Unfinished Business: Senate FY 2001 Dept. Of Energy Bill When Congress returns next month it will have much work to do to on the FY 2001 appropriations bills before it can recess for the year. Two bills of particular concern to the physics community are the VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill, which has not yet been written by the Senate subcommittee because of money problems, and the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, which has not gone to the Senate floor.
Before leaving for the summer recess, Senator Pete Domenici's (R-New Mexico) appropriations subcommittee completed its work on H.R. 4733. Based on draft report language, this bill makes significant cuts in the administration's request for the High Energy Physics (HEP), Nuclear Physics, Basic Energy Sciences (BES), and Fusion Energy Sciences programs (see FYI #86). The HEP, Nuclear, and Fusion accounts would be reduced even below current-year levels. Although funding for BES would increase, much of that increase would go toward the Spallation Neutron Source, leaving little room for new initiatives. Some DOE officials have raised the concern that language allocating $20.1 million to new nanotechnology research would force the BES core research programs to be cut below FY 2000 funding levels as well.
A Statement of Administration Policy by the Office of Management of Budget on the Senate subcommittee's bill states that it "fails to address the critical needs of the American people." OMB further states that because of the bill's funding levels for various DOE programs, and other water development programs, that "his senior advisors would recommend that he [the President] veto it." Portions of the Statement of Administration Policy follow:
"The Administration appreciates efforts by the Committee to accommodate a number of Presidential priority programs within its 302(b) allocation. However, the bill contains several highly objectionable riders that inappropriately interfere with important Executive Branch efforts, and the bill still inadequately funds certain key domestic priorities. Because of these issues, if this bill were presented to the President in this form, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto it...."
"The Administration is concerned with the large shift in the Senate bill from key domestic priorities of the Department of Energy (DOE) to fund Atomic Energy Defense Activities. The bill provides $599 million less than the President's request for DOE's domestic programs and adds $401 million to the President's request for defense activities. The bill would significantly reduce vital programs in science, radioactive waste management, energy research, and other activities. Specific funding issues include [along with ten other objections]:
"Science. The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's severe cut of $281 million [from the request] to DOE's science programs including facilities utilization, nanotechnology, and scientific computing. Among the most objectionable are the reductions of $99.0 million in basic energy sciences, including a $38 million reduction to Spallation Neutron Source construction and a $23.7 million reduction in funds for the operation of user facilities; a reduction of $42.0 million for advanced scientific computing research; a reduction of $40.0 million in high energy physics; a reduction of $19.6 million in nuclear physics; and a reduction of $20.0 million in fusion energy sciences. These deep cuts to DOE's basic science research programs are short-sighted and will cripple basic research in these disciplines. The reductions undermine our country's basic research, with the costs to be borne by thousands of researchers and students at universities across the country and at Government and private-sector laboratories. We strongly urge that these critical research funds be restored."
Richard M. Jones