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Chairman Mollohan's Statement on FY 2009 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee Markup

Press Release From: U.S. House of Representatives
Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2008

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WASHINGTON - Today, Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Chairman of the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, made the following statement at the subcommittee markup of the FY 2009 bill.

"Welcome everyone. We are here today to consider the Subcommittee's recommendation for the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2009. This Spring, in preparation for this occasion, our Subcommittee held an extensive series of 20 hearings and 2 informal briefings, featuring testimony from Department officials, oversight agencies, Members of Congress and outside witnesses. We focused on every Department and the components within them, and we offer both encouragement and criticism where warranted. Our work can be found in 8 hearing volumes and in over 8,000 pages of official transcript.

"At the outset, let me thank the Ranking Member of this Subcommittee, Mr. Frelinghuysen, for his contributions to this bill. We have worked cooperatively together and I appreciate his recommendations in crafting it and the bipartisan approach he brings to his work. Let me thank each member of the Subcommittee for their contributions as well. And lastly, I must thank the Full Committee Chairman, Mr. Obey, for the courtesies that he has extended to this Subcommittee and to me, and particularly for the allocation. The allocation provided to this Subcommittee permits us to invest in critical science research in climate change and in aeronautics, as well as in state and local law enforcement - all areas in which the budget request was inadequate. I believe that the product presented to you today reflects the bipartisan majority of the House and I am pleased to commend it to you.

"This bill touches and enriches the lives of every American in many varied ways. Whether in assisting the poor with legal representation; combating crime and deterring terrorism and the scourge of drugs; improving and protecting our Nation's oceans, waters and natural habitats; enabling new discoveries in science here in our Nation's laboratories on Earth, or in its heavens, that lead to improvements in our health, our environment and our economy; or providing appropriate, humane care of our inmate population, to reduce recidivism and return men and women to productive lives in society -- this bill covers a very broad swath.

"In brief summary, the bill totals $56.8 billion, an increase of about $5 billion from the fiscal year 2008 enacted level and over $3.1 billion over the budget request. While these figures may suggest that this Subcommittee was swimming in cash, I can assure you that it wasn't. Difficult decisions had to be made; trade-offs weighed. Holes had to be filled: the President's request was woefully inadequate in a number of critical areas. For example, the President proposed reductions of over $1.6 billion in state and local law enforcement grants. The mismanagement of the decennial Census -- the costs of which rise seemingly by the day and now require over $3.1 billion this fiscal year alone -- placed further stresses on our Subcommittee.

"The recommendation provides $26 billion for investments in science, technology and innovation, an increase of $1.7 billion over last year. Significant investments in this area and in science, math and engineering education are critical if this country is to remain competitive in today's global economy. The subcommittee recommendation provides $6.9 billion for the National Science Foundation; $17.8 billion for NASA. Increases above the request for NASA are spread nearly evenly between science and aeronautics. The bill includes $785 million for NIST, which restores proposed cuts to the manufacturing enhancement partnerships and the technology innovation program. As for climate change science -- which this Administration has reduced, marginalized and mischaracterized to the American people -- the bill provides nearly $1.9 billion, an increase of over $200 million over last year's level.

"Within the funds provided for climate data, the bill provides $74 million for restoring important climate sensors to several satellites - GOES-R and NPOESS. There is no doubt about the need and importance of satellites, but they are an expensive proposition. To that end, the bill includes direction to the OSTP to develop a plan for commercial purchase of weather, environmental and space weather data.

"With respect to law enforcement and other activities of the Department of Justice, the bill provides a total of $25.4 billion, an increase of $1.9 billion over last year. Full funding of $7.1 billion is recommended for the FBI; $1.9 billion for the DEA; and nearly $1.1 billion for the ATF.

"The Committee again rejects the Administration's decimation of the state and local grant programs and provides a total of over $3.1 billion. Again, it is an ill-conceived proposal to cut assistance to our state and local law enforcement partners at a time when the economy is fragile and recent statistics show disturbing trends in violent crime in many areas.

"In addition, the Committee recommends $5.7 billion for the Bureau of Prisons, which will help address critical shortfalls in corrections staffing, education and drug treatment; $113 million for Department-wide enhancements and new staffing for Adam Walsh and other child exploitation enforcement activities; and $68 million for methamphetamine enforcement. Lastly, I would like to highlight $185 million to begin to deploy interoperable law enforcement radio communications systems, identified by the 9/11 Commission as a critical shortfall in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"With respect to the Department of Commerce, a total of $8.7 billion is provided, of which $4.3 billion is slated for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $180 million above the President's request. And for Census -- the elephant in the room -- the bill includes the original request of $2.6 billion. The Administration submitted an amendment for an additional $540 million just the other day, too late for this Committee to consider it fully today. In my opinion, the Census Bureau, the Department of Commerce and the contractor should be embarrassed at the abysmal management of the decennial contract. Our government has a fiduciary responsibility to conduct an accurate count, upon which so many decisions are made, affecting congressional apportionments and the distribution of billions of dollars annually. I fear that the Bureau of Census is standing on the precipice of ruin, but it will not be for the lack of funds.

"The bill provides $390 million for the Legal Services Corporation, and $350 million for the EEOC."

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