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Rep. Boehlert Comments on President's Budget

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Monday, February 6, 2006

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WASHINGTON - House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) released the following statement concerning the President's proposed budget for fiscal year 2007 for programs under the jurisdiction of the Science Committee, which was released this morning.

KEY POINTS:

* "Overall, I am elated by the President's proposals for spending on science research and education in fiscal 2007.  The American Competitiveness Initiative is a bold and much needed step to ensure our future prosperity.  The President's budget proposal for the Initiative is just what I hoped:  eloquent words followed by meaningful deeds."

* "Building on the President's proposals on clean coal, nuclear and renewable energy, the Science Committee will continue to press, through legislation and other means, for a true and balanced energy policy that will limit U.S. dependence on foreign oil."

* "I am greatly concerned about the proposed budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). We have to be sure that we are not demonstrating that science is a 'crown jewel' of NASA by seeing how much we can get for it at the pawnshop. I believe the most important planet in the Universe is the one we live on."

*The Science Committee will hold a hearing on the fiscal 2007 budget on Wednesday, February 15 with Hon. John Marburger III, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Hon. Samuel Bodman, Secretary of Energy; Hon. Arden Bement, Director, National Science Foundation; Hon. Charles McQueary, Undersecretary for Science and Technology, Department of Homeland Security; and Hon. David Sampson, Deputy Secretary of Commerce.  The Committee will also hold a budget hearing on Thursday, February 16 with Hon. Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator.

FULL STATEMENT:

"Overall, I am elated by the President's proposals for spending on science research and education in fiscal 2007.  The American Competitiveness Initiative is a bold and much needed step to ensure our future prosperity.  The Initiative is exactly the kind of proposal that was called for at our Innovation Summit last December and by numerous reports, most notably the National Academy of Sciences' Rising Above the Gathering Storm, on which we held a hearing last November.  And it also follows from legislation that has been passed by our Committee, most notably the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002. 

"The President is backing up his words of last week with a request for cold, hard cash for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and I expect the Congress to be very sympathetic to that request.  That's what I like:  eloquent words followed by meaningful deeds.  I will be continuing to work with the leaders on the Appropriations Committee, Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Chairman David Hobson (R-OH), who I know are as excited about the President's request as I am, to turn this request into reality.

"The Science Committee is in the process of deciding what authorization actions would best complement and bolster the President's agenda.  As part of that process, we are reviewing the bills that have been introduced in the House and the Senate. 

 "The President's Initiative is really an economic call to arms, and it should be seen as the equivalent of President Kennedy's challenge to ourselves and our military competitors in his inaugural address.  We now need to pay the price and bear the burdens to ensure that we can exert technological and economic leadership in the future.

"I am also extremely pleased with the President's declaration last week that we must address our 'addiction' to oil.  I have been pushing for years for one of the most basic and simple steps to do just that - increasing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards - and I will continue to do so.  But we also must bolster the energy supply research programs of the Department of Energy - and couple them with thoughtful policies to get advanced technology into the marketplace.  Building on the President's proposals on clean coal, nuclear and renewable energy, the Science Committee will continue to press, through legislation and other means, for a true and balanced energy policy that will limit U.S. dependence on foreign oil.    

"I do have several areas of concern with the proposed budget.  First, I believe that education programs at NSF are continuing to get short shrift.  As the Administration's own budget documents note, NSF is the 'principal federal agency charged with promoting science and engineering education.'  The proposed budget is not commensurate with carrying out that essential function.

"I am also greatly concerned about the proposed budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and particularly the slowed growth for NASA's space and earth science programs.  We will be reviewing that budget closely to determine exactly what impact the sharply reduced growth for NASA science will have.  Science missions have been NASA's most successful activities, and they are also the activities at NASA that most enhance human understanding of our world (the true meaning of 'exploration') and that have the greatest potential to develop new technologies.  Science funding should not be taking a back seat to operational programs that have much less impact.  We have to be sure that we are not demonstrating that science is a 'crown jewel' of NASA by seeing how much we can get for it at the pawnshop. 

"I am also concerned about NASA's aeronautics budget.  Here, too, we will be examining the impact as NASA restructures that program to make it more relevant. 

"I understand that Administrator Mike Griffin had very tough choices to make.  We have been saying for some time that NASA could not undertake all its activities at the projected budget levels.  This year's NASA budget is likely to provoke sharp debate in Congress as we must determine what NASA's priorities are.  For starters, we should be discussing whether it makes sense to accelerate development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV).  While I strongly support the President's Vision for Space Exploration, I believe the most important planet in the Universe is the one we live on, and I personally do not see any urgency for the CEV to enter service before 2014. We also need to examine the impact of the Space Shuttle and Space Station on NASA's more future-oriented programs.  I look forward to working with the Administrator, who always provides us with thoughtful and candid perspectives, as we move forward."  

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