Press Release

House Science Committee Members Raise Concern Over Balance of Federal R&D Budget

By SpaceRef Editor
February 13, 2002
Filed under , ,

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Many members on both sides of the aisle today expressed concerns over the balance in the federal research and development portfolio.Ê The apprehension was expressed at a House Science Committee hearing on the Administration’s fiscal year 2003 research and development budget.Ê Committee members pointed to dramatic increases in the budget for the National Institutes of Health in relation to other scientific agencies.

Testifying on behalf of the Administration were:

  • The Honorable Jack Marburger, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • The Honorable Samuel W. Bodman, Deputy Secretary, Department of Commerce
  • The Honorable Rita Colwell, Director, National Science Foundation
  • The Honorable Bruce Carnes, Chief Financial Officer, Director, Office of Management, Budget and Evaluation, Department of Energy

    Their testimony can be found at http://www.house.gov/science/full02/fchearings.htm.

    Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) offered the following analysis, “Even a casual glance at the budget makes clear what the R&D priorities are – biomedical research and the fight against terrorism at home and abroad.Ê These are reasonable – even self-evident — priorities and they deserve to be funded more generously than are other programs.Ê That’s what it means to be a budget priority.

    “But I’m concerned that the proposed budget treats these items not just as priorities, but as panaceas.Ê And that, I fear, is a mistake.Ê I have long supported, and continue to support the doubling of the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).Ê But the NIH alone cannot undergird our economic health or even improve human health.Ê Yet the NIH budget is now larger than that of the rest of the civilian science agencies put together, and just the increase in the NIH budget is larger than the research budget of NSF.”

    Committee Ranking Member Ralph M. Hall (D-TX) added, “The President’s budget request this year calls for substantial cuts in the DOE oil and gas research and development programs, while one of the President’s Energy Policy Task Force recommendations released last year directs the Secretaries of Energy and Interior to promote oil and gas recovery from existing wells through new technology.Ê Oil and gas production in this country is declining rapidly while consumption grows steadily.Ê The small independent oil and gas companies that produce most of the domestic oil and gas don’t have the deep pockets to fund costly and complex R&D programs.Ê DOE should be a leader in pushing for increases in these programs, rather than cutting back on them at a time when they are needed most.Ê I strongly urge the Administration to reconcile its budget and programmatic priorities soon in support of increases in these programs.”

    Committee Members React:

    Energy Subcommittee Chairman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) – “Recognizing the limitations of the higher priority for increasing defense and homeland security funding, the R&D budget will do what needs to be done in the area of research and development.Ê I’m pleased that the President’s Budget supports the Science Committee’s contributions to H.R. 4, the House-passed comprehensive energy bill.Ê There are still some unanswered questions about DOE’s budget.”

    Environment, Technology, and Standards Subcommittee Chairman Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) – “It was refreshing to discuss how much we are already doing in science and engineering research, but dismaying to realize how much we have to increase our research budgets to meet the nation’s needs in health cures and job improvement.”

    Research Subcommittee Chairman Nick Smith (R-MI) – The shift in governmental priorities from last year is quite clear, and I think President Bush should be commended for developing a budget that makes some hard choices.Ê Given all that has happened, science programs have fared well in this budget, which calls for civilian science and technology spending of $57 billion in fiscal year 2003, a 9 percent increase.Ê

    Rep. Constance Morella (R-MD) – “We need a more balanced portfolio, and we must champion the traditional areas of research as well as the exciting, new projects that have generated so many headlines of late.

    “Nevertheless, overall I am pleased with this initial proposal.Ê I think the new budget represents a great deal of growth in the administration’s thinking towards the importance of science, and I believe no small credit goes to the Chairman of this committee.”

    Rep. Felix Grucci (R-NY) – “Programs such as the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS) at Brookhaven National Lab and funding for SeaGrant are critical to Long Island and our nation, environmentally, economically and scientifically.Ê We need to make sure that important programs like this have adequate funding and aren’t forgotten at a time when our national priorities are changing.”

    Rep. John Larson (D-CT) – “I am concerned about the direction of this country’s aerospace R&D enterprise, particularly when compared with the European Union’s Vision 2020.Ê But I am also concerned–considering the cuts included in the aviation R&D accounts and other Administration actions such as the White House decision to withdraw its own directive establishing an interagency working group to develop a comprehensive vision for air transportation–that we are not taking this challenge seriously enough.Ê I hope that the Administration will work with us to develop a long-term strategic vision for the nation’s aerospace industry.”ÊÊ

  • SpaceRef staff editor.