Republicans Touch the Future, Lift Wallet
In a move towards a complete reinvention of the Federal role in civilian science and technology, the House last week passed H.R. 3322, the Omnibus Civilian Science Authorization Act of 1996. This Republican bill boldly slashed approximately $2 billion from the President's FY 1997 budget request for the Department of Energy, NIST, NOAA, NSF and NASA.
George E. Brown, Jr., ranking Democratic Member of the House Science Committee commented, "I remain appalled at the lack of understanding my Republican colleagues show on the role of science and technology for this Nation's future. However, I do want to give credit where credit is due. By freeing up resources in both public and private sector laboratories across the country, the Republican majority are taking a brave step towards filling high-demand, service-industry jobs in burger and taco stands around the country."
Brown continued, "Priority setting in science and technology policy has become an arbitrary and capricious exercise, grounded not in fact-finding and solid oversight by the Committee of jurisdiction, but upon the accumulated myths, prejudices and whims of the Republican leadership. The only redeeming quality to the floor debate, and this is true for virtually all authorizing Committees in the House, is that it will probably be irrelevant to appropriators."
House Democrats failed, in an almost straight party-line vote, to adopt a Brown substitute which contained the President's request levels for civilian science agencies. The President's request was more generous for all categories of research-basic and applied. Other key amendments included: