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April 23, 1997
(House Rules)

H.R. 1274 - National Institute of Standards and Technology Authorization Act of
(Morella (R) MD)

The Administration appreciates the support provided in H.R. 1274 for the Commerce Department's important technology programs, and has no objection to House passage of H.R. 1274. The Administration, however, will seek amendments to address the concerns described below. The Administration's support for the final version of H.R. 1274 is contingent on the satisfactory resolution of these concerns.

The Administration will seek to conform the bill's appropriation authorization levels with those proposed in the President's FY 1998 Budget. For example, the Administration will seek to increase authorization levels for:

  • The Advanced Technology Program (ATP), which is an important means for developing high-risk technologies that are unlikely to be developed in time to compete in rapidly changing world markets without industry and Government partnerships. H.R. 1274 would reduce the amount available for new ATP awards in FY 1998.

  • The Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, in order to meet existing commitments for Centers and their management and to provide for nationwide initiatives, including information technology for small and medium-sized manufacturers.

  • The Office of Technology Policy, in order to accommodate the proposed "Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Technology." This program is designed to foster participation in national research and development initiatives by States that have not traditionally participated in such programs.
The Administration will also seek deletion of the following provisions:
  • The reduction from 50 to 40 percent in the Federal share of certain joint public-private projects under the ATP. The 50-50 cost sharing arrangement is used consistently in Federal research and development projects and should continue to apply to the ATP.

  • An 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 for increased competition for research and development financial assistance.)

  • The prohibition on the use of appropriations authorized by H.R. 1274 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 this Department 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.

  • 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.

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

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