April 23, 1997
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
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.
- 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 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
- The "Buy American" provision that could conflict with U.S. obligations
under international trade agreements.