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April 23, 1997
(House Rules)

H.R. 1273 - National Science Foundation Authorization Act
(Schiff (R) New Mexico)

The Administration appreciates the strong support that H.R. 1273 provides for the research and education activities of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 1273, but will seek improvements as the bill moves through the legislative process to address its concerns, including the following.
  • Reduce the FY 1998 authorization for Major Research Equipment (MRE) from $175 million to $155 million. The $155 million would provide $95 million towards replacement and refurbishment of Antarctic facilities, consistent with the Antarctic Program External Panel recommendation, and $60 million for MRE items requested in the President's Budget.

  • Delete the unprecedented provision that could establish "de facto debarment" of certain grants recipients. (The Administration, however, supports the underlying intent of this provision, which is to provide increased competition for research and development financial assistance.)

  • Delete the prohibition on the use of authorized appropriations to "influence legislation pending before the Congress" except for certain "requests for legislation or appropriations". This overly broad prohibition, if applied literally, would inappropriately and unnecessarily limit the ability of the NSF to advise Congress and the public of its views on pending legislation. This provision is constitutionally suspect, insofar as it purports unduly to limit the President's authority to communicate his views through subordinates to Congress and the American people, and should therefore be deleted.

  • Delete the prohibition on the use of certain funds for the Next Generation Internet, a research investment that is crucial to America's future communications infrastructure.

  • Delete section 206(a)(6), which would inappropriately require the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to be the sponsor of the Science and Technology Policy Institute (formerly the Critical Technologies Institute).

  • Delete provisions that (1) restrict the authority of Federal accounting officers (section 103) and (2) impose educational leave of absence policies on public and private universities (section 205).

  • Add the provision, proposed by NSF, that would authorize the National Science Board to adopt procedures governing the conduct of its meetings.

  • Delete a "Buy American" provision that could conflict with U.S. obligations under international trade agreements.

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