spaceflight capabilities. From FY05 thru FY 10, NASA estimates that the agency will be forced to absorb $2.7 billion in costs for returning the Space Shuttle to flight following the Columbia accident, and an additional $2.4 billion of previously unanticipated costs to retire the Space Shuttle: This has contributed to delays in the development of a Shuttle replacement as well as cuts in important exploration-related research to offset these costs.           "According to the FY09 budget request, March 2015 is the earliest date NASA has committed for delivery of the Crew Exploration Vehicle and its Ares 1 launcher. This date has slipped as a result of past under-funding. We are very concerned that once the Shuttle is retired in 2010, the United States will find itself entirely reliant on other nations for as long as five years, to access our multi-billion dollar Space Station. Furthermore, NASA is now faced with the task of asking Congress for further exceptions from the Iran, North Korea and Syria Non-Proliferation Act, so it can continue to purchase Russian cargo and Soyuz flights at a cost of nearly $2 billion for hardware and services. We would rather see these funds used to purchase similar capabilities from American aerospace companies. Failure to enact an exception to this Act will leave the United States without any capability to utilize the Space Station. Furthermore, this impending, and widening, gap in the transition from the Shuttle to the Constellation poses a significant threat to the highly skilled aerospace workforce similar  in magnitude to the loss that accompanied the transition from the Apollo program to the Space Shuttle. This is an unfortunate situation.

"We applaud recent efforts by NASA to initiate a new series of science missions. It is imperative that the cadence of missions be improved to keep the science community fully engaged and to sustain the pipeline of future scientists and engineers. We are especially pleased to note NASA's budget proposes to initiate missions recommended by the recently completed decadal survey on Earth Science and applications."

"We agree with the majority on the importance of NASA's space and aeronautics programs. We also recognize the importance of global leadership in space and aeronautics if we are to maintain our national security, expand our economy, and advance our technological base.  NASA has been asked to do too much with too little. The Committee believes that NASA will be unable to carry out the goals laid out in the President's vision and by Congress without additional funding in FY09."

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Democratic Members

"The America COMPETES Act provided the first comprehensive authorization of NIST’s programs in 15 years, putting NIST on a 10-year path to doubling by authorizing balanced increases for both the intramural research laboratories and the extramural industrial technology programs. However, the Administration’s FY2009 budget proposes only $638 million for NIST, 28 percent lower than the amount authorized in COMPETES. The request includes increases for the intramural programs while eliminating or severely reducing funding for the extramural programs. The Committee believes this is a mistake, as the industrial technology programs have strong track records and serve a critical function in supporting U.S. competitiveness.

"The Committee believes that the proposal to eliminate Federal support for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is particularly problematic. Since 2000, the nation has lost 3.4 million manufacturing jobs, 272,000 of which were in 2007 alone.  MEP is the only Federal program that specifically targets small- and medium-sized manufacturers to help them modernize their operations, improve their competitiveness, and reduce or reverse job losses. According to a survey commissioned by NIST, small and medium-sized manufacturers who used MEP services in FY2006 created or retained 52,000 jobs, increased or retained sales of $6.8 billion, leveraged $1.7 billion in new private-sector investment, and generated cost savings of $1.1 billion. The Committee strongly supports this program, and does not agree with the Administration’s stated position that MEP can operate without Federal funding.

"The Committee also is disappointed to see no funds requested for the Technology Innovation Program (TIP). TIP was created in COMPETES to provide cost-shared support for innovative technology development by small- and medium-sized companies and joint ventures, updating and building upon the proven success of the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). The Committee has heard testimony that there is a systematic lack of private venture capital for high-risk, high-reward, seed-stage technology development, creating an urgent need for programs such as TIP to fill this gap. A failure to fund these programs risks sacrificing opportunities for U.S. technical advancement and long-term economic growth. The Committee believes that TIP plays an important role in supporting U.S. innovation, and that reducing or eliminating funding for it would significantly reduce U.S. economic competitiveness.

"The budget request includes funding to complete the construction of high-performance laboratory space at the NIST campus in Boulder, CO. The Committee continues to support this project and believes it will significantly enhance NIST’s missions."

Republican members

"We strongly support the President's request of $535, million for NIST's Scientific, Technical, and Research Services (STRS) account, which is $94 million or 21 percent more than the FY08 enacted level of $441 million. This increase reflects the priorities laid out in the President's ACI and overwhelmingly supported by both Chambers of Congress in COMPETES. However, we object to the President's FY09 request to discontinue the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and Technology Innovation Program (TIP). NIST's laboratory and extramural activities directly support our nation's international competitiveness and economic well-being and should be funded in accordance with the levels agreed to in COMPETES."