What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs : Reauthorization of the National Science Foundation (H.R. 1867)/Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) amendment that would require a 0.5 percent across-the-board cut in the funding levels authorized for the agency (2007 house Roll Call 291)
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Reauthorization of the National Science Foundation (H.R. 1867)/Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) amendment that would require a 0.5 percent across-the-board cut in the funding levels authorized for the agency
house Roll Call 291     May 02, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment to legislation reauthorizing the National Science Foundation (NSF), a large federal grant-making agency, at $21 billion through fiscal 2010. Proposed by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), the amendment would require a 0.5 percent across-the-board cut in the funding levels authorized for the agency.

The bill to which Garrett was seeking to amend would increase spending for NSF by 9.9 percent in the first year, 7.4 percent in the second year and 7.3 percent in the third year, for an increase of over 25 percent over a 3-year period.

Garrett's amendment followed a failed attempt by Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) to cut the agency's proposed funding levels by 1 percent (see Roll Call 290).

Garrett said he was offering his amendment as an incentive for NSF to "identify waste and any abuse within the agency, but also, very importantly, to help identify those programs which are either underperforming or simply just not working."

"So when we purport to be so concerned about the taxpayers' dollars and the debt we are leaving our children, which I just heard from the gentleman from the other side of the aisle previously, how can we justify programmic increases for research that are actually more than twice the rate of inflation?" Garrett asked.

Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), who authored the legislation, reiterated his objection to an across-the-board funding cut in the same terms he outlined against Campbell's amendment. He cited comments by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), who previously pointed out that the return on investment on NSF research grants is perhaps the highest of any other federal agency - "a tremendous amount of our economic prosperity today came from those investigations," Baird added.

"I agree that we have got a huge fiscal problem," Baird continued. "But, again, I will tell you that if you look at the long-term drivers of the fiscal problems this country faces, nobody says it is that vast waste at the National Science Foundation that is driving this country into debt. They say it is a combination of revenue, it is a combination of entitlement programs, it is a combination of defense. I agree we ought to debate those, but not on the back of the National Science Foundation, for goodness sake."

Garrett's amendment found only a handful more supporters than did Campbell's proposal. All but six Democrats voted against it, and all but 72 Republicans voted for it. Thus, on a vote of 126 to 292, the House rejected an amendment to legislation reauthorizing the National Science Foundation that would have reduced the agency's proposed funding levels by 0.5 percent across-the-board, and the bill moved forward without the reduction.

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