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NSF Congressional Highlight
House Passes NSF Appropriations Bill; President Signs NSF Authorization

July 30, 1998

On July 16th, the House of Representatives began debate on the FY99 VA HUD appropriations bill. This is the bill that contains funding for NSF -- along with the Housing Department, EPA, NASA, the Veterans' Department, and numerous other federal agencies. The debate on the bill has taken place over the course of the last two weeks. On July 29th the House completed its consideration of and passed the bill. During this debate, NSF had three separate challenges to overcome -- each which had the ability to significantly reduce the funding recommendations for NSF in the bill as report out by the Committee on Appropriations.

First, when the House began its debate on this bill back on July 16th it took a very rare and unusual step and amended the rule -- on the floor -- for this appropriations bill. That action turned out to be of significant importance and benefit to NSF. The amended rule ultimately protected a key section in the bill, sponsored by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Rep. Mark Neumann (R-WI), which raised the limit for FHA loans while at the same time added $70M to NSF's research and related activities account and $10M to veterans' medical research. Without this "protection", this provision -- and the additional research resources -- could have been eliminated from the bill for violating House rules regarding legislation on an appropriations bill.

Then on July 23rd, the House of Representatives resumed its debate on the FY99 VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill. At that time, the second challenge to the NSF portion of the bill was successfully met. An amendment was discussed by Representative Bruce Vento (D-MN) which would have reduced NSF by over $100M so that funds could be added to an emergency food and shelter program. In the end, Rep. Vento decided to withdraw this amendment after talking about it with Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Lewis.

Finally, on July 29th, the House once again resumed its debate on the VA HUD appropriations bill. At that time, an amendment was offered by Representative Mark Sanford (R-SC) which sought to reduce NSF's research budget by a total of $270 million based on a perception that some NSF awards were frivolous or were in areas that might be more appropriately supported by non-federal parties. During the debate on this amendment, Representatives Sherwood Boehlert, Vern Ehlers, George Brown, Debbie Stabenow, and Chairman Jerry Lewis all spoke against the amendment. In the end, the amendment was defeated on a voice vote.

The Senate completed action on its version of the VA HUD bill on July 17th. We expect the appropriations conference concerning the VA HUD appropriations bill will take place once the Congress has returned from its August recess. The table below summarizes the status of the FY 1999 NSF budget.

In other news, earlier today the President signed into law H.R. 1273, the NSF Authorization Act of 1998.

Account

FY98

Request

Authorization

House

Senate

RRA

2546

2847

2847

2815

2725

EHR

633

683

683

643

683

MRE

109

94

94

90

94

S&E

137

144

144

144

137

OIG

5

5

5

5

5

Total

3429

3773

3773

3697

3644

RRA -- Research and related activities
EHR -- Education and human resources
MRE -- Major research equipment
S&E -- Salaries and expenses
OIG -- Office of Inspector General

See also:

 

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