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NSF Congressional Highlight
VA HUD & Independent Agencies Appropriations Act Signed Into Law by the President Today

September 26, 1996

Also: Antarctic Bill Passed by Congress

In a White House Rose Garden signing ceremony that took place earlier today, the President signed into law the VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act for FY 1997. The signing ceremony was used largely to highlight a provision in the act that guarantees women a 48-hour hospital stay after childbirth. This particular provision grew out of public complaints about health care plans that forced new mothers to leave the hospital as soon as 10 hours after a normal delivery.

In addition to the "Newborns' and Mothers' Protection Act," this bill also provides full year funding for the Veterans' Department, the Housing and Urban Development Department, NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, NSF, and a number of other federal agencies.

For NSF, the act appropriates a total of $3.270 billion, an amount that is $50 million, or about 2%, over the FY 1996 level. For research and related activities, the act provides the Senate's recommendation of $2.432 billion which is $118 million -- or 5.1% over the FY 1996 level. The appropriation for research and related activities includes $50 million for large-scale academic research instrumentation. Also available in this appropriation account is $1.4 million as a contingency to meet tariff requirements associated with the Gemini telescope project.

The education and human resources activity is funded at $619 million -- an amount equal to the budget request. This is $7 million above the House recommendation and $5 million below the Senate's recommendation. Within the agreed upon funding level, House and Senate conferees made the following changes to the education budget request: +$10 million for informal science education to be used in conjunction with overall systemic reform efforts; +$2.5 million for EPSCoR; -$2 million from graduate programs; -$5 million from undergraduate programs; -$2.5 million from precollege curriculum development; and -$3 million from research, evaluation, and communications.

The major research equipment (MRE) activity, which supports the construction of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) and South Pole Station Safety project, is funded at $80 million. The MRE appropriation is sufficient to keep these two important projects on schedule. The conferees agreed to fund NSF's salaries and expenses account at the Senate level of $134 million. This amount is equal to the NSF request for FY 1997 and averts the staffing and operational disruptions that could have occurred under the House passed level for this account. The Office of Inspector General is to be funded at $4.69 million, which is identical to the budget request.

The final version of the act does not include a provision which was included in the House bill that would have put restrictions on the use of funds regarding the procurement of a supercomputer.

NSF
Acct

FY95
Level

FY96
Level

FY97
Req

FY97
H Auth

FY97
H Appr*

FY97
S Appr

FY
C Cap

RRA

2245

2314

2472

2380

2431*

2432

2432

EHR

606

599

619

600

612*

624

619

ARI

118

100

0

100

0

0

0

MRE

126

70

95

80

80*

80

80

S&E/REL

129

132

134

125

125*

134

134

OIG

4

5

5

5

5*

5

5

Total

3227

3220

3325

3290

3253*

3275

3270

*The House bill included a general provision which contained a .4% across the board reduction for most accounts in this bill, including the NSF accounts. However, the final bill, as signed into law, does not include such an across the board reduction.

RRA -- Research and Related Activities
EHR -- Education and Human Resources
ARI -- Academic Research Infrastructure
MRE -- Major Research Equipment
S&E -- Salaries and Expenses
REL -- Relocation
OIG -- Office of Inspector General

Related information:

Text of the NSF Section of the House Appropriation Report for FY 97.
Text of the NSF Section of the Senate Appropriation Report for FY 97.
Text of the NSF Section of the Conference Appropriation Report for FY 97.

ANTARCTIC BILL PASSED BY CONGRESS

New Legislation Will Ensure Protection of the Antarctic Environment and Safeguard Scientific Discovery

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 3060 on September 11, completing a bill to implement the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. The United States, along with the other 25 consultative nations to the Antarctic Treaty, signed the protocol and five annexes in October, 1991. The Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification in October 1992, and the Administration and Congress have been working since then to develop legislation to implement the protocol.

HR 3060 provides clear authority to implement the protocol's environmental impact assessment procedures for Antarctic activities. It also conserves flora and fauna, addresses waste management and disposal, and has provisions for area protection and management.

"We are very pleased with the passage of H.R. 3060," said Cornelius Sullivan, director of the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs. "The bill protects the environment of Antarctica, safeguards scientists' ability to carry out their studies of this natural laboratory, and promotes the principle of responsible stewardship for those who travel to this unique place on Earth."

"We're pleased with the leadership of the House Science Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee in developing and actively supporting this legislation," said Joel Widder, deputy director for legislative and public affairs at the National Science Foundation.

Although the U.S. Antarctic Program already complies with the bill's environmental provisions, the bill's passage and signing by the President will lend the force of law to such protection, and designate specific responsibilities for federal agencies to enforce the protocol.

All 26 consultative nations must ratify the protocol to put it into force. The U.S. passage of enforcing legislation is expected to spur the remaining non-ratifying nations -- Belgium, Finland, India, Japan, and Russia -- to action.

See also:

 

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