House Floor Debate on HR 4194, Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 1999 (House of Representatives - July 29, 1998)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 501 and rule XXIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 4194.
IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill (H.R. 4194) making appropriations for the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and for sundry independent agencies, boards, commissions, corporations, and offices for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1999, with Mr.Combest in the chair.
AMENDMENT NO. 26 OFFERED BY MR. ROYCE
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment No. 26 offered by Mr. Royce: page 76, line 24 strike '2,745,000,000' and insert '2,545,700,000.'
Page 90, line 18 strike ', and $70,000,000 is appropriated to the National Science Foundation, 'Research and related activities'.' and insert '.'
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this amendment. It will merely freeze grant research funding at the same amount that was appropriated last year. There is no cut in the amendment. Our concern is with some of the grants; do we really think it is a good idea to take $176,000 from working families so that we can figure out the different meaning of smiles, and that was one of the grants.
Mr. Chairman, we have a responsibility to the American people to see that their tax money is being spent wisely. Asking them to dip just a little further into their pockets to pay $178,000 for a study on maintaining self-esteem does not fulfill that responsibility.
During debate on this bill last year, an amendment was adopted that struck $174,000 from the National Science Foundation because of previous inappropriate grant making. As I understand it, this was meant as a demonstration to NSF that they should take greater care of taxpayer money. Given some of the recent grants that it has doled out since that time, it seems that they have not taken heed of that action.
Another recent grant for $220,000 was handed over to a researcher for a study entitled "Status Dominance and Motivational Effects on Nonverbal Sensitivity and Smiling." I will submit my finding for free. Spending that much hard-earned money on sensitivity and smiling will wipe the smiles off the taxpayers' faces and make them pretty darn insensitive.
Another researcher was given over $476,000 for his study. For this amount he would perform a manufacturing analysis of coffee makers related to the grammar rules and the grammar itself which will be implemented.
Now, as we go down these grants, one enterprising researcher has received over $29 million since 1992 in nine different grants. From all indications, the bureaucrats have been busy shoveling out the door in the name of science to make sure we do not slide back into the dark ages. For example, research into the sex selection and evolution of horns in the dung beetle, $331,000 for the study of nitrogen excretion in fish, $113,000 for research into the agenda effects on group decisions.
I could go on, but our current agenda calls for a group decision. Two hundred twenty-eight years ago, when the Founding Fathers gathered in Philadelphia, they did not declare our independence so that the new government could tax American citizens and hand out $25,000 to study microwave methods for lower fat patties in meatballs.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, the poet Alexander Pope remarked centuries ago that a little learning is a dangerous thing. This amendment is a good example of that principle.
First of all, the Dear Colleague letters about this amendment have cited several NSF project titles that have been grossly misinterpreted. For example, grants researching asynchronous transfer mode, which is a computer technology known as ATM, were misconstrued as research on automated teller machines. Grants concerning billiards were thought to be about the game of pool when actually they concern abstruse matters in high-energy physics. The only trouble we have right here in River City is with this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment is a product of faulty research.
Now I would never claim that the National Science Foundation has never given out a misguided grant or that their grants should not be opened to congressional scrutiny, but as the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Science I am quite familiar with NSF operations, and I have helped oversee them for 15 years. And I can attest that the National Science Foundation is a model agency that provides grants through a peer review process that is the envy of other institutions and other nations. As a result, the research it funds is of high quality and has provided enormous insights that have improved our understanding and our lives.
A little learning is a dangerous thing for a Nation as well as an individual, and NSF's work ensures that our Nation is never hobbled by inadequate learning.
Mr. Chairman, let us not make the mistake of judging a grant by its title. We should resoundingly vote down this amendment and demonstrate our continued support for the outstanding work performed by the National Science Foundation.
Mr. SANFORD. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment because it is a very simple amendment. This amendment simply freezes the research and related categories funding area of NSF at about $2.5 billion. It freezes at this year's level of spending.
