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April 14, 1999

R&D Hit Hard as House Passes FY2000 Budget

The House today passed H. Con. Res. 68, the FY2000 Budget Resolution. Congressman George E. Brown, Jr., ranking Democrat on the Committee provided his comments on this budget.

"The bad news for the science community is that the Majority's budget treats R&D very poorly. The good news is that this budget is almost entirely irrelevant to the funding decisions Congress will ultimately make in negotiation with the White House."

"The budget offered by the Republican leadership leaves in place caps designed to get us out of a deficit that our economic growth has conquered. Their budget promises future tax cuts that can only work if we assume that we can maintain our unprecedented run of economic growth for another five years. Their budget forces cuts on discretionary programs that no one believes will be politically possible or desirable from a public policy perspective.

"For example, according to the very fine, non-partisan analysis done by AAAS, civilian research and development accounts would take a 12.5% cut (adjusted for inflation) over the five years covered in this resolution. AAAS is to be lauded for its efforts to shed light on the effects of the President's proposal and the Republican's own offering.

"Now, I don't believe that we will actually see a 12.5% cut in those accounts or a 14.3% cut in defense R&D because I don't believe this budget is a serious guide to policy. I also know that there are very good Members on both sides of the aisle who understand how important these investments are to our National well-being. Those Members, joined by my friends from the White House, will do everything they can to protect science and technology programs when we move towards an omnibus bill at the end of the Fiscal Year. But I think it is interesting that when the Majority's budget leadership is given an opportunity to communicate its priorities, research and development programs were not spared the knife. I would simply say that abandoning investments in the Nation's future is no way to show leadership.

"The bottom line is that we know, come September, that we will begin to look for some way to wiggle out of the problems we are creating with this budget. Like last year, and every year since the Republicans took control of this institution, we will end with an omnibus spending package that spends far more than today's budget resolution would suggest we have to spend without going through any of the regular order that used to be the hallmark of this body's work. Come September or October or even November we will be back on this floor passing some big, ugly, undemocratic measure that simply lets us limp into another fiscal year. I hope that research and development programs will fare better in that environment, but the outcome will not be entirely rational and nothing is assured."

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