Jun 21 2005

COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE APPROPRIATIONS BILL CONSIDERED BY SUBCOMMITTEE

Opening Statement of Chairman Richard Shelby

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee (CJS), today held a meeting of the subcommittee to markup the Fiscal Year 2006 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill. The following is Chairman Shelby’s opening statement, as prepared:

“The Subcommittee will please come to order. I will begin by outlining the recommendation that is before you. I will then yield to Senator Mikulski for her opening statement and for the usual motion. Then I will yield to the Members for opening statements. When those opening statements are completed, I will recognize Members for the purpose of offering amendments, should they choose to do so.”

“I would like to again thank Members for coming. I would also like to thank Senator Cochran, our full committee Chairman, for his leadership throughout our preparations. I would like to thank Senator Mikulski, our Ranking Member. Senator Mikulski and I have worked together on science and commerce issues for many years. I believe that we have worked together this year to craft a bill that is balanced, responsible, and forward-looking, under intense time and budget constraints.”

“This is the first markup of the newly constituted Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill. I believe this bill is one of the more complex of the twelve appropriations bills, and like many of the other bills has many unique challenges. This new subcommittee has jurisdiction over two Cabinet agencies, the Departments of Justice and Commerce, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and a number of independent agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Small Business Administration. The major areas of jurisdiction are counterterrorism; Federal, State, and local law enforcement; our Nation's economy; scientific research; our nation's space program; and regulation of the banking and telecommunications sectors.”

“This diversity makes the Commerce, Justice, Science bill a challenge to move through the appropriations process. And, in a year when domestic discretionary dollars are scarce, we must -- and I believe we have -- work together to find ways to ensure that the priorities of our Nation and our States are met while remaining within our allocation. I believe that the bill before you today accomplishes this goal. I want to quickly highlight some important provisions that are included in the bill before you today.”

“The Subcommittee mark is $885 million above the fiscal year 2005 level, which is a two percent increase. In reviewing the Subcommittee mark, the numbers appear to suggest that we are well below the budget request. However, it is important to note that the bill does not include the proposed “Strengthening America's Communities Initiative.” While the President's budget request for the Department of Commerce included $3.7 billion to implement this initiative, it was not assumed as part of the Subcommittee's 302(b) allocation and therefore not included in the bill.”

“I believe it is also important to note that the Subcommittee has provided funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), under a separate Science Title, along with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).”

“Let me provide a short description of the Subcommittee recommendation for each of the major agencies funded under this bill.”

“The Subcommittee recommendation includes an increase of over $1 billion above the budget request for the Department of Justice. The bulk of this increase is due to the restoration of the proposed cuts to State and local law enforcement grant programs such as the Byrne Grants, funded at $177 million; COPS Tech, funded at $137 million; Meth Hot Spots, funded at $60 million; and many others.”

“For other Justice programs, the recommendation includes funding to support current services and provides requested increases for critical counterterrorism and law enforcement programs. For the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the recommendation includes funding increases to strengthen and leverage the FBI's existing workforce, such as increases for training, secure computer networks, intelligence analysis software, and infrastructure enhancements.”

“We have included nearly $7.2 billion for the Department of Commerce, including NOAA and the National

Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), which is an 8 percent increase over last year's funding level. I do want to point out that many programs within the Department of Commerce were proposed for termination in the President's fiscal year 2006 budget. Most of these terminations were premised upon the notion that they are no longer needed. I -- and many of my colleagues -- strongly disagree. To that end, we have restored funding to the Economic Development Administration by including $315 million. We have also restored $22 million in funding to the Public Telecommunications Facilities, Planning and Construction grants and $15 million to restore the Technology Opportunities Program.”

“In the Science Title of the bill, the Subcommittee recommendation restores the eight percent reduction from last year's enacted level that was proposed for NOAA. We are disappointed that NOAA's budget has again been targeted for severe reductions. I strongly believe, as do many of you, that NOAA's budget should move in the opposite direction, and we have done that in this bill. The recent Ocean Commission report concluded, essentially, that we are not doing nearly enough towards the study our Oceans. Implementation of the recommendations of the Ocean Commission Report is among the Subcommittee's top priorities; the recommendation includes $660 million for Ocean Commission initiatives.”

“This bill provides funding for NASA to move forward with the exploration vision, while fully funding the ongoing activities of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. In order to accomplish the vision the President has proposed, we must fulfill our commitments to these programs and maintain our investments in research to ensure our journey back to the Moon is successful. This bill fully funds Constellation Systems, which will allow NASA the ability to move forward with the Crew Exploration Vehicle, the Nation's next manned vehicle that will take us to the Moon and beyond. Finally, we have provided NASA with funds to prepare a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope so that it can continue to provide us with valuable knowledge about the universe we live in.”

“The fiscal year 2006 Subcommittee recommendation includes funding for a number of independent agencies that fall within the Subcommittees purview, including full funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC is currently in the process of ramping up its enforcement capabilities to address and prevent corporate scandals. Full funding is also provided for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which is tasked with overseeing spectrum allocation - a booming business these days. Finally, the recommendation does not accept the proposed elimination of several Small Business Administration programs, including: 7(j) technical assistance, Microloan Technical Assistance and Microloan Direct, HUBZones, Native American Outreach, and PRIME.”

“In such an austere budget environment, difficult decisions must be made. I believe we have listened to our colleagues on the Committee and in the wider body to try to address their diverse concerns. And while we were able to accommodate many of our colleagues' requests, we were obviously not able to do everything everyone has requested. In this vein, if any of our colleagues have concerns, Senator Mikulski and I will be glad to work with you as the process moves forward to try to address these concerns. I will ask, however, that you reserve amendments for the floor.”

“Above all, we have endeavored to produce a bill that is bipartisan, reflective of this Committee's priorities as well as those of the entire Senate. We will rely on our colleagues to help us move this bill through full Committee, past the floor, and ultimately through conference. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”

“I yield to Senator Mikulski, my esteemed Ranking Member, for her statement,” Shelby concluded.

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