Friday, 17 June 1988
THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS
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.
. ACRONYM UPDATE: THE "STUDENT DEFAULT INITIATIVE ACT," SDI,
was introduced this week by Rep. Pat Williams (D-MT) to address
the problem of rapidly escalating cost of student loan defaults.