The reason that this amendment is offered by Mr. Royce and myself and the reason supported by the National Taxpayers Union, the reason supporting it by Citizens against Government Waste is because it makes common sense.
It, in the whole, boils down to one very simple thought, and that is the issue of priorities. When I stand in front of a grocery store back home in my district and talk to folks, they talk about how they have to set priorities within their homes.
When they are given the choice between, let us say, the study of people's reaction to dirty jokes, specifically to sex and fart jokes, and cancer or diabetes research, they say that a study of sex and fart jokes is interesting, but not vital, and that they would rather see those same dollars go into cancer research or diabetes research.
On that same vain, again, this is simply an amendment about priorities. Again, it leaves in place $2.5 billion for funding for the National Science Foundation research. It simply says let us put our house in order.
I mean, the same folks that I talked to back home, they say, if they had to set no priorities, when they walked into Wal-Mart, they would essentially walk out of Wal-Mart with everything that is in the store. But they cannot do that. They have to set a budget. They have to set numbers. They come up with what they can spend overall.
So this amendment is simply a way of signaling to the National Science Foundation please look at those things. Because the gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis) himself last year offered an amendment that said there was a grant that, as I understand it, would have studied, for about $174,000, why some people choose to run for office or choose not to run for office. Again, interesting but not vital.
I think that we ought to look more at what is vital when we fund these grants. I have other examples that have come up in this year's list. An example is $334,000 to develop methods for routing pickup and delivery vehicles in realtime. Again, that has something that is interesting, but not vital. The part that is vital is vital to the likes of UPS or FedEx. If that is at the case, why can UPS or FedEx not pay for them?
It has $14,000 to study the long-term profitability of automobile leasing. Interesting, but not vital. The part that is vital is vital to Budget or Hertz. Why can they not pay for it?
It has $12,000 to cheap talk. It has $137,000 to study how legislative leaders help shape their parties issues outside the legislature particularly in the media. Interesting, but not vital.
I could come up with others, but I think the main point is quite simple. That is that the National Science Foundation in funding research needs to look at two things: One, a clear criteria that answers the question for the taxpayer, is this interesting or is it vital? And that it answers the question of, is it worth the cost? Because you can simply turn on the Internet and see that there is all kinds of information out there. The question before us, though, is not, is there information, but is it vital information?
Mr. EHLERS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to respond to the amendment and the comments just made. I would remind my colleague, the gentleman from South Carolina, that when his people come out of the store, my colleague might ask them what they think of the laser scanner that was used to get them out of the store more quickly and more efficiently, because development of the laser was financed in part by the National Science Foundation.
My colleague might ask, too, whether they enjoy the rapid delivery of their FedEx packages. Indeed, part of that research has been done by the National Science Foundation. My colleague suggested that FedEx should pay for it themselves, but, in fact, Federal Express developed into what it is today, because of the techniques resulting from such research, and the taxes that FedEx pays today far more than cover the cost of any research that was done which may have helped to develop the system.
My point is that the United States has a vibrant and booming economy today, especially compared to that of other nations, because we also have a booming and vital research enterprise in this Nation. There is a direct correlation between economic growth and the amount of money spent on research, and all of us should recognize that.
Let me also comment on a few other specifics because, as the gentleman from New York (Mr. Boehlert) said earlier, much of this debate arises out of a misunderstanding of the scientific terms used.
Some terms used in science which are similar to everyday language have totally different meanings when used scientifically. As an example, consider `billiards', which was referred to in one of the `Dear Colleagues' sent out by the sponsors of the amendment. Billiards we all understand is a game. But, in science, the word is used to describe a theory which originally was developed to explain the collisions and interaction between rigid objects, but today is used to describe collisions and trajectories of small objects, such as atoms, molecules and nuclei, within confined areas.
This is crucial to the study of air flow and turbulence around aircraft. In fact, a recent development was the discovery that ripples in the surface of an aircraft wing reduce turbulence substantially, resulting in fuel savings and cost savings.
It is interesting that you can now buy swimsuits that incorporate the same effect and will now allow for faster swimming in competition. That was not the intent of the research, but this is a by-product that is beneficial.
ATMs were criticized in one of the 'Dear Colleagues.' As used in science, that does not refer to 'automated teller machines,' where you withdraw money, but rather refers to 'asynchronous transfer modes,' which is today the most modern and most rapid method of transmitting information over the Internet or between computers in general. This is very beneficial to society, and allows sending more information for less money.
That brings us into the next item of criticism: that NSF spent $12,887 to study cheap talk. That is not referring to what you might in common parlance think of as 'cheap talk,' but rather refers to the cost of information transmitted over the Internet or used in commerce.
All of these are very beneficial grants. They have helped us. They have helped our economy and made us one of the strongest nations on this earth. It is hard to find a Federal agency that gives us as much for our money as the National Science Foundation, and it certainly does help our economy to a great extent. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I strongly urge the defeat of this amendment.
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Mr. BROWN of California asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, I know that it is not necessary to extend this discussion and that the comments made by our distinguished colleagues, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Ehlers) as well as the gentleman from New York (Mr. Boehlert), probably adequately deal with this subject. But having risen to debate it many times over the last 20 years, I would feel remiss if I did not stand up and say a few words.
Let me identify myself with the remarks already made by my two distinguished colleagues. Let me point out that this simple innocuous amendment is approximately a 10 percent cut in the amount of money that would otherwise go to this fine agency and is much more important than might be thought.
Let me say that I appreciate the close scrutiny being given to the research done at the National Science Foundation. That close scrutiny is healthy. I would not want to have it discouraged. For one thing, it gives those of us in close touch with N.S.F. research an opportunity to praise the work being done. It encourages others to take a closer look at the work of the National Science Foundation and to see if they cannot come to appreciate the value of that work.
I remember when we first started debating this subject of research grant titles one popular target was a grant titled 'The sex life of the Screw worm' a subject of great importance in Texas. Everybody thought they knew what sex life was about, and they could not understand why we needed to spend money researching it.
But, actually, as we pointed out many times, this innocuous piece of research has saved the cattle industry of Texas hundreds of times over what the cost of the actual research project was, because it involves the mode of reproduction of one of the pests that is of greatest importance to the Texas cattle industry, as I am sure the chairman of the committee well knows.
But this is merely one more example, to go along with the others that have already been mentioned, showing why one needs to look beyond the titles themselves to the content of the research in order to have some understanding of what its importance is.
Mr. Chairman, I urge all of the Members to follow the example of the author of this amendment and scrutinize these research projects very carefully. I think they will be highly enlightened if they do so, and will strongly oppose amendments such as the one before us.
Mr. FOLEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Mr. FOLEY asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. FOLEY. Mr. Chairman, let me just for a moment correct the record about the impression being left about the amendment of the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Sanford). It was just described as a 10 percent cut.
It always amazes me in this city of Washington, freezing expenditures at the current year's level is described as a cut. It was just mentioned we would see a 10 percent reduction in the amount of money spent on research. Correct the report. If the amendment of the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Sanford) is adopted, the committee and the National Science Foundation will be able to spend exactly what they spend this year.
Most families in America have not been able to allocate a 10 percent additional expenditure for next year's vacation or for the next year's food supply or for school uniforms, simply because they cannot project those types of dollars forward because they have to live in reality, they have to live with today's dollars.
I agree with the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Ehlers) that there are a number of important research projects that are done by the National Science Foundation, and I agree with him. I think we have developed some wonderful technology in this government through their efforts, and I generally support most of them.
What I am concerned about is its refusal to heed Congress' call to use better judgment in awarding grants even though we are proposing to increase its budget this year by $200 million.
One of my constituents, Bill Donnelly, recently contacted my office to complain that the National Science Foundation awarded a $107,000 grant to study dirty jokes. Although skeptical, I contacted the National Science Foundation for an explanation. To my dismay, not only did the National Science Foundation spend more than $100,000 to fund such a study but it attempted to justify the grant by saying that there is no accurate study as to why people laugh at certain offensive jokes.
