AIP FYI #38: Science Committee Republicans and Democrats Differ on FY 2007 Request

Status Report From: American Institute of Physics
Posted: Friday, March 17, 2006

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News Number 38: March 17, 2006

Science Committee Republicans and Democrats Differ on FY 2007

House Science Committee Republicans and Democrats have parted ways in their reaction to President Bush's FY 2007 request for science and technology. Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and all but two of his Republican colleagues endorsed a generally favorable 15-page critique of the Administration's budget entitled, "Views and Estimates, Committee on Science, FY 2007." The tone of this document contrasts considerably with the 3-page "Democratic Views and Estimates on the Budget for Civilian Science and Technology Programs, Fiscal Year 2007." Approved by Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) and his colleagues, this document states, "We find the priorities in the budget request amount to little more than sleight of hand - taking from one pocket and putting into another and calling that shift an increase." It is of note that last year the Science Committee's Republicans and Democrats approved a single "Views and Estimates" written by the Majority staff that criticized the S&T budget request.

Non binding "Views and Estimates" inform subsequent policy and budget deliberations. Both documents show evidence of careful analysis by committee staff and are usually the first written congressional document(s) responding to an Administration budget request. They are worthy of a complete reading and can be accessed at (Republican) and (Democratic). The longer Republican report is organized by agencies beginning on page 3. The Democratic version is much shorter and does not cover every agency, but makes some hard-hitting points. Selections from both documents follow. Note that extensive text (6 pages) follows; readers should use capitalized headers to locate topics of particular interest.


Republican Views and Estimates:

"In the second session of the 109th Congress, the Science Committee's top priority will be to see that the appropriations required to carry out the President's American Competitiveness Initiative are enacted. To the extent that authorizing legislation is required to support and guide appropriations related to the initiative, the Committee will move such legislation."


Republican Views and Estimates:

"The Committee strongly supports the American Competitiveness Initiative and the related Advanced Energy Initiative."

Democratic Views and Estimates:

"We find the budget request to be a complete contradiction to the recommendations of the nonpartisan expert recommendations of the Augustine Committee. We can support some of the President's initiatives, but not at the expense of deeper cuts in other important areas for innovation."


Republican Views and Estimates:

"The President proposes to spend $137.2 billion on R&D in FY07, about a 2.6 percent increase over FY06. The proposed R&D budget increases are heavily weighted toward development, which would receive a 7 percent increase, while basic research would receive a 1 percent increase, and applied research would decline by 7 percent."

Democratic Views and Estimates:

"Unfortunately, these initiatives are funded through cuts in other areas. For the American Competitiveness Initiative, the proposed $900 million increase at NSF, DOE, and NIST comes at the expense of other programs at those agencies and at the other Federal science agencies. In fact, despite the hoopla surrounding the President's FY2007 budget initiatives, the Federal Science and Technology request for FY2007 is $1 billion less than the Administration requested for FY2006. Comparing this year's request to last year's enacted levels, the overall Federal science and technology budget across the government would drop by one percent.

"So while the Administration says the right words about helping America invest in those areas that will help America grow, the reality is that the request contradicts the recommendation of the National Academies panel - both because it boosts some science at the expense of other science, and because the net consequence of this budget is that we would be disinvesting rather than investing in science and technology.

"We find it impossible to see how less science and technology research investment would help to increase - or even sustain - America's rapidly dwindling competitive edge. This budget request would invest less than the rate of inflation at a time when many of our international competitors are increasing their investment in science and technology at faster rates than ever before."

"[T]he Majority's uncritical support for the President's Competitiveness proposal, with all the loss that lies behind the selected program increases, makes it impossible to support the Republican Views and Estimates. Thus we file these dissenting views."


Republican Views and Estimates:

"The Administration's budget highlights five 'multi-agency R&D priorities' and provides a precise budget breakdown for three of them-nanotechnology, climate change science, and networking and information technology. The Committee strongly endorses these initiatives, and agrees that they deserve priority in funding."


Republican Views and Estimates:

"The Committee remains concerned about the balance between short- and long-term research programs at DHS. There is increasing emphasis on development to meet near-term requirements and diminishing funding directed at more basic research. Such research is needed to ensure that the nation is adequately prepared for future threats and that the nation has a cadre of S&T professionals with appropriate training."


Republican Views and Estimates:

"The Committee strongly endorses the Administration for its support of the Office of Science as part of the American Competitiveness Initiative. The Administration meets the levels authorized for the Office of Science in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) with its request of $4.1 billion for FY07, a 14 percent increase over FY06. This $505 million increase is 50 percent larger than the largest increase requested for the Office of Science in the preceding decade. The Committee believes the FY07 request will restore to health the Office of Science, an office which provides more than 40 percent of Federal support for basic research in the physical sciences. The Administration's out year commitment to provide annual increases averaging roughly 7 percent over the next 10 years will enable dramatic advances in the cutting-edge research underpinning our economic competitiveness and national security.

