Science Committee Democrats Question Administration's R&D Budget Priorities


Today, President Bush released his Administration's FY2005 budget request.  Senior Democratic Members of the Committee reacted with the following comments.

Ranking Member Bart Gordon (TN):

"Just as every family knows you have to put something away as an investment for tomorrow, so it is with the nation.  The Administration's budget fails to make the responsible investments in our future that our children expect of us.  If we hope to grow new industries, provide new skills to unemployed workers, and foster the economic conditions that will allow us to eliminate our Federal deficit, we have to invest in research and development programs.  A budget submission that shows Federal Science and Technology programs declining by 0.4% marks a breach of faith with the future.

"I am particularly disappointed to see programs that support industry and create jobs fail to receive funding.  The Administration proposes to terminate the Advanced Technology Program, and it starves the Manufacturing Extension Program with a mere $40 million - less than two-thirds of what that program really needs.  According to the Modernization Forum, the requested level of funding means that 11,000 small manufacturers will not receive services, there will be $1.8 billion in lost sales and a total of 28,000 workers will either be laid off or not hired.  These two programs at the Department of Commerce are our premiere methods for supporting small- and medium-sized firms that bring new ideas to market and adopt new technologies that allow companies to stay competitive.  Too many shops around the country have shuttered their doors, sending workers away with little hope of finding good, high-paying jobs.  We need to do what we can to reverse this trend and move the country forward.  This budget proposal fails in that fundamental task."

Research Subcommittee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX):

"Two years ago, the Congress sent the President a bill authorizing a doubling of NSF's programs over 5 years.  Despite signing that bill to glowing reviews, the President has sent us two successive budgets that fall far short of reaching that goal.  With this budget submission we stand $3 billion below the doubling path.  This marks a fundamental breach of trust with our institutions of higher education and with our children, who depend on NSF to fund the best and brightest to pursue the most promising scientific insights.  The only thing more surprising is the 18% cut to the education and human resources budget account from an Administration that has claimed education of our youth as one of its rhetorical hallmarks."

Environment, Technology and Standards Subcommittee Ranking Member Mark Udall (CO):

"I am very disappointed at the cuts to science at both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.  The Science and Technology accounts in both agencies suffer an 11% and 12% cut respectively.  Add to that the cuts of programs to support manufacturers and create jobs in the National Institutes for Standard and Technology, and I come away believing that this is a budget lacking vision."

Energy Subcommittee Ranking Member John Larson (CT):

"We will have to carefully examine whether the mix of investments proposed for the Department of Energy (DOE) R&D budget moves us towards energy independence.  Funding for Science programs and Energy Conservation programs at DOE are both down by 1%.  The Administration continues to ignore the deteriorating conditions in our National labs - submitting a request that reduces infrastructure funding by 46%.  These labs are at the heart of our energy research enterprise.  Energy Supply research programs - programs designed to develop alternatives to petroleum and coal-based energy generation - are barely up by 1%.  Taken together this does not look like a path towards energy independence."

Space Subcommittee Ranking Member Nick Lampson (TX):

"The President made the right decision in setting some long-term goals for the nation's human space flight program.  That said, I have real questions about the approach taken in this budget to fund the initiative: cutting other important NASA programs, shutting down the Shuttle program years before a replacement vehicle will be available, and eliminating more space station research activities.  I think we can do better."

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