Friday, 24 June 94 Washington, DC
1. DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE BEGINS SHOOTING HOSTAGES!
The war between Rep. George Brown (D-CA), nemesis of earmarkers,
and John Murtha (D-PA), pork-barrel Hall of Famer
(WN 26 Nov 93),
has taken an ugly turn. You will recall that Brown threatened to
subpoena documents from the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee,
which Murtha chairs, relating to academic pork in DOD spending.
Brown got the documents
(WN 27 May 94). But last week, Murtha's
subcommittee held a four-day closed door markup of the $243B FY95
Defense spending bill. There was panic when word leaked out that
Murtha had stripped university research programs out of the bill
amounting to some $900M. Programs zeroed out include the
University Research Initiative and the Technology Reinvestment
Program. The cuts may be restored, but Murtha has delivered a
stern message to universities about choosing their friends.
2. SENATOR MIKULSKI'S NSF AUTHORIZATION BILL IS STILL IN LABOR!
You will recall that the House passed an authorization bill for
NSF some weeks ago
(WN 6 May 94). Things are more complicated in
the Senate, where both the Labor and Commerce Committees claim
jurisdiction. Labor, chaired by Ted Kennedy (D-MA), will produce
the first draft and pass it on to Commerce. Barbara Mikulski (D-
MD), who is on Labor, has introduced a "discussion draft" that is
expected to be adopted. Her bill provides generous increases in
the NSF budget and leaves out the hated "pause" in indirect cost
payments, but it requires at least 60% of the NSF research budget
to go to eight "strategic" areas of technology -- and specifies
the funding level of each. The word "basic" is one casualty; the
bill speaks of "basic research in manufacturing technology." The
Mikulski and House bills are clearly non-intersecting sets, which
will make reconciliation of the two bills difficult. If there is
no agreement on an authorization bill, the Mikulski language may
be reincarnated in the report of her NSF appropriations bill.
3. OPPONENTS PROMISE ANOTHER FLOOR FIGHT OVER THE SPACE STATION!
The House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 95 VA-HUD-IA
funding bill, which fully funds the space station and cuts every-
thing else, including NSF
(WN 10 Jun 94). That sets the stage for
a Tuesday shootout on the House floor. The amendment to kill the
station is expected to call for the money to go to other NASA
programs, unlike last year when opponents said it should go to
deficit reduction. The station passed by one vote a year ago.
4. GOLDIN"S FINAL PITCH FOR THE STATION: "IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN"!
With a week to go before the crucial House vote, Dan Goldin gave
an emotional defense of the troubled space station to reporters
at the National Press Club. "America's children are becoming
couch potatoes," he said. His diagnosis? They need inspiration.
Where can they get it? From images of astronauts and cosmonauts
assembling a station, presumably viewed on TV from the couch.