"Using the funding requested for FY07, the Office of Science will be able to operate its suite of scientific user facilities on average 96 percent of their optimal number of operating hours, up from 88 percent in FY06. For Nuclear Physics, the improvement is dramatic - facilities will be able to operate at 84 percent of optimum compared to 50 percent in FY06. DOE's neutron sources and x-ray light sources will have the resources necessary to modernize beam lines and other high-tech instrumentation, considerably improving the scientific productivity of these sources. Just as significantly, the FY07 request allows the Office of Science to bring on line the new Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and four of five Nanoscale Science Research Centers. The Committee enthusiastically supports the FY07 funding levels that allow the Office of Science to re-instrument and maximize operations of its growing suite of scientific user facilities. The Committee believes these facility operations are one of the primary benefits the Office of Science provides to the researchers at universities, in industry, and in government labs across the nation.

"The request also allows the Office of Science to seize scientific opportunities by implementing key components of its 20-year facilities plan. The request includes $60 million for FY07 in the Fusion Energy Sciences program for ITER, the plan's top priority. Investments are made in leadership computing facilities at Oak Ridge and Argonne National Laboratories that significantly advance the plan's second-ranked priority to develop ultrascale scale scientific computing capabilities. An additional $20 million keeps project engineering and design (PED) funding on track for the Linac Coherent Light Source at Stanford, one of the third-ranked priorities in Science's facilities plan. The Committee believes that PED funding for National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS II), an upgrade to the existing light source at Brookhaven National Laboratory, is a nationally important investment.

"The Committee is disappointed, however, that the budget requests neither construction funding, nor PED funding, nor even R&D funding for the Rare Isotope Accelerator (RIA), a nuclear physics facility accorded high priority in the early period of the 20-year facilities plan. The budget does continue to request $4 million for exotic beam R&D, which are the capabilities RIA or a RIA-like machine would deliver. In light of the lack of PED funding for RIA, it is difficult to see how the Administration will be able to meet its obligation under section 981 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to commence construction of the facility no later than September 30, 2008.

"Finally, the Committee notes with pleasure the balance struck between support for researchers (45 percent) and the operation of national scientific user facilities (38 percent). For example, major increases in research support are seen in university-based nuclear physics, which is up by 17 percent; the development of advanced computing software, which is up by 51 percent; and nanotechnology research, which is up by 62 percent. Funding within the Office of Science for the President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative increases 54 percent to $50 million. The Committee is concerned that climate change research is reduced $6.6 million, including reductions to ocean carbon sequestration research (cut by $4.9 million) and climate modeling (cut by $1.5 million)."


Republican Views and Estimates:

"In Nuclear Energy, the Committee applauds the increase in funding, much of which will go toward the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative. The Committee is concerned, however, that the underlying simultaneous commitments to several new project starts - the sodium-cooled fast reactor, the high-temperature gas reactor, and the demonstration-scale nuclear fuel reprocessing plant - all require large out year commitments of funds. Therefore, the Committee especially applauds the Administration's commitment to conduct a comprehensive and rigorous systems analysis of the advanced fuel cycle and its associated research facility needs. The Committee is also concerned with the proposal to eliminate University Reactor Infrastructure and Education Assistance, especially in light of the recent announcement of the President's American Competitiveness Initiative. The university funding has provided crucial support to a new generation of nuclear science and engineering students who will help continue U.S. advancements in nuclear energy and security."


Republican Views and Estimates:

"The budget request includes $467 million for the core NIST laboratory programs and facilities as part of the President's American Competitiveness Initiative. This increase includes $72 million for new research initiatives and enhancements to NIST's user facilities, an 18 percent increase over FY06. The Committee enthusiastically supports this request, as it represents a significant and sensible investment in programs that keep the U.S. at the forefront of economically important emerging technologies.

"The Committee also strongly supports the budget request of $68 million for NIST's construction account."

"The Committee continues to support the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and is concerned that the Administration has again requested no funds for the program and is seeking to terminate the program. The Committee is concerned that terminating ATP would reduce the NIST laboratory budget since 10 percent of ATP funds, $8 to $13 million a year, was spent inside NIST.

"The Committee is disappointed that the Administration has requested only $46 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. This would cut the program by 56 percent from the $106 million appropriated in FY06, leaving the national network of Centers with insufficient funding to maintain their assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturing firms. MEP has demonstrated its effectiveness as the only program (private or public) that offers direct technical assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturers."

Democratic Views and Estimates:

"From our point of view, competitiveness is about keeping good jobs and creating even more and better jobs in this country. Yet, the Administration proposed to cut Manufacturing Extension Partnership funding by 56%. MEP is the only Federal program designed specifically to assist small manufacturers. MEP is the only program with a proven track record in creating and retaining manufacturing jobs right now. We have lost 2.8 million manufacturing jobs since 2001. This last year alone, we lost another 55,000 manufacturing jobs.

