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Fiscal Year 2004 Appropriations Hearings (4-11-03)

  • February 11, 2003: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Hearing on FY 2004 Budget for the Department of the Interior.
  • February 13, 2003: House Committee on Science Hearing on the Federal R&D Budget for FY04.
  • March 20, 2003: House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on FY04 Budget Request for the Department of Energy, Nuclear Waste Management and Disposal.
  • April 3, 2003: Senate VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on FY 2004 Budget Requests for NSF & OSTP
  • April 7, 2003: Senate Energy and Water Development Subcommittee Hearing on FY 2004 Budget Request for teh Departmen of Energy, Nuclear Waste Management and Disposal.
  • April 10, 2003: Senate Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on FY 2004 Budget Request for the Department of the Interior
  • April 10, 2003: Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on FY 2004 Budget Request for Science on Technology

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security
Hearing on FY 2004 Budget Request for Science and Technology

April 10, 2003

Witnesses
Dr. Charles McQueary, Under Secretary for Science and Technology, Department of Homeland Security

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security held a hearing on April 10, 2003, to examine the fiscal year 2004 budget request for the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate at the newly formed Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Charles McQueary, Under Secretary for Science and Technology, testified that while the S&T Directorate seeks to provide assistance to civilians in response to natural disasters and law enforcement needs, their primary goal, as emphasized by the budget request, will be to develop capabilities to counter chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive, and cyber threats. The senators' questions focused on how the S&T Directorate will approach their mission goals and organize their research efforts.

-- CEM

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies
Hearing on the FY 2004 Budget Request for the Department of the Interior

April 10, 2003

Witnesses
Gale Norton, Secretary, Department of the Interior

On April 10, 2003, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies held a hearing to examine the Department of the Interior's (DOI) fiscal year 2004 budget request. The majority of the subcommittee's questions focused on funding for Indian schools and Indian trust reform initiatives.

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), the subcommittee's ranking Democrat, stated his disapproval of DOI's decision to cut funding to rural water projects, specifically those in North Dakota that have already begun construction. Similar to comments she made at a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in February, Interior Secretary Gale Norton replied that the White House Office of Management and Budget felt that the rural water projects were ineffective and not meeting their goals, especially in comparison to similar programs at other agencies. In a press release, Dorgan promised to restore funding for rural water projects.

Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) commented that he wanted the Environmental Impact Statement for coalbed methane drilling in the Powder River Basin to be completed in a comprehensive and responsible way. Norton replied it will be completed later this month.

- CEM

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
FY 2004 Budget Request for the Department of Energy, Nuclear Waste Management and Disposal

April 7, 2003

Witnesses
Dr. Margaret Chu, Director, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management
Jessie Roberson, Assistant Secretary, Office of Environmental Management

On April 7, 2003, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development held a hearing on the fiscal year 2004 budget request for the Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management and Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. The testimony and tone of the hearing were similar those presented at the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on March 20, 2003.

Most members of the Senate subcommittee were highly supportive of both Dr. Margaret Chu, Director for the DOE Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, and Jessie Roberson, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, with the only antagonism coming from Ranking Member Harry Reid (D-NV) concerning Yucca Mountain. Reid asked a series of questions criticizing the decision to postpone studying how radioactive waste will be transported from around the country to Yucca Mountain. Chu replied that due to budget shortfalls, the transportation aspects of the program were reprioritized so that the DOE could move ahead with submitting the license application to the NRC. Reid stated that he does not understand how a license application could be submitted in absence of transportation studies. Later Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) said, in reference to Reid's comments, that Chu should continue making the decisions as she sees fit, and not worry about the politics.

-CEM

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies
Hearing on FY 2004 Budget Requests for NSF & OSTP

April 3, 2003

Witnesses
Dr. John Marburger, III, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President
Dr. Rita Colwell, Director, National Science Foundation
Dr. Warren Washington, Chair, National Science Board
Dr. Christine Boesz, Inspector General, National Science Foundation

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies held a hearing on April 3, 2003, to examine the fiscal year 2004 budget requests for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) was disappointed with the NSF budget, saying she "believes this is not an NSF budget, but an OMB (Office of Management and Budget) budget." She mentioned particular concern that there is only a 1.2% increase in research funding. Chairman Christopher Bond (R-MO) had similar concerns and said the subcommittee will find the additional funds "somewhere, somehow." He then asked for recommendations from the panel on where additional funds were most needed. Dr. Warren Washington, Chair of the National Science Board, replied that in addition to the six NSF-wide initiatives outlined in his testimony -- biocomplexity, information technology, nanoscale science and engineering, mathematical sciences, human and social dynamics, and the 21st century workforce -- the subcommittee should support the core disciplinary science areas. Dr. Rita Colwell, Director of NSF, commented that the biggest crisis facing NSF is the 21st century workforce.

-CEM

House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee
FY 2004 Budget Request for the Department of Energy, Nuclear Waste Management and Disposal

March 20, 2003

Witnesses
Dr. Margaret Chu, Director, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management
Jessie Roberson, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management

The House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing on March 20, 2003, to receive testimony on the Department of Energy's (DOE) budget request for nuclear waste management and disposal. Dr. Margaret Chu, Director of the Office of the Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, discussed the DOE's progress towards submitting license application material to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to construct a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and on the transportation system needed to deliver nuclear waste to the repository. Jessie Roberson, Assistant Secretary for DOE's Environmental Management (EM), spoke on the progress in implementing cleanup reform and the importance of sustaining their momentum.

