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NSF Congressional Update

February 11, 2004

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on FY05 Budget

U.S. Capitol image House Science Committee Hearing. On February 11, Dr. Colwell testified before the House Science Committee on NSF's FY 2005 budget. Testifying before the Committee were OSTP Director John Marburger, Director Colwell, Homeland Security Under Secretary for S&T Charles McQueary, Commerce Under Secretary for Technology Phil Bond, and DOE Office of Science Director Ray Orbach.

Members of both parties in the House Science committee expressed concern about the FY 2005 research and development budget, questioning if it adequately addresses the nation's science and technology needs.

"It's impossible to seriously view this as a good budget for science," said House Science Committee Chairman Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). "I am going to be as blunt as the chairman has been today in expressing my disappointment in the proposed science budget," said Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN). "It is simply inadequate in light of the challenges that we are facing."

Committee members expressed strong support for increased funding for several science and technology agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Energy Department's Office of Science. Even with the strong support expressed for NSF, it was couched in the reality of the budget situation, with Chairman Boehlert stating that he had just returned from a meeting with Republican leaders discussing the budget and stated, "I can assure you that this year will be an interesting and difficult budget year."

The strongest statements at the hearing were reserved for the Math and Science Partnership proposal. Member after member of the Committee assailed the proposed consolidation of Math & Science Partnership Program at the Department of Education. Chairman Boehlert, after declaring that he would do everything he could to keep the program at NSF stated, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), recommended to the Committee that they "Kill it immediately and let everyone know it's been killed." The proposal, Boehlert added, is "unlikely to pass” through Congress regardless of the administration's wishes.

Dr. Colwell, who announced her resignation before her testimony before the Committee, received a standing ovation from the hearing room, led by the Committee Chairman Boehlert, and every legislator in the room, praised her leadership.

Speaking of Dr. Bement who attended the hearing but did not testify, Chairman Boehlert said "We know that NSF will be in good hands under his leadership, but we want him back at NIST as soon as possible."


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