Hall Expresses Disappointment in NSF, NASA Funding Levels for 2001
On Wednesday, the House adopted H.R. 4635, the Veterans, Housing and Independent Agencies Appropriation. This bill is important to the science community because it provides funding for both the National Science Foundation and National Aeronautics and Space Administration for FY2001. NSF was appropriated $508 million less than requested by the agency while NASA's appropriation fell short by $322 million.
Ralph M. Hall (D-TX), ranking Democrat on the Science Committee, voted against the bill based on its failure to adequately fund NASA and NSF. "I am disappointed with the allocations made to these two important agencies," Hall said. "The cuts at NSF will damage undergraduate science education and lead to 4000 fewer research grants that would have supported 18,000 researchers, teachers and students. I am particularly concerned about the cuts in information technology research, which remains the cornerstone of the new economy."
"The cuts at NASA are concentrated in the space launch initiative to develop the next generation of launch vehicles," Hall added. "Neither set of cuts makes any sense in a time of economic prosperity. During an economic boom, we should be making investments in our Nation's future - not cutting corners."
Specifically, the bill reduces the agencies' requests in the following areas:
- NSF's research programs receive $404 million less than requested;
- Major Research Equipment at NSF receives $62 million less than requested, including the loss of $45 million for a second terascale computer facility;
- Adding the information technology research account cuts to the terascale computing cut shows that advanced IT research falls $154 million short of the request;
- NSF's science and math education programs receive $35 million less than requested;
- NASA's "Living With a Star" program is unfunded in this bill, though it would provide more accurate predictions regarding solar storm activities and their effects on satellite systems;
- The Aviation System Capacity program, which is designed to help eliminate aviation congestion, is reduced by $49 million; and
- The Space Launch Initiative at NASA is reduced by $290 million.
"I had hoped that the House would have allowed amendments by Mr. Mollohan (D-WV) and Mr. Holt (D-NJ) to fully fund programs at NASA and NSF, respectively," Hall stated. "I was prepared to support them because I believe in the work of these agencies. However, I am optimistic that as the Senate moves forward and we work towards conference on this bill, additional funding can be found to make NASA and NSF whole and guarantee that we continue to support our Nation's students, teachers, scientists and engineers."
The bill was adopted by a vote of 256 to 169.