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FYI Number 75: June 2, 2006

From the White House and the Capitol: DOE Science Developments

The House of Representatives has passed the FY 2007 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, containing a 14.1% increase for the DOE Office of Science. This bill, details of which can be read at http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/068.html, is now pending in the Senate.

Across the Capitol, the Senate approved the nomination of Raymond Orbach, former Director of the DOE Office of Science, as the new Under Secretary for Science. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) stated: "Mr. Orbach brings an impressive background in science and academia to this post. We created this position in the energy bill as part of a broader push to expand DOE's commitment to and expertise in science. I think Mr. Orbach will ably lead that charge."

The White House released the following statements from President George Bush and OSTP Director John Marburger regarding the House passage of the appropriations bill:

PRESIDENT BUSH: "I applaud the House of Representatives for passing the Energy and Water appropriations bill. I am grateful for the House Leadership's work on it. This bill marks a critical first step toward realizing my American Competitiveness Initiative, and it fully funds my request for the Energy Department's Office of Science. I appreciate the leadership of Chairman [David] Hobson and Chairman [Jerry] Lewis in working to keep our economy the most competitive in the world… I urge the Senate to join the House in supporting these important initiatives."

DIRECTOR MARBURGER: "As a result of Chairman Hobson championing this key component of the American Competitiveness Initiative, the House has fully funded the President's request for the DOE Office of Science. Equally impressive and appreciated is Chairman Hobson's strong, sure hand in guiding the ACI funding through the House with greatly reduced earmarking. I also commend the House Leadership's support and discipline in this regard, and encourage the Senate to act in kind."

Selections from the May 24 debate on the House floor follow:

SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIRMAN DAVID HOBSON (R-OH): "I think the committee has produced a very responsible bill that makes sound investment decisions for the future of our agencies and, frankly, for the future of our country. I believe we have one of the best Secretaries of Energy that we have had in a long time. The DOE budget request for fiscal year 2007 reflects some very clear policy choices made by the Secretary in favor of basic science research and applied energy research."

"My goal for this year's bill is to earmark less than we did last year." After comparing the funding for this year's earmarked projects with those recommended in the FY 2007 bill, Hobson stated: "This is a reduction of $200 million, or 16 percent. Frankly, if we include congressional adds and programmatic increases and focus only on project-specific earmarks, then our earmarks total only 1 percent of a $30 billion appropriations bill.

"Most importantly, most of the earmarks in our bill are fully funded, meaning they do not compete with administration priorities. And I want to say once again we not only take out ours where we have to, we take out the President's, and last year we took out a number on the Senate [side] when we got to conference.

"We have produced a very responsible House bill. If you want to see real earmark reform, then we encourage our colleagues in the other body to live by the same earmark levels that we have in our bill and to provide funding headroom for those earmarks so they do not adversely impact the base programs of our agencies."

SUBCOMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER PETER VISCLOSKY (D-IN): "Last year's cuts to the science account at DOE were estimated to reduce support for 2,200 researchers. This year's funding will increase support for 2,600 researchers. This type of oscillation, however, does not attract bright minds to the research areas DOE sponsors, and a new increase of only 400 researchers over 2 years is hardly a major step forward. But it is a step forward, and I would stress to my colleagues and to the administration that further major increases will be required to support the physical sciences at the level befitting our Nation and its desire for continued economic growth and world leadership."

REP. SHERWOOD BOEHLERT (R-NY): "I rise in strong support of this bill; and I want to commend Chairman Hobson for the outstanding manner in which he has brought this House to this point, cooperating fully, minority, the majority, cooperating fully with the authorizing committees, and how refreshing that is to see us working hand in glove in common cause.

"This bill is very important in the priorities it sets. The President's American Competitive Initiative is fully funded; the President's advanced energy initiative, which is fully funded, except for wise reductions on nuclear reprocessing.

"I want to thank Secretary Bodman and Under Secretary Orbach for the long-needed attention they have brought to science programs at the Department. They are two of the finest senior public officials in this or any administration, and we are very fortunate to have them at their posts.

"As the National Academy of Sciences points out in the report, ‘Rising Above the Gathering Storm,' the U.S. must substantially increase its investment in basic research and the physical sciences to remain competitive. This bill responds to that message. This bill is a good bill. I urge its full support."

REP. RODNEY FRELINGHUYSEN (R-NJ) (Member of the Appropriations Committee): "We have done things with . . . energy alternatives, as Congressman Boehlert just mentioned, the American Competitive Initiative, more money into research and science, and in terms of energy renewables, the work of the ITER program, the international ITER program in terms of fusion, their combination with domestic fusion."

REP. JUDY BIGGERT (R-IL): "I rise in strong support of this bill. Since coming to Congress, I have been advocating for increased resources for research in the physical sciences and for the Department of Energy Office of Science in particular. I just really am most gratified that the chairman and the ranking member of the Energy and Water Subcommittee fully supported the President's request for funding for the DOE Office of Science.

"As the Nation's primary supporter of research in the physical sciences, the DOE Office of Science led the way in creating a unique system of large-scale, specialized, often one-of-a-kind facilities for scientific discovery."

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

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