Status Report

AIP FYI #124 Administration and Congress Strike FY 2002 Agreement

By SpaceRef Editor
October 3, 2001
Filed under ,

“[A]ll of us want to get a budget done as quickly as possible,
[and] get the appropriations process done. We’re making very
good progress on coming up with the size of the ultimate budget.
And once that’s decided, we pledged to work together to get the
appropriations bills moving as quickly as possible. That would
be a welcome relief from the old budget battles of the past.” So
declared President George Bush this morning after a meeting with
congressional leaders, alluding to an agreement struck between
key Members of Congress and the White House. This deal removes
the most significant obstacle that blocked completion of the 13
appropriations bills, and greatly increases the probability that
an education reform bill will be signed into law.

The key that unlocked the appropriations bills was a forthcoming
letter from President Bush acknowledging the need for $25 billion
more in FY 2002 discretionary spending than what was agreed to
earlier this year in the budget resolution. This extra spending
will almost certainly involve using a portion of the Social
Security surplus. It had been apparent to Republicans and
Democrats on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue that the extra
money would be needed, but a mechanism had to be found to ensure
that this would not become a campaign issue in the election next
year. The key Republican and Democratic House appropriators
wanted the President to send Congress a formal budget amendment.
The White House balked at making this a formal request, and after
some lengthy negotiations, it was agreed that a letter would be
sent to Congress. Reportedly the appropriators resisted this
mechanism, but were overridden by their parties’ leaders.

The additional $25 billion will be used for defense purposes
($18.4 billion), storm and wildfire emergency spending ($2.2
billion), and education ($4 billion.) The President has said
that as long as the 13 appropriations bills do not add up to more
than $686 billion in discretionary spending he will sign them, as
long as they are “otherwise acceptable.”

Appropriations staff are resolving differences in the House and
Senate versions of already passed bills, and preparing other
bills for consideration. Five of these bills are of particular
interest to the physics community. Both the VA/HUD and the
Energy and Water Development bills have a wide disparity in their
overall funding levels that will have to be settled. The
Commerce appropriations bills treat the Advanced Technology
Program very differently. Finally, the Defense and Labor-HHS-
Education bills have not yet gone to either floor. Until these
appropriations bills are signed into law, continuing resolutions
will be used to assure funding.

The availability of an additional $4 billion for education
programs in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill may
enable conference committee members to move forward on the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which would
reauthorize and reform many Education Department programs. While
both the House and Senate had completed their versions of ESEA
before the August recess, and while many minor differences have
since been resolved, major disagreements still remain on funding
and school performance measures. To help reach agreement on
funding issues, conferees were reportedly looking to the Labor-
HHS appropriators to see how much money would be made available
for programs reauthorized by ESEA.

The House version of ESEA would authorize $5 billion over
current-year funding, while the Senate bill would provide more
than $14 billion over the current level of $18.6 billion. Both
bills contain some version of a Math and Science Partnership
initiative, whereby university science and math departments could
work with states and local school districts to improve science
and math education. This initiative would take the place of the
Eisenhower professional development funding for science and math
teachers. (See FYI #80 for details of the partnership programs.)

Because the jurisdiction of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriators
extends to Department of Education programs beyond those in ESEA,
it is not yet obvious how the extra $4 billion for FY 2002
education appropriations will affect the funding available for
ESEA. Labor-HHS appropriators in the House tentatively plan to
begin marking up their bill tonight. There have been some rumors
that, in order to get education reform passed this year, ESEA
authorizers might try to attach their bill to the must-pass
Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, but conferees must still
resolve the remaining issues on ESEA, and whether that tactic
will be attempted is not yet known.

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Richard M .Jones, Audrey T. Leath

Public Information Division

The American Institute of Physics

[email protected]

(301) 209-3095, 3094

http://www.aip.org/gov

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SpaceRef staff editor.