Friday, 21 July 95 Washington, DC
1. HOUSE FRESHMEN PLAN TO DISMANTLE COMMERCE AND TERMINATE NIST!
The Commerce Appropriations Bill may reach the House floor today. It's bad news. The Appropriations Committee recommends $404M for NIST: $360M less than this year and a staggering $619M below the request. Research would be down less than 1% from this year, but the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) would be terminated. More significantly, it will be an early indication of prospects for the Commerce Dismantling Act introduced by freshman Dick Chrysler
(WN 7 Jul 95). A string of Chrysler amendments, aimed at killing specific Commerce programs, will be introduced by fellow freshman
Mark Neumann (R-WI) who sits on Appropriations. They won't pass, but they should give some idea of who is supporting dismantling.
2. PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS ENTERS THE SENATE DEBATE OVER COMMERCE.
In the Senate, presidential hopefuls have joined the freshmen in calling for the dismantling of Commerce to prove they aren't soft on the budget. Both Phil Gramm (R-TX) and majority leader Bob
Dole (R-KS) are cosponsors of the Senate version of the Commerce
Dismantling Act, introduced by freshman Spencer Abraham (R-MI)
(WN 7 Jul 95). The Senate bill transfers NIST's constitutional responsibility for weights and measures to NSF and puts the labs up for sale. Sen. Dole plans to testify in favor of the bill at a Government Affairs Committee hearing next week, which means he expects it to pass. Some senators complain they haven't heard from constituents on this one; if they don't, NIST is history.
3. WHAT, YOU MAY BE WONDERING, HAPPENED TO THE LINE-ITEM VETO?
Promised by the "Contract with America," the line-item veto was to be an inoculation against pork barrel funding. WN sneered that for a GOP Congress to give Bill Clinton such power would be comparable to violating the second law of thermodynamics (WN 11
Nov 94). But only four weeks after the 104th Congress convened, the House passed it, and a similar bill passed the Senate a month later. All that remains is for a House/Senate Conference to iron out differences. But the House hasn't even named its conferees, and the suspicion is growing that the line-item veto is dead.
4. ALIEN ABDUCTIONS AT MIT: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE WORST KIND.
A new book is out on the 1992 conference held at MIT to compare the reports of people who have been abducted by aliens. "Close
Encounters of the Fourth Kind," by C.D.B. Bryan includes post- conference interviews with the co-chairs, Harvard psychiatrist
John Mack, whose response to patients who thought they had been abducted was to agree with them, and David Pritchard, an MIT physicist and APS Fellow (WN 4 Sep 92), who was interested in the implants that most abductees say were inserted into their bodies.
But an "implant" from the penis of abductee Richard Price seems to have been of distinctly terrestrial origin: "human tissue that had accreted fibers of cotton from Price's underwear." Ugh!
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)