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April 23, 1997
(House Rules)

H.R. 1275 - Civilian Space Authorization Act
(Rohrbacher (R) CA)

The Administration appreciates the support provided in H.R. 1275 for full funding of all major NASA programs, and has no objection to House passage of H.R. 1275. The Administration, however, will seek amendments to address the concerns described below. The Administration's support for the final version of H.R. 1275 is contingent on the satisfactory resolution of these concerns.

The Administration will seek the following amendments to conform the appropriation authorization levels in H.R. 1275 with the President's FY 1998 Budget:

  • Deletion of $376 million in unrequested authorizations above the Budget request of $13.5 billion and an additional $68 million in unrequested authorizations earmarked within the Mission to Planet Earth program.

  • Deletion of restrictions on Space Station research funding and on the transfer of program responsibilities. These restrictions would jeopardize Space Station development at a critical period.

  • Authorization of advanced appropriations as requested in the FY 1998 Budget.
The Administration shares the Science Committee's concern about delays by the Russian Government and its contractors of their contributions for the International Space Station program, and is working with the Committee to address the issue. The Administration, however, strongly opposes the requirement in H.R. 1275 that the President decide by August 1, 1997, whether to proceed with permanent replacement of certain Russian contributions. This deadline would not allow sufficient flexibility in making this critical decision. The Administration intends to conduct a detailed review of this issue as part of the FY 1999 budget formulation process, and will implement contingency plans, as needed, in a timely manner.

The Administration will also seek amendments to delete:

  • Restrictions on the transfer of Space Station program responsibilities at any NASA Center. These restrictions would inappropriately impair NASA's ability to manage its programs.

  • 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. 1275 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 NASA's ability 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 requirement for the President to submit legislation implementing NASA's recommendations for restructuring its activities.

  • 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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