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. FOLEY. I yield to the gentleman from California.
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, let me make clear that I did not say that the gentleman's amendment was a 10 percent cut in the NSF Budget. I said that his amendment was a 10% cut in the amount of money that would otherwise go to this fine agency. His amendment is $270 million below what the committee recommends, or $305 million below what the administration requested. It is actually a reduction in the amount of growth that has been projected, as we both understand.
Mr. FOLEY. I thank the gentleman for the clarification.
Mr. Chairman, obviously, the National Science Foundation does not get it. The U.S. taxpayer should not be funding research that has dubious scientific merit, at best. This is why we should support the Sanford amendment. We need to send a strong message not only to the National Science Foundation, folks, this is not just about one agency. This is about every agency that determines how to use its Federal dollars.
Now, I got a very nice letter back from the Office of the Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences trying to justify that this was a very important study. I still would ask my colleagues to ask every American taxpayer at home, do they think we should spend $107,000 to find out why people laugh at dirty jokes? I would say no.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, both the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Stokes) and I have prepared a very extensive response to this amendment but, frankly, because of the pressures of time and otherwise, let me suggest simply that the National Science Foundation is among the committee's and the Congress' very high priorities. We believe that the American government has played a very significant role in productive research efforts.
It is rather standard for critics of NSF often to pick a handful of examples of that which they would call excess, and usually those examples, while they have a title that can be used conveniently, do not reflect at all the specific project in terms of its detail.
These items funded by NSF come under very serious review. NSF relies on the judgment of over 60,000 independent reviewers, each of whom has expertise in his or her field. Depending on whether by mail or by panel reviews being used, each proposal is reviewed by an average of 4 to 11 experts and ranked on its scientific merit. As of this moment, approximately 1 in 3 proposals are eventually funded even though well over half are considered to have enough merit to deserve funding.
It is important for the Members to know that we support strongly this bill in its present form. It is very important that the Members oppose this amendment.
Mr. NEUMANN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
I rise in support of this amendment. I came here 4 years ago. We were $5 1/2 trillion in debt, $20,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States of America. When we got here, the deficit was over $200 billion a year.
We have come a long ways in this 3 years. We have gotten to a point where we are actually running surpluses for the first time since 1969. We saw a tax cut package passed last year for the first time in 16 years.
Then we get into the discussion about have we really done our job or do we have a long ways yet to go, and we start looking at lists of projects like some of these that are mentioned here and talking about 10 percent increases, and one almost gets this feeling, this tugging out here that, since now we are in surplus, we can start spending more of the taxpayers' money, and we had 10 percent increases in some areas.
The gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Sanford), my good friend, has proposed an amendment that does not decrease funding for this very important area but rather freezes it at last year's level. It simply brings it back into line.
Let us talk about some of the things that we have been funding and why it is that we would not want to see this kind of dramatic increase, much more of an increase than most of the households in my district are getting: Studying things like video on demand for popular videos; I am not sure that the people of Wisconsin would want to spend money on that study. Or why women smile more than men; I am not sure they would want to see money spent on that.
I am a former math teacher, and I taught everywhere from 7th grade on up through college courses. I find the study on the geometric applications to billiards to be of particular interest to me personally, because I was very interested in those sorts of things. And back in my math courses we did things like look at money growth and how it related to Social Security and how the interest rates impacted that. We did a lot of practical applications in our math courses, and this seems to be an area that a math professor from some place in the United States of America, or maybe a fine high school math teacher, or even a junior high math teacher might want to go out and start doing some of the studies that are involved with this.
But do I think I want to go into the households in Wisconsin's first district in Janesville, Wisconsin, or Kenosha or Racine and say to those families that we are going to take your tax dollars and use those tax dollars for purposes of doing a study on billiards? I do not so. I do not think that they would think that is a good use of tax dollars out here.
I think when we go through some of the rest of these we can see additional areas: Study cheap talk, $12,000 to study cheap talk. Long-term profitability of automobile leasing. This brings us to another area, long-term profitability of automobile leasing.
We are talking about corporations here, fine corporations that provide many jobs in the United States of America. The question that needs to be asked is, do we need the taxpayers' money to fund studies that are going to benefit these corporations?
I guess I keep coming back to the all-important question, and that question is, if I go to a family of five in my district that gets up every morning and goes to work and works hard and I ask them, do you want me to spend money on behalf of these automobile leasing organizations to find better ways and more efficient ways to lease cars, or do you think that that is a study that they should themselves initiate? Is it all right to take money out of your paycheck to pay for these sorts of things?
I keep coming back to the answer is no. The answer is just plain, flat-out no. We should not be spending money on some of these sorts of programs. And as important as research is in this country, we need to direct our research dollars to those areas that are going to benefit the Nation as a whole.
For that reason, I strongly support the Sanford amendment; and I would hope that my colleagues see the wisdom of going along with this sort of an amendment to this bill.
I would just like to commend the chairman on his hard work and the staff on their hard work on this bill because I think they have done a very, very fine job. There are some areas that perhaps some of our colleagues would disagree with, and this just happens to be one of them.
So I rise in strong support of the Sanford amendment.
Ms. STABENOW. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Ms. STABENOW asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)
Ms. STABENOW. Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the chairman and the ranking member of the subcommittee for their strong commitment to science, research and development in this country.
I rise today as someone representing middle Michigan where those middle-class families that have been discussed today are rising every day to go to work in jobs that have more and more technology involved in their employment. They rise to go to work in areas where they are dependent upon new research and developing technologies so that the jobs that they are working in are the best-paying jobs possible.
They care about the air and the water, and they want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to research ways to be able to clean up the air and the water and protect the environment through research areas that do not involve job loss but new technologies. They care very much about health research and the future for their children. They want us to be at the front end of the technology revolution that is happening all across the world.
In my opinion, there are two efforts critically important that we are engaged in nationally on behalf of Americans, and that is education and a focus on research and technology development for future jobs and future quality-of-life opportunities for our citizens.
The National Science Foundation is a small investment in a major effort to increase the quality of life for our citizens, and I would strongly urge a 'no' vote on this amendment.
Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, Representative Sanford has offered an amendment to freeze NSF's appropriations for research awards, giving as the reason NSF's support for questionable grant awards. He has referred to several grants which he claims supports his action.
Examination of the grants listed by Mr. Sanford indicate his assessment of the contents is based on title alone:
- ATM Research--This is not research on automated
teller machines. Actually, it is research on Asynchronous
Transfer Mode, a promising new network transmission
protocol to enable the creation of very high speed
- Social Poker--This refers not to a poker
game but to the development of a theory of how
individuals determine which of their resources
they are willing to put at risk in order to gain
the benefits of joining a group. This is basic
research that may help explain what it would take
to get a country to sign on to a treaty, or when
it is a rational decision for companies to merge.
- Routing Trucks--This is an extension of
what is known to mathematicians as the 'traveling
salesman problem.' This problem asks how to find
the shortest possible route to a given number
of cities without visiting one twice. The study
in question develops and tests powerful new mathematical
optimization algorithms. This subject has considerable
practical value. Transportation costs account
for 15% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, and
a major element of transportation involves the
routing and scheduling of fleets of trucks.
- Cheap Talk--Cheap talk refers to the cost
of information in an economic model. Generally
speaking, we must pay for information--in terms
of procuring expert advice, the cost of publications
or the time to gather data. The research explores
the implications for economic and decision models
when information is relatively inexpensive, such
as that made available on the Internet.
- Video on Demand--The underlying research
issues are related to using network protocols
to transmit real time video, which has enormous
data transmission requirements. These fundamental
questions require high-risk research that HBO
or Blockbuster are not likely to support. But
if the basic research is successful, service providers
and consumers (including those who may use real-time
video for distance learning or telemedicine) stand
to reap huge returns from the investment.
