Appropriations Reorganization Update: NSF and NASA to Energy and Water?

House Appropriations Chair Jerry Lewis (R-CA) is apparently proposing the most radical restructuring of the Appropriations Committee in decades, according to an article appearing in today’s Congress Daily (sub. req’d). Peter Cohn, writes (sorry, I can’t find it online), that the proposal would pare the 13 appropriations committees down to 10 and would move NASA and the National Science Foundation out from beneath the veterans’ programs and housing programs in the VA-HUD appropriations and into the Energy and Water Appropriations, where they would join the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Energy.
The proposal is very similar to the appropriations reorganization originally floated by House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) (which we covered here). The proposal doesn’t quite create the “Science Subcommittee” that was rumored to have been part of Delay’s original proposal — the National Institutes of Health, along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration won’t be affected by the move. But it’s more ambitious than most predicted.
I think this could potentially raise the prominence of NASA and NSF within the approps process, as they’ll be sharing a subcommittee with agencies with more modest budgets (Corps of Engineers = ~$4.8 billion; DOE = ~$23 billion) than the two behemoths in VA-HUD (VA = ~$65 billion and HUD = ~$38 billion). One potential negative, however, is that the Energy and Water bill tends to be a magnet for congressional earmarks — typically for water projects within home districts.
The plan faces some resistance from Senate Appropriations Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS), who told Congress Daily that he’s “in no rush to make major changes.” One Senator who will surely object to any move to eliminate the VA-HUD subcommittee is Kit Bond (R-MO), who is slated to return as its chairman.
The House leadership apparently plans to go ahead with the change regardless of what the Senate decides. Should the Senate not go along with the move, reconciliation of the bills in conference could be chaotic.
In any case, expect that whatever reorganization will happen will happen soon. As always, keep it tuned here for the latest details….
Update: It appears Rep. David Hobson (R-OH) would be in line to take over the newly constituted Energy and Water subcommittee (with NSF and NASA)….

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