Friday, June 19, 2009

Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations

Yesterday was one of those days in the House Chamber that just makes you shake your head. At the end of it all, we had set a new record, and passed the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill.

Members on the other side of the aisle were upset that only two-dozen amendments to the bill had been ruled in order. Recall that several times this spring I have proposed amendments that have also not been allowed to the floor. I have some sympathy; however this was a fairly typical number of allowed amendments and certainly in-line with the number allowed when they were in power. However, the past is quickly forgotten in the world of partisan politics and so my friends in the Minority party undertook their version of a filibuster.

For every one of the 24 amendments they required the maximum number of procedural votes, thus keeping the House in chamber all day and establishing a new record of 52 recorded votes in one day.

The next busiest day, according to House parliamentarians, was October 4, 1988, when 40 votes were cast.

It was within their rights to do so, but there are consequences to these sorts of games. The Financial Services Committee, where I serve, was scheduled to hear and question Secretary of the Treasury Geithner yesterday and that was cancelled. With the White House proposing a new financial regulatory structure it was an important hearing.

At the end of the day, the bill passed (which was never in doubt) and I was able to secure funding for three earmarked projects in this bill.

1.) $100,000 for the City of Kansas City Community Justice Program
2.) $250,000 for the Mattie Rhodes Latino Youth Crime Prevention Program
3.) $100,000 for the Jackson County CASA Legal Child Advocate program

Provided the Senate agrees, these important community projects will receive some much needed federal dollars in FY 2010.
Also included in the bill:
Law Enforcement

· State and Local Law Enforcement Overall: Provides $3.4 billion, $671 million above the President’s request and $197 million above 2009, for state and local law enforcement and crime prevention grants overall, in order to keep our communities safe.

· COPS: Provides $802 million, $41 million above the President’s request and $252 million above 2009, for the COPS program. This includes $298 million for COPS Hiring Grants. When combined with the $1 billion provided in the Recovery Act for COPS Hiring Grants, this will enable the hiring of more than 7,000 police officers.

· Byrne Justice Assistance Grants: Provides $529 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, $10 million above 2009 and the President’s request. These grants are used by local law enforcement agencies for a broad range of activities to better fight and prevent crime.

· State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP): The President’s budget proposes eliminating funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which assists state and local governments with the costs of jailing undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes not related to their immigration status. The bill rejects this elimination – instead providing $300 million.

· Violence Against Women Programs: The bill provides $400 million, or $11 million above 2009, for Violence Against Women programs. These programs are designed to prevent and prosecute violence against women and strengthen services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

· Juvenile Justice: The bill provides $385 million for juvenile justice programs, $11 million above 2009. This includes funding for such items as $80 million for competitive youth mentoring grants; $75 million for delinquency prevention grants; and $55 million for Juvenile Accountability Block Grants.

· Second Chance Act Offender Reentry Programs: The bill provides $100 million, $75 million above 2009, for demonstration programs and other activities to reduce recidivism and the future costs of incarceration.

· Adam Walsh Act and Child Exploitation: The bill provides $325 million, $41 million above 2009, for the Adam Walsh Act (better protecting children from sex offenders) and other sex offender and child exploitation prevention and enforcement programs.

· Department-Wide Southwest Border Initiative: The bill provides $1.5 billion, $345 million above 2009, for activities to combat violence, stop the flow of illegal weapons and drug trafficking, bring dangerous criminals to justice, and improve law enforcement capabilities along the Southwest Border.

· FBI: The bill provides $7.7 billion, $654 million above 2009, for the FBI, to address national security needs, including cyber crime, WMD incidents, and surveillance, as well as criminal law enforcement priorities such as financial fraud.

Commitment to American Innovation

· Science Overall: The bill provides $30.6 billion, $1 billion above 2009, for investments in science, technology, and innovation – as part of an Innovation Agenda to keep America competitive in the global marketplace.

· National Science Foundation (NSF): The bill provides $6.9 billion, $446 million above 2009, for the NSF – supporting the most promising scientific research at America’s colleges and universities. This funding level continues to put the NSF budget on track to double over the next seven years, as called for under the America COMPETES Act (PL 110-69).

· National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): The bill provides $781 million for NIST – to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by investing in scientific and technical research services. This funding level continues to put NIST on track to double over the next seven years, as called for under the America COMPETES Act (PL 110-69). The funding includes:
o Manufacturing Extension Partnerships: $125 million to help small and mid-size manufacturers compete globally by providing them with technical advice and access to technology, as well as leveraging private funds to save and create jobs.
o Technology Innovation Program: $70 million to fund high-risk high-reward research into areas of critical national need done by U.S. businesses, colleges and universities, and national labs.

· National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): The bill provides $18.2 billion, $421 million above 2009, for NASA – recognizing that the science and research conducted at NASA is also critical to the nation’s science enterprise. It includes funding for scientific research in space; aeronautical research; manned exploration in space; and education programs that use space science to inspire our youth.

· National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The bill provides $4.6 billion, $238 million above 2009, for NOAA, to increase important ocean, weather, and climate research activities and for satellite and ground-based measurement systems acquisitions.

· Science Education: The bill provides $1.08 billion for science education, $36 million above 2009, for science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – education. This funding is designed to give our young people the education and training they need – from elementary school through graduate study -- to become the innovation workforce of the future.

Global Climate Change Research

The bill provides over $2 billion, $120 million above 2009, to study global climate change, one of the greatest challenges facing our country. This includes:

· NASA: $1.3 billion, including nearly $150 million to develop and demonstrate space-based climate measurements identified by the National Academy of Science and the science community.

· NOAA: Almost $400 million to enhance climate change research and regional assessments; climate data records, data access and archiving requirements; and climate change educational programs.

· National Science Foundation: An estimated $310 million for climate change research, modeling and education.
· Economic Development Administration: $25 million for green building initiatives.

· National Institute of Standards and Technology: $15 million for the development of greenhouse gas emission standards.