Friday, 17 June 1988

moved forward another step yesterday in the Senate when the Appropriations Subcommittee on HUD-Independent Agencies completed its painful work. It faced the task of reducing outlays by $575M, and it came down to a choice of taking it from Veterans Medical Care or NASA. William Proxmire (D-WI), the lame-duck Subcommittee Chairman, picked NASA. This prompted an angry Jake Garn (R-UT), one of the few members of Congress to spend time in outer space -- at least in the corporeal sense, to introduce an amendment to defy the Subcommittee's allocation and assume a figure equal to that of their House counterpart. He complained, with considerable justification, that the Subcommittee had been penalized for practicing fiscal conservatism. He got sympathy, but no votes. The bill must now go to the full committee, then to the Senate floor and finally be compromised with the House. Each step is a potential land mine. Among the "highlights" of the markup: THE MANNED SPACE STATION WAS SCRUBBED by the Subcommittee. They provided just $200M, which is sufficient to maintain the program only through January of 89. This compares to the $902M voted by the House. This is clearly intended to put pressure on the full committee to come up with additional funds, but it could also force a major decision on space in the first days of the next Administration. By contrast, the Subcommittee came in above the House figures on most science programs, including planetary missions, the space telescope and life sciences. NSF FARED BETTER THAN EXPECTED IN THE SUBCOMMITTEE MARKUP (WN 20 May 88). They recommended $1.593B for research, which is $10M below the President's budget request but $15M above the House figure. Following the lead of the House, the $150M line for S&T Centers was deleted. Science education was funded at the level of the request, but the $10M House add-on for teacher preparation was deleted. The salary rate of PI's under NSF grants was capped at $100,000 per year (my salary will not be affected). THE WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY, took another direct hit. Budget cuts forced OSTP to reduce its staff by about half after the departure of Keyworth, and the budget request for FY 89 cut another $100,000. Even that was not enough for Congress. The House took away another $200,000, leaving a total of only $1.6M. The Senate Subcommittee yesterday concurred with the House figure. OSTP is already required to rely heavily on staff detailed from other agencies, who receive half their salary from their parent agency. Inadequate staff is frequently cited as one of the reasons for the ineffectiveness of OSTP.

was introduced this week by Rep. Pat Williams (D-MT) to address the problem of rapidly escalating cost of student loan defaults.

Bob Park can be reached via email at
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.