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Vol.26, No. 19 Apr. 9, 2001

Senate, House Pass Budget Resolutions

By Ellen S. Smith

Last week, the House and the Senate adjourned after passing the 2002 fiscal year (Oct.1, 2001-Sept. 30, 2002) budget resolutions. Passage of the resolutions was completed before President George Bush submitted his detailed 2002 budget on April 9.

Now that the House and Senate have each passed their separate resolutions, they will meet to work out the differences and to develop a non-binding blueprint for taxes, annual funding and Medicare. The major difference between the two bills was the size of the tax cut: the House bill proposed a $1.6 trillion tax cut, while the Senate proposed $1.2 trillion.

The Senate also accepted an amendment offered by Sens. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) to add funds for the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. No final figures are available for the agencies until the annual funding committees complete their work.

Budget Resolution

During a marathon Senate vote, a series of provisions and amendments were added to the Senate budget resolution, which altered the original proposal by the President and added funding for discretionary programs. Among the items included in the budget was additional funding for agriculture programs, for NIH (at $3.4 billion) and for defense programs (at $100 billion). The Senate also added $28 billion over three years from the contingency fund to provide health insurance for the uninsured, and doubled funding for international AIDs programs by $200 million in FY 2002.

Other Items

Because of concerns that the President's budget will significantly limit funding for the NSF, seven members of the House Science Committee sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee Chairman, C.W. Bill, Young (R-Fla.) urging him to place a high priority on funding for science agencies, in particular, the National Science Foundation. Democrats on the House Science Committee also plan to introduce a NSF authorizing bill. In addition, acting NIH Director Ruth Kirschstein voiced strong support for a balanced research portfolio. She said, "I hope that all of the sciences flourish, because if all of the sciences do not flourish, biomedical science breakthroughs will be slowed."