FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

Congressional Reaction to Proposed Spending Changes

Richard M. Jones
Number 15 - February 11, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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FYI #13 outlined a series of budgetary changes that the House Appropriations Committee had proposed to reduce FY 2011 funding by $74 billion from the amount requested by the Administration.  Since that plan was announced, fiscally-conservative Republicans have demanded further cuts in the FY 2011 budget.  In response, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) released the below statement yesterday about the Continuing Resolution (CR) that is scheduled to be brought to the House floor next week.  This bill will continue funding after a stop gap measure expires on March 4.

“My Committee has been working diligently to go line-by-line in every agency budget to find and cut unnecessary spending to reduce our deficit and help our economy thrive.
“After meeting with my subcommittee Chairs, we have determined that the CR can and will reach a total of $100 billion in cuts compared to the President’s request immediately -- fully meeting the goal outlined in the Republican ‘Pledge to America’ in one fell swoop. Our intent is to make deep but manageable cuts in nearly every area of government, leaving no stone unturned and allowing no agency or program to be held sacred. I have instructed my committee to include these deeper cuts, and we are continuing to work to complete this critical legislation.”

The committee announced that these further cuts will be made available when the bill is introduced.  Fiscal Year 2011 began on October 1, 2010, almost five months ago.  All reductions in FY 2011 budgets will have to be made in the remaining months of this fiscal year, dramatically increasing the impacts the cuts will have on government-supported operations, facilities, and programs.

A number of Democratic House Members responded to the proposed budget cuts.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) cited the impacts that the proposed legislation would have on innovation in a statement that she released:

“Democrats are committed to fiscal discipline, starting with an aggressive attack on waste, fraud, and abuse in our federal budget, and we will work with Republicans to meet our goals.  But we will not do so at the expense of good jobs, a strong middle class, and a growing economy.  The Republican plan will cost jobs, undercut American innovation and clean energy, jeopardize our safety by taking cops off the street, and threaten investments in rebuilding America -- at a time when our economy can least afford it.”

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) also cited the impacts that the legislation would have on research:

“While we wait to see Republicans’ full proposal, what we’ve seen so far shows that they have not made the careful decisions necessary to ensure that while we cut spending, we do not cut investments in our economic future. Democrats believe we must reduce the deficit and cut spending, but not at the expense of the investments that will pay off tomorrow with an educated workforce, cutting edge research that keeps our economy the world’s leader, and a strong infrastructure.”

Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), the Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, also discussed research in a statement he issued:

“Are we still putting job-growth as our number one priority? Are we still going to out-educate, out-innovate and out-build our competitors internationally?  We have expressed our strong commitment to tackling our unsustainable national debt and we will work with our Republican colleagues to tackle waste, fraud and abuse across the federal budget. However, we must not embrace a 1-dimensional plan that makes for a good press release at the expense of vital investments in the long-term health of the nation.”

Also commenting on the proposed legislation was the Ranking Member on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX):

“In this difficult economic environment, all of us - Members of Congress and our constituents alike - must think carefully about priorities.  The cuts being proposed in this CR - such as the nearly one-third cut to energy R&D and cuts that appear to cripple NIST’s ability to help U.S. manufacturers compete better in the global economy - do almost nothing to balance our budget. In fact, the cuts seriously undermine our ability to continue to innovate, grow our economy, and create new jobs both now and far into the future.  Unfortunately, the impacts of these cuts are not limited to turning the lights off on groundbreaking research projects, shuttering world-class research facilities, and stopping emerging industries in their tracks.  We also risk losing many of our best and brightest scientists and innovators from the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline for good.”

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics