NSF Congressional Highlight
Congress Returns After Recess
July 9, 1999
Congress returns to work on Monday, July 12th after
a week-long Fourth of July recess. The House will
consider legislation under the suspension calendar
on Monday and then return to work on FY 2000 Interior
and Military Construction appropriations bills on
Tuesday and for the balance of the week. The Senate
will begin the week by considering Patient's Bill
of Rights legislation.
The prospects for the VA/HUD and Independent Agencies
appropriation remain unclear. Currently, the House
and the Senate VA/HUD subcommittees have allocations
that are well below last year's level. Both subcommittees
have been reluctant to mark up with such a dismal
allocation because they fear they can't get these
bills through the House or Senate floor.
Almost everyone familiar with the budget process acknowledges
that the VA/HUD and Labor-HHS appropriations bills
cannot pass with their current allocation levels.
However, obtaining more funding for the VA/HUD and
Labor HHS bills will be difficult. Increasing the
subcommittee allocations will likely require reopening
the FY 2000 budget resolutions passed earlier this
spring which contain the strict spending caps set
out in the bipartisan budget agreement two years ago.
Congressional leaders have been reluctant to take
this step, especially without some agreement with
the administration over Social Security, Medicare
and tax cuts.
On the general subject of R&D funding, there have
been positive signs. First was the
High Technology Summit
, sponsored by the Joint Economic Committee. This
series of hearings featured prominent economic leaders
such as Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Federal
Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
On the legislative front, House Science Committee Chairman
Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 2086, the Networking
and Information Technology Research and Development
Act, a bipartisan bill that would authorize significant
increases in IT research by NSF and other agencies.
It is expected that a Senate version of an IT authorization
bill will be introduced in the near future.
Another important issue that has concerned many in
the science community is the controversial proposal
to allow the use of the Freedom of Information Act
to access scientific data collected through federal
It is expected that the Office of Management and Budget
will issue revised regulations on the use of FOIA
for accessing scientific data. This action follows
the earlier draft revisions to OMB Circular A-110,
first published on February 4.
At the same time, Rep. James T. Walsh (R-NY), Chairman
of the House VA/HUD subcommittee and VA/HUD member
Rep. David E. Price (D-NC) intend to offer an amendment
to the House Treasury and General Government Appropriations
Bill for FY 2000. This amendment would delay enforcement
of last year's provision directing OMB to issue regulations
allowing the use of FOIA to access scientific data
for one year. The Walsh/Price amendment would also
require a study of the issue.
There also will be a hearing on the implications of
use of FOIA to access scientific data in the House
Government Management, Information and Technology
Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Steve Horn (R-CA). This
hearing is tentatively scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on
Thursday, July 15.