For fiscal year 2003, the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management received $460 million of their $591 million request. Chu testified that while they are still trying to maintain the NRC's license application submittal deadline, some planned activities had to be deferred and trade-offs were made due to the 22% decrease in funding. Chu could not provide a definitive answer as to how the delays will affect the project. Subcommittee Chairman David Hobson (R-OH) commented that inadequate funding was a critical issue, and Chu should not be making decisions due to lack of funding. He said the subcommittee will find the funds the project needs and that missing the submittal deadline is not acceptable.

Throughout the hearing, Hobson repeatedly voiced his opposition to the possibility of transporting waste on rail lines that pass close to Las Vegas. Chu said rail was the preferred transportation method according to the Environmental Impact Statement, and that they want to work with state and local governments on this issue. Hobson warned her that the longer the decision is deferred the more political the issue becomes. Hobson also stated that even though the cheapest route follows the US-95 corridor, the committee does not support this route, stating "Don't go there." Hobson believes the best route would pass near or through Nellis Air Force Base, saying it would be cheaper and more secure.

-CEM

House Committee on Science
Hearing on the Federal R&D Budget for Fiscal Year 2004

February 13, 2003

Witnesses
Dr. John Marburger, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy
Dr. Samuel Bodman, Deputy Secretary, Department of Commerce
Dr. Rita Colwell, Director, National Science Foundation
Mr. Robert Card, Under Secretary for Energy, Science and Environment, Department of Energy

On Thursday, February 13, 2003, the House Science Committee held a hearing to consider President Bush's fiscal year 2004 budget request for research and development. The complete testimonies of the witnesses are found on the House Committee web site. Committee Chairman Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) opened the hearing expressing approval of new laboratory money for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), increases for the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and increases for the National Nanotechnology Initiative. But he also conveyed distress over the virtual elimination of NIST's Advanced Technology Program and Manufacturing Extension Program, and flat funding for the Office of Science.

Boehlert also stated his deep concern regarding overall funding for the physical sciences, especially in areas of basic research. Rep. Ralph Hall (D-TX), Ranking Democratic Member of the Science Committee, also expressed disappointment in funding for the physical sciences and engineering, specifically within the Department of Defense's basic and applied research activities, and the total funding level for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, which remains flat for the third year in a row. Similar concerns about the Administration's scientific research and development priorities in the FY04 budget proposal were echoed by many of the other representatives.

Research Subcommittee Chairman Nick Smith (R-MI) stated that more should be done to strengthen the National Science Foundation (NSF), which he called a "model government agency." Smith also called for more transparency in the NSF's Major Research Equipment Facilities and Construction account, specifically a description of why projects deserved their rankings. Environment, Technology, and Standards Subcommittee Chair Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) agreed that NSF funding levels in the FY04 budget proposal were far off track from those declared in the NSF doubling bill passed last year. He stated "it is absolutely essential to fund basic research adequately for the future of our country."

Rep. Hall confirmed that he remains concerned about funding for domestic oil and gas development programs, which continues to be cut while industry research programs have largely been closed out. He views these cuts as a major hindrance to minimizing our dependence on foreign oil. Hall also voiced support for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling, especially in light of tension in the Middle East. Boehlert affirmed that he is opposed to drilling in ANWR and Lake Michigan, explaining that he believes the domestic oil reserves should be saved for "a rainy day."

A basis of concern throughout the hearing involved how to interpret the Administration's proposal since the usual baseline, the FY03 appropriations, had yet to be finalized. Boehlert asked Marburger if the FY04 budget would be readjusted to a new starting point once the FY03 budget was completed (so, for example, a 3% increase over the proposed FY03 budget would be adjusted to a 3% increase over the actual FY03 budget). Marburger replied that the proposed budget as it stands now would be the starting point.

-CEM

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Hearing on Fiscal Year 2004 Budget for the Department of the Interior (DOI)

February 11, 2003

Witness
Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior

On February 11, 2003, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the President's FY 2004 budget request for the Department of the Interior's (DOI). Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton testified to the Committee on the president's request and responded to senators' questions.

A number of the senators commented on the inclusion of revenues from leasing of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) in the budget proposal. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) remarked to Secretary Norton that revenues from ANWR leasing should be used to build parks, especially in urban areas. Secretary Norton agreed, saying that a portion of the revenues from ANWR have always been intended for conservation programs. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also voiced approval for including ANWR leasing revenues in the budget proposal and thanked Secretary Norton for assistance with the trans-Alaska oil pipeline's federal right-of-way renewal.

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) denounced how the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) monies are used. He stated that the budget request directs $550 million of the $901 million budgeted for the LWCF to extraneous purposes, cutting federal land acquisition by 50-60%. Funding for the LWCF was also adamantly denounced by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who commented that the budget shows "the poorest stewardship policies in years." She said the increase in offshore oil and gas exploration over the past 10 years should be reflected in the LWCF budget, with a special emphasis towards coastal conservation and restoration. Secretary Norton responded by saying that the DOI must give priority to maintaining the 1 in 5 acres of America it already manages before making additional land purchases.

Also of contention was the lack of funding for rural water projects in the FY 2004 budget proposal. Senator Bingaman asked Secretary Norton why rural water projects were zeroed out in the President's request. Secretary Norton replied that rural water projects were subjected to a program assessment which revealed that the projects had poorly defined goals, poorly defined criteria, and were ineffective overall, especially in comparison to similar programs at the EPA and USDA. Bingaman inquired whether DOI would work with the Senate to develop a comprehensive program to deal with these problems. Secretary Norton said they would. Senator Byron Dorgan (ND-D) also voiced strong disapproval of DOI's decision to cut the rural water projects, citing the vast improvement of water quality in rural North Dakota due to the programs.

-CEM

Sources: Hearing testimony.

Contributed by Charna Meth, 2003 Spring Semester Intern.

Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program.

Last updated on April 14, 2003


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