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FYI Number 113: August 31, 2001

Mikulski on Doubling NSF: "The Appropriators Cannot Do It Alone"

When the House and Senate return next week the most important tasks facing them will be passing the final versions of thirteen appropriations bills. One bill that will be closely followed is the FY 2002 VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill, which provides funding for the National Science Foundation and NASA. Both the House and Senate have passed their own versions of this legislation. James Walsh (R-NY) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chairs of the VA, HUD appropriations subcommittees, and their colleagues, will be writing the final version of this legislation, which will then be sent to the House and Senate for a final up-or-down vote.

The House bill would increase the NSF budget by 9.4%, while the Senate bill provides a 5.6% increase. Approximately 15% is required to double a budget in five years.

During Senate consideration of this legislation, Mikulski shared her views on funding priorities within this bill. She stated, "I remain fully committed to the doubling of the budget for NSF over the next five years, but without the support of the administration, the authorizing committees, and the Budget Committees, the appropriators cannot do it alone." A portion of her remarks follow:

"My guiding principles in drafting this bill were simple: keep the promises to our veterans; meet the compelling day-to-day needs of working poor; re-build our neighborhoods and communities; and, invest in science and technology to create jobs today and jobs tomorrow. "Based on the President's budget proposal and our subcommittee's allocation, we had to focus on restoring cuts in the President's budget and avoiding riders.

"Our overriding goal was to make sure that the core programs in veterans and housing were taken care of first, and we did that.

"We could not increase spending for any programs until our core programs for veterans and the poor were taken care of.

"While I wish the subcommittee had more resources for science, we did the best we could do given our allocation.

"I remain fully committed to doubling the budget for NSF over the next five years, but without the support of the administration, the authorizing committees, and the Budget Committees, the appropriators cannot do it alone."

"For the National Science Foundation, we provide a total of $4.7 billion for research and education. This is an increase of $256 million or 6 percent over last year.

"We had hoped to provide more. Senator Bond and I - and a large number of our Senate colleagues - believe it is in the national interest to double the NSF budget over the next 5 years.

"This recommendation represents a down payment on that policy objective."

"I would like to have been able to do more for science, technology and housing production, but this is the best we can do under our allocation and satisfy the priorities of our Members.

"To reiterate, this committee reported the bill and it compromises $84 billion in discretionary budget authority and $88 billion in outlays. The bill is balanced and fair and meets the needs of the American people. Our job was to meet certain compelling issues.

"My guiding principles were, No. 1, to keep our promises to the veterans for them to have the health care they need and not stand in line when they have to apply for their pensions; to work in the area of housing and urban development, that we would develop the programs and policies that would empower the poor to be able to move to a better life as well as rebuilding our neighborhoods and our community; also to stand up and protect the environment and invest in science and technology to create jobs today and jobs tomorrow.

"Based on the President's budget proposal and the subcommittee allocation, we had to focus on restoring cuts in the President's budget and, of course, we worked very hard to avoid riders. Our overriding goal was to make sure that core programs in veterans and housing and the environment were taken care of. We did that. We could not increase the funding for every program that was meritorious, but we could meet the basic needs of our responsibilities.

"One of the areas that we were sorry we could not increase funding to the level we wanted was in doubling the budget for the National Science Foundation over the next five years."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3095

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