Lucas laments Science Committee’s partisan approval of reconciliation package

Rep. Frank Lucas

U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) slammed a massive, partisan reconciliation package approved last week by the committee on a party-line vote.

“The $45.5 billion in spending in this bill isn’t about sustainably or strategically funding research and development,” Rep. Lucas said. “We’re throwing money at agencies with almost no direction on how it is to be spent.”

The House Science Committee on Sept. 9 voted 21-17 after a daylong markup to advance its portion of the reconciliation package, which would allocate $45.51 billion to agencies under its jurisdiction, including NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The bill would provide NASA with almost $4.4 billion in additional funding, with $4 billion set aside for NASA infrastructure improvements. Climate change projects would get $388 million and NASA cybersecurity $7 million, according to an updated Sept. 4 draft of the bill.

“This bill undercuts the valuable work this committee has done to increase our investments in science and technology, expand clean energy, and increase American competitiveness,” said Rep. Lucas. “We’ll throw away our deliberate, strategic approach for long-term growth in favor of this one-time spending spree.” 

Committee Democrats opposed several GOP amendments aimed at improving the bill, including several offered by Rep. Lucas, such as an amendment that would have reallocated almost $3 billion of the $45.5 billion bill to provide support for research recovery that’s been halted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Another Lucas amendment that wasn’t approved would have promoted an all-of-the-above approach to clean energy by adding nuclear, hydrogen and fossil demonstration projects to the list of renewable technologies eligible for energy demonstration funding, while yet another would have prohibited any NSF funds from being used to establish a new Directorate for Technology and Innovation, according to the congressman’s staff.

“While I appreciate that some Republican amendments were included to improve this underlying legislation, far too many priorities were rejected,” Rep. Lucas said. “The result is a deeply flawed, reckless package.”