Today, the Subcommittee will mark up the fiscal year 2007 Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies appropriations bill. The bill funds a number of programs and initiatives that are top level priorities for the Nation, and I am pleased to describe some of the highlights for you today.
But first, I want to mention the Ranking Member, the gentleman from West Virginia, Mr. Mollohan.
He has been an excellent partner throughout our intensive hearing schedule, and a positive and cooperative force in providing vigorous oversight to the agencies under our jurisdiction.
I also want to acknowledge the rest of the Subcommittee members as well. Your participation has been outstanding. It has been a pleasure to work with each of you this year.
I would also like to thank our Committee Chairman, the gentleman from California, who has been very supportive of this Subcommittee, and also the Ranking Member, the gentleman from Wisconsin, who has always been a helpful and constructive partner.
The recommendation we bring to the Subcommittee contains $59.8 billion in discretionary spending. Within a tight allocation, we have had to focus program increases on most critical areas –fighting crime and terrorism; and boosting US competitiveness by investing in science.
The Subcommittee allocation required us to make many difficult choices and focus limited resources on programs that are most critical to the Nation.
On Monday, the FBI’s annual crime report came out, and the news is not good. Violent crime is up 2.5%, including homicide, robbery and assault. This is the first rise since 2001, and we are doing what we can in this bill to reverse that trend.
For the Department of Justice, the recommendation includes $22.1 billion, $1 billion above the request, to restore needed funds for State and local crime fighting to keep our communities safe. The bill also includes increases for Federal law enforcement for terrorism prevention and traditional law enforcement, including drug enforcement.
The bill includes new investments to fight the national epidemic of methamphetamine abuse:
$367 million for Justice Assistance Grants to help support local drug task forces, a $50 million increase over the current year;
$99 million in grants to combat meth, as authorized by the PATRIOT Act last year, a $36 million increase over the current year;
$40 million for drug courts, which is $30 million over the current year; and a
$15 million increase over the request for DEA to support State and local efforts and fight international trafficking.
The bill also focuses funding on fighting gangs and gang violence. We have continued and enhanced FBI and ATF anti-gang programs, and restored funding to the gang resistance training program. In addition, we have supported a $40 million gang program following the Project Safe Neighborhoods model that will allow each U.S. Attorney’s office to fund anti-gang strategies in cooperation with State and local law enforcement.
The bill includes $6.04 billion for the FBI to improve counterterrorism and counterintelligence capabilities, while continuing to fight crimes such as child exploitation, human trafficking and gang violence.
The recommendation includes a total of $2.57 billion for proven State and local law enforcement crime fighting programs, restoring $1.1 billion above the request to the highest priority programs, including SCAAP, Justice Assistance Grants, and Juvenile Justice programs, all of which the Administration proposed to eliminate or dramatically reduce.
The other area of focus in the bill this year is Science.
The budget increases for NSF and NIST research, and the announcement of the American Competitiveness Initiative, are welcome signs that the Administration has come to terms with the crisis in competitiveness.
The American Competitiveness Initiative includes a commitment to double funding for basic scientific research over 10 years, and also to strengthen education and encourage entrepreneurship.
This bill fully funds the requested increases for the science and competitiveness programs of NIST and NSF.
For the NSF, we are providing the requested increase of $439 million or 8% over last year. This funding will go toward the types of research that will keep America’s economy strong by setting the groundwork for the development of new technologies.
Maintaining a well-educated and skilled workforce is also critical to American competitiveness. The bill funds NSF education programs at $16 million above the request for professional development programs for teachers and research-based curricula to improve the quality of science education.
For NIST, we have provided $104 million above the current year level for core science programs in support of the American Competitiveness Initiative, and $92 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, double the requested level, to keep the American manufacturing sector competitive.
This bill makes a strong commitment to improving our competitiveness. There is no more important investment we can make to ensure the future security and economic well-being of future generations of Americans.
I will briefly say a few words about the rest of the bill, then yield to other Members.
For NASA, the bill includes $16.7 billion. This level ensures that the President’s vision for space exploration is adequately funded while at the same time restoring a portion of the damaging cuts that were proposed for NASA’s aeronautics research and science programs. The bill includes increases of $100 million for aeronautics and $75 million for science.
For the Department of Commerce and related trade agencies, the recommendation includes $5.9 billion, a decrease of $629 million below 2006, which is largely a result of the reduction of lower priority spending in NOAA and the elimination of the ATP program.
Funding provided in the bill strongly supports the trade agencies, empowering them to negotiate, verify and enforce trade agreements that are free and fair, and to ensure an even playing field for American businesses.
As we have heard this week, the hurricane season is already off to a busy start. The bill fully funds the requested levels for the critical functions of the National Weather Service and NOAA’s weather and climate satellite programs.
The bill includes $1.8 billion, a 5.2% increase, for PTO, and an increase of $72 million to support the ramp up to the 2010 decennial census, including funding for the American Community Survey.
For the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the recommendation includes $9.67 billion, an increase of $230 million above 2006 levels, and $386 million below the request.
Within this total, we are providing $1.7 billion, the full request, for worldwide security improvements and replacement of vulnerable facilities.
We also continue to strongly support public diplomacy improvements, including significant increases for information programs, international broadcasting, and international exchange programs particularly with the Arab and Muslim World.
For Related Agencies, the bill provides $900 million for the Securities and Exchange Commission in support of new information technology enhancements to better protect American investors.
The bill enables the FCC to conduct additional audits and oversight of the Universal Service Fund, where reports of waste, fraud, and abuse plague the program.
For the SBA, the recommendation provides $90 million for Small Business Development Centers, a $2 million increase, to provide small businesses with counseling and other technical assistance. The bill also allows up to $17.5 billion in general 7(a) business loans, an unprecedented program level, while requiring no appropriation. The recommendation also supports an anticipated five-year average for disaster loans so that disaster victims do not have to wait for emergency funds in a time of need.
That is a summary of the recommendation before you today. It provides increases that will help the US maintain its competitiveness.
It renews the fight against terrorism and drugs, by funding the request for critical Federal law enforcement agencies and and restoring desperately needed resources for State and local law enforcement personnel.
It represents our best take on matching needs with scarce resources.
At this point, it would be my intention to yield to Mr. Mollohan; but first I would like to yield to the Full Committee Chairman Mr. Lewis, then to the Full Committee Ranking Member Mr. Obey, if they would like to make remarks.