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Recent Congressional actions related to the NSF FY98 budget
The U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel published its report in April 1997, and its influence on U.S. antarctic policy is already apparent in Congressional actions related to the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget.
In the House Committee on Appropriations, the committee members, after reviewing the External Panel report, endorsed the conclusions reached by the panel and agreed with the principal recommendations. The Committee decided, however, that full funding for the AmundsenScott South Pole Station replacement and other improvements in Antarctica, rather than incremental funding, would lead to more efficient management of the refurbishment efforts. In the House version of the FY98 Veterans Administration (VA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill, which includes NSF's budget, $115 million was recommended for construction and refurbishment of facilities in Antarctica. When combined with program savings from logistics operations over the next 5 years, this amount will result in total funding of $145 million available for replacing the existing South Pole Station and infrastructure improvements at McMurdo and Palmer Stations.
On the other hand, in their mark-up of the budget, the Senate VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations committee members supported the External Panel recommendation to use the scaled-down version of a new station at the South Pole. Their FY98 budget backed the panel's recommendation that $25 million from this account be used to begin work on the replacement station. The committee also stated its intention to provide $90 million in additional funding over the next 4 fiscal years to complete the replacement station at the South Pole.
Final decision on funding will be made during the conference meeting between House and Senate representatives when Congress resumes its deliberations in September.
For the NSF budget request, see http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/bud/fy1998; for an NSF summary of House and Senate appropriations, see http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/congress/105updat.htm; and for an NSF fact sheet, see http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/media/fsfacil.htm.