Press Release

House Science Committee Leaders Praise House Passage of Science Agency Funding Bills

By SpaceRef Editor
November 9, 2005
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WASHINGTON, DC – House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and all four subcommittee chairmen today applauded House passage of the two appropriations bills that fund many of the government’s science programs, and praised the work of House appropriators in crafting the legislation.

Most of the federal agencies under the Science Committee’s jurisdiction, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), are funded under the Science, State, Justice and Commerce (SSJC) appropriations bill, H.R. 2862, which passed by a vote of 397 to 19.  The Energy and Water appropriations bill, H.R. 2419, which funds the Department of Energy (DOE), passed by a vote of 399 to 17.  The Committee has jurisdiction over DOE’s Office of Science and the Department’s research and development activities.

“I applaud Chairman Lewis, Chairman Wolf and Chairman Hobson for their leadership in crafting spending bills for the next fiscal year that will ensure the government’s important science activities are well funded,” said Science Chairman Boehlert.  “Would I have liked to have seen higher funding levels for NSF, NOAA, and DOE’s Office of Science?  Sure.  But these are lean fiscal times in which we find ourselves and I fully understand the financial constraints of my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee and the competing interests they had to juggle to arrive at the bills we voted on today.  In all, the SSJC and Energy and Water bills set balanced spending priorities and treat science well.  I strongly applaud their passage today.”

“I am very grateful that the conferees saw fit to return to sustaining the level of funding for NSF,   reflecting a strong commitment to NSF’s job of developing our future skilled workforce and laying the foundation for innovative technologies in the fields of telecommunications, medicine and defense,” said Environment, Technology, and Standards Subcommittee Chairman Vernon Ehlers (R-MI). 

Ehlers added, “Furthermore, I want to acknowledge the Committee’s work to restore cuts endured by several math and science education programs within the Education Directorate at NSF.  We know that other countries are investing and outperforming the United States in the area of math and science education.  We will not be able to compete with the rest of the world indefinitely if our workforce is not on the cutting edge of these fields and need to maintain programs that support math and science education.

“Finally, I appreciate that the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program (MEP) at the National Institute for Standards and Technology has been funded at $106 million, allowing MEP centers across the country to continue their vital services for small and medium-sized manufacturers that are not replicated by any other private or public organization.”

Research Subcommittee Chairman Bob Inglis (R-SC) said, “When you’re a developed economy, the smart money is on research and development.  This is smart money.”

“Robust funding levels for our nation’s science programs are vital to strengthening America’s scientific brain trust and encourages students to pursue a career in hard sciences,” said Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA).  “I am particularly pleased that NASA has received strong funding this year.  NASA is in a period of transition and needs the support of Congress to fulfill the Vision for Space Exploration and usher in the Second Space Age.  I would like to thank Chairman Jerry Lewis and Chairman Frank Wolf, and all my colleagues who have worked to ensure America will continue to lead the nation in science research and progress.”

“Chairman Hobson deserves high praise for the significant funding he provided for the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy research programs,” said Energy Subcommittee Chairman Judy Biggert (R-IL).  “Recycling spent nuclear fuel will help ensure that nuclear energy remains a significant source of sustainable electric power for the Nation now and in the future.

“I also am pleased both the House and Senate ignored the Administration’s recommendation to reduce funding for the DOE Office of Science, the nation’s primary supporter of research in the physical sciences.  While the bill is a step in the right direction, the myriad of energy challenges facing this nation requires a significantly greater investment in basic science and energy research and development (R&D), just like Congress provided in the comprehensive energy bill.  In particular, we should be growing our investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy R&D to keep energy prices low and move the nation toward energy independence.”

Biggert added, “While I had hoped funding for these programs would have been greater, I know the conferees did the best they could with limited resources to address the many missions of the DOE.”

“The SSJC appropriations bill will bolster America’s science and technology enterprise, foster innovation, and boost U.S. competitiveness,” Boehlert said.  “This is a good bill for science.”

The bill funds NSF at $5.65 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2006, an increase of $181 million over last year and $49 million above the Administration’s request.  Increased funding for NSF will support more fundamental science and engineering research, the fuel that drives the knowledge economy.  It also preserves the Math and Science Partnership program at NSF, which has a proven track record of success in bringing the intellectual resources of higher education institutions to bear on improving the performance of local school systems in math and science education.

NOAA is funded at $3.9 billion, a $21 million increase over FY 2005 and $365 million over the Administration’s request.  The budget for the National Weather Service, which provides lifesaving forecasting of hurricanes and other extreme weather events, is increased by 7 percent to $837 million.  Also increased is the budget for NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, which received a 6 percent increase to $964 million.  Included in this is $321 million for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Earth Satellite System (NPOESS).  The Committee will hold a hearing next Wednesday on cost overruns and development delays associated with the NPOESS program. 

Funding for NIST’s laboratory programs is increased by 5 percent over the FY 2005 level.  NIST is the oldest national laboratory that provides technical services to U.S. industry. In addition to performing advanced science and engineering research, NIST develops the technical standards and advanced measurement tools that help keep American industry competitive.

The bill also preserves the MEP program, a nationwide network of over 70 cooperative extension centers that provide technical and managerial assistance to America’s small and medium-sized manufacturing companies. MEP helps keep America’s small manufacturers globally competitive, improving U.S. manufacturing productivity and saving American jobs

NASA is funded at the requested level of $16.5 billion, $260 million above the Agency’s FY 2005 funding level.  The bill funds the President’s Vision for Space Exploration at $3.1 billion.  It also restores the aeronautics research program to $912 million and includes language developed by the Science Committee directing the Agency to develop a national aeronautics policy.

The Energy and Water appropriations bill also strengthens the nation’s science enterprise by increasing funding for DOE’s Office of Science, which receives $3.63 billion, an increase of $33 million over last year and $170 million over the Administration’s request. 

SpaceRef staff editor.