March 19, 2010
Today, the House will consider The Ocean, Coastal, and Watershed Education Act (H.R. 3644), which would authorize funding for two programs within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): the Environmental Literacy Grant Program and the Bay-Watershed Education and Training Regional Program (B-WET).
However, this legislation includes a significant spending increase that our government cannot afford and unnecessarily singles out two of more than a dozen NOAA education programs for special treatment.
Republican concerns with H.R. 3644:
- The bill authorizes a total of $145.7 million for the programs. This represents a 10 percent increase each year for five years for both programs. At a time when our country is facing record deficits, we cannot afford to automatically increase funding every year. Unfortunately, the Democrat Majority on the Rules Committee would not even allow a vote on an amendment by House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings that would have frozen spending for the programs at FY2010 levels.
- The B-WET program did not receive any funding in the President’s proposed FY 2011 or FY2010 budgets. Why is Congress attempting to authorize millions of dollars for a program that the President, who has never shied away from massive spending increases, has even proposed to eliminate?
- The President’s budget only requests $5.043 million for the Environmental Literacy Grant Program in FY2011– well below the $13.2 million authorized for the first year alone in this bill.
- There is no reason to single out these two specific education programs, especially since the National Academy of Sciences just two weeks ago issued a nearly 200-page report on NOAA’s entire education effort. It took almost two years and cost taxpayers more than $1 million to complete this study; Congress would be completely ignoring its findings and recommendations by voting on this bill today.
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