28 July 95 Washington, DC
1. DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE: WALKER BILL WOULD VACUUM UP THE DEBRIS.
The focus on Capitol Hill has been on dismantling, which leaves a lot of leftover pieces that have to go somewhere. Robert Walker (R-PA), chair of the House Science Committee, proposes to collect whatever remains of ten separate departments and agencies under a Department of Science: NASA, NIST, NSF, NOAA, EPA, the National Technical Information Service, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Patent and Trademark Office, the United States Geological Survey, and the Department of Energy -- less a few parts. A "discussion draft" of the "Department of Science Organization Act of 1995" calls for selling DOE's five power marketing administrations, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and the Naval Petroleum Reserves. It would also transfer such things as the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management and the Office of Fissile Materials to the Defense Department. The Science Committee has finished its essential authorization bills, and Walker is expected to introduce the bill in this session.
2."HIROSHIMA: WHY THE BOMB WAS DROPPED"-- AND WHY ABC DROPPED IT!
What did the Smithsonian's revisionist historians do after "The Last Act: the Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II" was scaled down from a hand-wringing guilt trip to a portion of the Enola Gay's fuselage and the reflections of its crew? They apparently kidnapped Peter Jennings of ABC News. "Hiroshima: Why the Bomb Was Dropped," aired on ABC last night. It included the shocking revelation that a Hollywood movie version of the episode was not historically accurate! Jennings, a seven-year-old Canadian when the bomb was dropped, said the Smithsonian had been "bullied" by veterans' groups. But the exhibit was changed because there are Americans with clearer memories of that period than Jennings'.
3. COMMERCE: RAMPAGING FRESHMEN EXTRACT PROMISE ON DISMANTLEMENT
. House Republican leaders agreed to include legislation killing Commerce in an already overloaded catch-all budget bill that will be introduced in the fall. They made the concession to freshman budget hawks in order to move ahead on the Commerce appropriation bill (WN 21 Jul 95). The Commerce spending bill provides zip for ATP, but funding for research is actually up 5% from last year.
4. OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT: ABOLISHED AS OF OCTOBER 1
The House had voted to merge OTA with the Congressional Research Service (WN 23 Jun 95), but a House/Senate Conference yesterday agreed on the Senate version, eliminating the office entirely.
5. SPACE STATION: REMAINS UNSCATHED BY THE WAVE OF BUDGET CUTS
. As if to emphasize the need for an OTA, the House today defeated the Roemer amendment to kill the station and devote the savings to deficit reduction. The vote was 132-287. As usual, the money to fully fund the station was taken from science programs.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)