"Knowing these facts, we just don't see how cutting MEP 56%, and NIST overall by 23%, increases American competitiveness. The bipartisan National Association of Governors, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers - and many others - wholeheartedly endorse MEP. Yet, this Administration again chooses to ignore this consensus support."


Republican Views and Estimates:

"As part of the American Competitiveness Initiative, the FY07 budget request for NSF is $6.02 billion, an increase of7.9 percent, or $439 million over the FY06 level. The funding increase in the FY07 budget mainly goes to scientific research programs and research facilities and is spread fairly evenly among all fields NSF supports, including engineering, non-biomedical life sciences, physics, and geosciences. The Committee strongly endorses the proposed overall budget level proposed for NSF, while acknowledging that even with that healthy increase, funding will lag behind the levels authorized in the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 (P.L. 107 -368).

"While the Committee is pleased to see funding increases across all NSF research fields, it is deeply troubled by the modest 2.5 percent increase for NSF's Education and Human Resources (EHR) directorate, given the President's emphasis on math and science education in the American Competitiveness Initiative. Since 1950, NSF has been tasked with strengthening math and science education programs at all levels, and NSF's education programs are unique in their peer review processes, their linkage to higher education and their resulting capacity to develop new and improved materials and assessments, create better teacher training techniques and move promising ideas from research to practice. The budget request of $816 million for NSF Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate for FY07 allows for only about inflationary growth over FY06 and does little to restore the significant funding reductions that have occurred since FY04. In addition, within EHR, funding for elementary, secondary and informal education programs and research and evaluation activities would continue to decline. The Committee recommends that NSF EHR receive at least $913 million in FY07, with particular emphasis on increasing funding for the new Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program; the Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement program, and the Math and Science Partnership program."

Democratic Views and Estimates:

"While we were pleased to see the Administration putting forth a plan to follow through on their commitment to double NSF funding, the Administration is four years behind on that commitment and $3.8 billion, or 39%, short of the goal. In 2002, the Congress passed, and the President signed into law, an authorization bill doubling NSF funding over five years. However, the President's requests for NSF since the NSF doubling signing ceremony had been anemic until this, the FY2007 budget request.

"As a result, even with the FY2007 proposed increase, the NSF budget is still below the 15% annual rate of increase needed to meet the five-year doubling profile called for in the NSF authorization statute. In fact, the President's plan for NSF does not guarantee a doubling even in ten years. All that the American Competitiveness Initiative promises is that we will see the combination of NSF, DOE basic research and NIST cumulatively double in ten years, without committing to the distribution among those agencies. NSF - really all three agencies - deserve guidance clearer than this as they plan for future investments.

"We were very disappointed to see a continued de-emphasis of K-12 science education at NSF. Even as the NSF budget grows overall, the Administration proposes a seven percent cut to K-12 programs. NSF has been a leader in improving science and math education for over 50 years. We do not understand how ignoring NSF's expertise in the education component of the President's initiative helps competitiveness.

"Relative to the FY2004 funded level, the NSF FY2007 science education request would represent a 37% decline. One of this nation's highest priorities should be to increase America's talent pool by vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education. Cutting funding to NSF K-12 programs undercuts this important goal."


Republican Views and Estimates:

"The five-year budget projection for the Space Shuttle program is designed to fully fund the Shuttle through its retirement, making up for a shortfall in previous projections. Taking into account program transfers, the FY07 budget increases funding for the Space Shuttle by $2.2 billion through 2010 and for the Space Station by $1.5 billion.

"Restoring funding for the Shuttle and Station accounts has come at the cost of slowed growth in NASA's other program areas. The Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, which oversees the Vision for Space Exploration, will receive $2 billion less through 2010, and NASA has replaced significant projected growth in the FY06 request for the Science Directorate with annual growth of 1.5 percent in FY07 and 1 percent thereafter, less than the projected rate of inflation.

"The significantly reduced growth of the Science Directorate is of serious concern to the Committee. These reductions will necessitate the cancellation or lengthy deferral of several planned earth science and space science missions.

"In FY07, the request increases the amount available for Exploration by $928 million compared to last year's appropriated level. This funding is focused on developing the next-generation hardware to replace the Shuttle, the Crew Exploration Vehicle and its launcher. NASA expects to award contracts for the new vehicle at the end of FY06. The request reduces the amounts available for other, longer-term activities within the Science Directorate.

"The Committee is again concerned about the limited funding for NASA's Aeronautics program. The budget cuts the program by 18.1 %, down to $724.4 million. Reductions of this size may jeopardize NASA's ability to retain critical skills and perform ground-breaking research in support of this nationally important industry."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
The American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095

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