- Billiards--This research applies, not to
pool playing, but to a complex mathematical theory
of interest in geometry and physics. The scientific
use of the term 'billiards' originated over 100
years ago as a way of conceptualizing how atomic
particles carom off each other. Mathematicians
later on began to develop complex math theory,
known as Ergodtic Theory, that attempts to predict
the trajectory of idealized particles in confined
spaces. This research is important for understanding
many different types of non-linear or chaotic
systems, such as airflow around an airplane, leading
to an improved understanding of turbulence in
- Study of Jokes--This research at its core
is not about humor. Rather, it is involved with
the reasons for the perpetuation of inaccurate
stereotypes and the promulgation of racism, sexism,
and prejudice against people with disabilities
and other distinguishing characteristics. Humor
is used in the study as a research tool to investigate
the cognitive processes that accompany and determine
the interpretation of information conveyed in
a social context.
The proponent of the amendment has picked a handful of grants from the 10,000 or so that are funded each year by NSF and, on the basis of a title which is obscure or seems frivolous, proposes that the House freeze the research activities of the Foundation at last year's level.
This proposed amendment represents an effective cut of $270 million to the nation's basic research enterprise, which is largely carried out at colleges and universities throughout the country. It will result in 760 fewer research awards. It will mean NSF supports 5,000 fewer scientists and students.
The proposals funded by NSF have been subjected to a rigorous evaluation. They are chosen on the basis of merit through a competitive process: In a given year, NSF relies on the judgment of over 60,000 reviewers, each an expert in the field of a particular proposal. Each proposal is reviewed by between 4 and 11 experts, depending on whether a mail or panel review is used.
The proposals are ranked on the basis of scientific merit, as well as on the broader impacts of the proposed activity. Only one in three proposals is funded, although more than half are rated as sufficiently meritorious to deserve to be funded. The proposal selection process is rigorous, but not perfect. Efforts are made continually to improve the range of representation of reviewers and to sharpen the review criteria. But the system is widely respected by the scientific community, and constitutes the most effective method yet discovered to identify meritorious research proposals and to prioritize among worthy proposals.
The merit selection and prioritization process used by NSF has produced an academic research enterprise that is the envy of the world. The proposed amendment to freeze funding for NSF's research activities will result in harm to the nation's technological strength.
Investment in R&D is the single most important determinant of long-term economic growth. According to economists, about one half to two thirds of economic growth can be attributed to technological advances. Although difficult to measure, there is consensus that the economic payoff from basic research investments is substantial. The importance of basic research can be appreciated by considering the technological advancements that have grown out of past NSF-sponsored work:
- Internet--Over the past decade, NSF has
transformed the Internet from a tool used by a
handful of researchers at DOD to the backbone
of this Nation's university research infrastructure.
Today the Internet is on the verge of becoming
the Nation's commercial marketplace.
- Nanotechnology and 'Thin Film'--50 years
ago scientists developed the transistor and ushered
in the information revolution. Today 3 million
transistors can fit on a chip no larger than the
fingernail-sized individual transistor. NSF's
investment in nanotechnology & 'thin films'
are expected to generate a further 1,000 fold
reduction in size for semiconductor devices with
eventual cost-savings of a similar magnitude.
- Genetics--What is often overlooked is the
critical role played by NSF in supporting the
basic research that leads to the breakthroughs
of mapping the human genome for which NIH justly
receives credit. Research supported by NSF was
key to the development of the polymerase chain
reaction and a great deal of the technology used
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging--The development
of this technology was made possible by combining
information gained through the study of the spin
characteristics of basic matter, research in mathematics,
and high flux magnets. The Next Generation Nuclear
Magnetic Resonance Imager, currently under construction,
will allow for the identification of the 3-dimensional
structures of the 100,000 proteins whose genes
are being sequenced by the Human Genome Project.
