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NSF Congressional Highlight

Senate Approves Bipartisan NSF Authorization Bill with Vote of 99-0

May 13, 1998

On Tuesday, May 12, 1998, the Senate passed a three-year NSF authorization bill, a step that clears the way for House action on the same legislation.

During yesterday's brief debate, Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee Chairman James Jeffords (R-VT) and Ranking Member Edward Kennedy (D-MA) each noted the historic bipartisan support that NSF has enjoyed throughout its history. Senator Jeffords stated that "the strong bipartisan support which NSF enjoys is a reflection of its historic contribution to both our national security and our economic competitiveness."

After the debate, Senator Jeffords introduced an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 1273, the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 1998. The Jeffords amendment in the nature of a substitute was approved by a vote of 99-0.

The House had passed an earlier version of H.R. 1273 during the last session of the 105th Congress. However, the Senate-passed version was the subject of earlier negotiations between members of the House and the Senate. Therefore it is anticipated that the House will soon pass the Senate version of H.R. 1273. This action would clear the bill for the President's signature. If passed by the House and signed by the President as expected, this bill would be the first NSF authorization bill passed into law since 1989, when Congress vowed to double the NSF budget in 5 years.

The Senate-passed version of H.R. 1273 authorizes more than $11 billion for research education activities at NSF over the next three years--$3.5 billion in fiscal year 1998, $3.7 billion in fiscal year 1999, and nearly $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2000.

The new version of the H.R. 1273 also is notable for several reasons -- the bill:

  1. contains authorization levels for FY 1999 and FY 2000 that are consistent with the President's budget request;
  2. codifies the same core strategies for NSF as are set out in NSF's Strategic Plan; and
  3. specifically authorizes $23 million in FY 1998 and $25 million in FY 1999 and 2000 for NSF's participation in the President's Next Generation Internet program;
  4. specifically authorizes $1 million in FY 98 and $2 million in FY 99 and '00 for the U.S./Mexico Foundation for Science.

The bill also requires several reports be submitted to Congress:

  1. an annual plan for proposed upgrades of National Research Facilities supported by NSF;
  2. an annual report on NSF compliance with Executive Order 12999 concerning the donation of educationally useful Federal equipment to schools in order to enhance science and mathematics;
  3. a report on Reservist Education Issues to be conducted with OSTP; and
  4. a report by OSTP on Indirect Cost issues.

H.R. 1273 also:

  1. imposes the same financial disclosure requirements on temporary employees of the Foundation - including IPA's - as permanent NSF employees;
  2. changes the name of the Critical Technologies Institute to the Science and Technology Policy Institute;
  3. expresses the sense of Congress that NSF should give high priority to addressing the Year 2000 problem as it relates to NSF operations; and
  4. makes certain administrative amendments proposed by the Foundation.

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