Highlights on the Hill for this Week
March 26, 1997
- Unfortunately, last-minute holds on all pending nominations prevented Senate confirmation of nominees to the National Science Board last week. It is hoped that the Senate will quickly move to consider these nominations upon return from Easter recess.
- The House and Senate are in Easter recess until April 8th. While legislators are in their districts, work on the budget and appropriations continue: congressional staff use this time to prepare for the upcoming hearings and legislation. For example, after last week's budget meeting between congressional leaders and the President, it was agreed that budget negotiations would continue at the staff level during recess.
Last week, the House Science Committee released its Views and Estimates on the FY 1998 Budget calling for a 3% increase in funding for programs under the Committee's jurisdiction over the FY 97 level. In a major change from the acrimony that plagued the House Science Committee in the 105th Congress, the proposal was endorsed by a bipartisan group of Committee members, including Ranking Minority Member George Brown.
The views and estimates for funding of programs under the Committee's jurisdiction -- submitted to the Budget Committee as required under the Budget Act -- are seen as important starting points for discussions over S&T funding in the FY 1998 Budget.
Science Committee Chairman Sensenbrenner said in a statement that the Views and Estimates are "an attempt to prove support for the science and technology enterprise while maintaining our commitment to balancing the budget."
"The federal government has and should continue to play a vital role in promoting and supporting our scientific endeavors as a nation," the Chairman said. "I remain convinced that maintaining our nation's scientific base will return dividends to our knowledge and economy for many years to come."
More on the Budget
For those interested in analyzing the fate of S&T funding during federal budget negotiations, it is important to first look at the total for domestic discretionary spending contained in any budget proposal. Since budget proposals rarely contain great deals of detail about spending levels for individual programs -- and S&T funding is spread throughout the federal budget -- overall the domestic discretionary level is a key benchmark to best determine the direction of S&T funding in budget negotiations.