- Buckeyballs--The discovery of buckeyballs,
a new form of carbon won for the researchers a
Nobel prize. Its discovery was the result of work
by astronomers. This in turn led to the discovery
of the carbon nanotube, which has been found to
be 100 times stronger than steel and a fraction
of the weight. Nanotubes may produce cars weighing
no more than 100 pounds.
- Plant Genome--Research into the genome
of a flower plant with no previous commercial
value (Arabidopsis thaliana) led to the discovery
of ways to increase crop yields, production of
plants with seeds having lower polyunsaturated
fats and to the development of crops that produce
a biodegradable plastic.
- Artificial Retina--Researchers at NC State
have designed a computer chip that may pave the
way for creation of an artificial retina. Problems
with bio-compatibility have been solved by researchers
at Stanford who developed a synthetic cell membrane
that adheres to both living cells and silicon
- CD Players--CD players rely on data compression
algorithms that were developed using a NSF grant.
These algorithms were first used in the transmission
of satellite data and now provide the foundation
for new developments in data storage.
- Jet Printers--The mathematical equations
that describe the behavior of fluid under pressure
provided the foundation for developing the ink
- Camcorders--Virtually all camcorders and
electronic devices using electronic imaging sensors
are based on charge-coupled devices. These devices,
sensitive to a single photon of light, were developed
and transformed by astronomers interested in maximizing
their capacity for light gathering.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman. I rise to speak against the Sanford amendment to reduce the National Science Foundation by $269 million.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) provides this Nation with the tools to remain a superpower in a world where technology remains supreme. It helps develop new technologies, not only on its own, but also through its partnerships with other government agencies, like NASA, and with private institutions.
The NSF is largely responsible for many of the scientific breakthroughs that we currently enjoy in this country. In fact, many of our more important scientific achievements started either with an experiment in a NSF lab, or with a NSF grant to a university or private corporation.
We cannot expect our chldren to be prepared for the next millennium if they do not have the right equipment to learn on. Ladies and gentlemen, trying to teach children computer science without the benefit of a computer is like trying to teach English to children without books--utterly impossible.
We must do our part to ensure that our children have the opportunity to learn, especially in the areas of math in science. This year in the House Science Committee, we have heard a myriad of testimony during hearings regarding the under-education of our youth in the hard sciences. It has gotten to the point that the media fails to report scientific breakthroughs, not because of lack of public interest, but often because they do not feel that the general public will understand the scientific achievement and what it means to them. That is shameful. If this Nation intends to remain a world leader, we must do our part to educate our children in the ways of the future.
Here in Congress, we have worked long and hard to rectify this problem. We have sought to increase funding for education. We have tried to provide targeted discounts to schools and libraries so that they can get on the Internet. Those initiatives are controversial, but this provision is not. Its costs are low, and its benefits high.
The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce).
The amendment was rejected.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there further amendments to this portion of the bill?
The Clerk will read.
The Clerk read as follows:
MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT
For necessary expenses of major construction projects pursuant to the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, $90,000,000, to remain available until expended.
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I do so for the purposes of having a brief colloquy with the chairman of the subcommittee with regard to an item of funding in the National Science Foundation. I understand that the chairman is aware of the important work done by the RAND Corporation's Radius program, which was established at the direction of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. This program provides a unique asset for tracking all Federal spending on R&D and should prove a very useful tool to those of us in Congress who are looking for ways to do more with the limited dollars we have.
In past years, the Federal share of funding for Radius has come from the National Science Foundation. It is my understanding that the Chair would support NSF's providing $1.5 million in funding for Radius services during fiscal year 1999. Is that correct?
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. BROWN of California. I yield to the gentleman from California.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Yes, Mr. Chairman, my colleague is correct. I am familiar with the Radius program, and I am very impressed by this unique tool. I believe it is in the best interest of the Federal Government to continue to support the further development of Radius and would look favorably upon NSF providing $1.5 million in fiscal year 1999 towards that end. I will work in the conference to include the language that makes this clear.
Mr. BROWN of California. Mr. Chairman, as usual, I want to thank my friend for his kind words and his support for this program.