Administration Opposition to FY 2016 DOE Funding Bill, NASA Authorization Bill

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Publication date: 
1 May 2015

The Obama Administration expressed its opposition to the FY 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill and the NASA Authorization Act of 2016 and 2017 in three statements released this week. 

FY 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill:

The House of Representatives is scheduled to complete action today on H.R. 2028 providing FY 2016 funding for the Department of Energy.  A four-page Statement of Administration Policy released by the Office of Management and Budget on April 28 states strong opposition to the bill, declaring “If the President were presented with H.R. 2028, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

The Statement explains:

“The bill drastically underfunds critical investments that develop American energy sources to build a clean and secure energy future; develop and commercialize the emerging technologies that create high-quality jobs and enhance the Nation's economic competitiveness; and improve resilience against current and ongoing climate impacts that threaten our economy, public health, and natural resources. As a result, it would put at risk U.S. competitiveness in new markets for clean energy industries such as advanced vehicles, advanced manufacturing, energy efficiency for homes and businesses, and domestic renewable energy such as wind, solar, and biomass. It would also harm efforts to implement the President's nuclear strategy and advance counter-proliferation objectives.”

“In addition, enacting H.R. 2028, while adhering to the congressional Republican budget's overall spending limits for fiscal year (FY) 2016 would hurt our economy and shortchange investments in middle-class priorities.  . . .  That is why the President has been clear that he is not willing to lock in sequestration going forward, nor will he accept fixes to defense without also fixing non-defense.  The President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto H.R. 2028 and any other legislation that implements the current Republican budget framework, which blocks the investments needed for our economy to compete in the future. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to reverse sequestration for defense and non-defense priorities and offset the cost with commonsense spending and tax expenditure cuts, as Members of Congress from both parties have urged.”

The Statement includes ten paragraphs regarding specific DOE programs, including the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, ARPA-E, nuclear energy, disposition of weapons-usable plutonium, and Yucca Mountain.  Regarding the Office of Science, it states:

“While the Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the Office of Science, the level of funding provided, which is $240 million below the FY 2016 Budget request, is insufficient to maintain U.S. leadership in high performance computing as the United States moves into capable exascale systems to support discovery science, national security, and economic competitiveness.”

NASA Authorization Act of 2016 and 2017:

Yesterday the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee approved, on a party-line vote, H.R. 2039.  Within hours, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden released the following statement:

“The NASA authorization bill making its way through the House of Representatives guts our Earth science program and threatens to set back generations worth of progress in better understanding our changing climate, and our ability to prepare for and respond to earthquakes, droughts, and storm events.
“NASA leads the world in the exploration of and study of planets, and none is more important than the one on which we live.

“In addition, the bill underfunds the critical space technologies that the nation will need to lead in space, including on our journey to Mars."

This morning, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren commented on the bill as follows:

“If enacted, the NASA authorization bill headed to the House floor later this month would do serious damage to the Nation’s space program, as well as to Earth-observation and Earth-science programs essential for predicting, preparing for, and minimizing the damage from disasters both natural and human-induced.

“The bill’s cuts to space-technology development would not only risk continued U.S leadership in the space industry, but would also impede progress on precisely those technologies - on-orbit refueling, advanced space propulsion, radiation protection in deep space, and more - needed to make crewed missions to deep space a reality. In the absence of robust investments to bring these technologies into being, the goal of sending U.S. astronauts to Mars in the 2030s could be in jeopardy.

“The House bill would also gut the NASA ‘mission to planet Earth’ - the satellite observations and related research that provide key measurements and insights relevant to forecasting and tracking hurricanes, fighting wildfires, observing the state of the world’s farms and forests, mapping the extent of droughts, measuring the stocks of groundwater, and monitoring the likelihood of landslides. The draconian cuts in the House bill would also delay advances in our ability to research and prepare for volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis and blind us to changes in the Earth’s oceans and ice sheets that can be discerned only from space.

“NASA’s mission to observe, understand, and explore the solar system and the cosmos beyond has long been matched in importance by its mission to use the unrivaled vantage point of Earth orbit for looking downward, to better understand the only home that humanity currently has. It is difficult to understand why, at this time of U.S. leadership in both the outward-facing and inward-facing facets of NASA’s operations in space, the Congress would want to undermine that leadership and sacrifice the panoply of benefits it brings to the Nation.”