Friday, 1 July 94 Washington, DC
1. "ADJUSTMENTS" TO DEFENSE SPENDING BILL EXPECTED IN CONFERENCE!
In the frenzy to pass all 13 spending bills before adjourning for
the Independence Day recess, the House unexpectedly took up the
$240B Defense appropriation bill a day early. The measure strips
$900M from university research programs
(WN 24 Jun 94) -- that's
about half of all academic research in the DOD request. Shortly
before midnight on Wednesday, it passed after only 15 minutes of
debate. Although legitimate research projects were savaged, $67M
was earmarked for schools in the districts of the appropriators,
including $23M for the University of Pittsburgh, the alma mater
of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) who also gave Pitt a $70M earmark last
year (WN 26 Nov 93).
Having made his point, Murtha now says he
is prepared to make "adjustments" in conference with the Senate.
2. SENATE ENERGY BILL: JOHNSTON SENDS A MESSAGE TO DOE ON FUSION!
Last night, the Senate passed its version of an FY95 Energy and
Water Appropriations Bill. Bennett Johnston (D-LA), chair of the
Energy Appropriations Subcommittee, introduced an amendment to
his own bill restoring construction funds for the Tokamak Physics
Experiment. You will recall that Johnston singled out TPX last
fall, insisting he first wanted action on ITER
(WN 5 Nov 93). The
bill he brought to the Senate contained no construction funds for
TPX on the grounds that there was no commitment to ITER. Having
made his point, he supported an amendment to start construction.
The news was not that good for the Advanced Neutron Source. The
House cut construction of the ANS from $27M to $10M
(WN 3 Jun 94);
the Senate eliminated construction completely, arguing that
the project is "not mature enough." The Senate bill provides
$631M for high-energy physics, $15M below the House, but still
$10M above the request; both put the extra money into operations.
3. HOUSE APPROVES THE SPACE STATION BY A LOPSIDED 278-155 VOTE!
The VA/HUD/IA appropriations bill (WN 24 Jun 94)
now goes to the
Senate, where support for the space station seems assured even
though Senator Mikulski (D-MD) cautions against taking anything
for granted. There were the customary floor speeches invoking
Columbus, and a Texas congressman implored his colleagues not to
"take the sparkle out of our children's eyes," but it was the
White House strategy of focusing on jobs and foreign policy that
paid off. One could only wish that the White House, led by Vice-
President Al Gore, would fight that hard for the NSF budget.
4. NATIONAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL HOLDS ITS FIRST MEETING!
The Council, composed of agency heads and such, was created by
President Clinton last fall (WN 3 Dec 93).
The up-beat meeting
focused on the science policy white paper, "Science in the Public
Interest," the release of which is expected in three weeks--as it
has been for months. No need to hurry. Passage of the spending
bills put science policy firmly in the hands of appropriators.