Thursday, May 1, 2014

House Decides It Doesn't Need to Be Informed about Technology, Rejects Amendment to Restore OTA

Today (or now yesterday), the House voted on appropriations for the Legislative Branch for FY2015.
Four amendments had recorded votes, and I would like to focus on one in particular.

Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) offered an amendment to appropriate $2.5 million to re-institute the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), offset from funds in the House Historic Buildings Revitalization Trust Fund.

The OTA was created in 1972 to provide unbiased analysis of complex scientific and technical issues. You can read the 1972 law here.

Here is the rationale for its creation in 1972:
SEC. 2. The Congress hereby finds and declares that:
(a) As technology continues to change and expand rapidly, its applications are--
1. large and growing in scale; and
2. increasingly extensive, pervasive, and critical in their impact, beneficial and adverse, on the natural and social environment.
(b)Therefore, it is essential that, to the fullest extent possible, the consequences of technological applications be anticipated, understood, and considered in determination of public policy on existing and emerging national problems.
(c) The Congress further finds that:
1.the Federal agencies presently responsible directly to the Congress are not designed to provide the legislative branch with adequate and timely information, independently developed, relating to the potential impact of technological applications, and
2.the present mechanisms of the Congress do not and are not designed to provide the legislative branch with such information.
(d) Accordingly, it is necessary for the Congress to--
1. equip itself with new and effective means for securing competent, unbiased information concerning the physical, biological, economic, social, and political effects of such applications; and
2. utilize this information, whenever appropriate, as one factor in the legislative assessment of matters pending before the Congress, particularly in those instances where the Federal Government may be called upon to consider support for, or management or regulation of, technological applications.
And here were the OTA's main functions:
The basic function of the Office shall be to provide early indications of the probable beneficial and adverse impacts of the applications of technology and to develop other coordinate information which may assist the Congress. In carrying out such function, the Office shall:
1. identify existing or probable impacts of technology or technological programs;
2.where possible, ascertain cause-and-effect relationships;
3.identify alternative technological methods of implementing specific programs;
4.identify alternative programs for achieving requisite goals;
5. make estimates and comparisons of the impacts of alternative methods and programs;
6.present findings of completed analyses to the appropriate legislative authorities;
7. identify areas where additional research or data collection is required to provide adequate support for the assessments and estimates described in paragraph (1) through (5) of this subsection
After Republicans swept Congress in 1994, they defunded the agency. 
Holt's amendment failed 164 to 248. 155 Democrats and 9 Republicans voted for it. 217 Republicans and 31 Democrats voted against it.

Here are the 9 Republicans:
Bill Cassidy (LA-06)
Blake Farenthold (TX-27)
Andy Harris (MD-01)
Walter Jones (NC-03)
Leonard Lance (NJ-07)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-01)
Tom Petri (WI-06)
Matt Salmon (AZ-05)
Pat Tiberi (OH-12)
Here are the 31 Democrats:
Bob Brady (PA-010
G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
Jim Clyburn (SC-06)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Joe Crowley (NY-14)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Lois Frankel (FL-22)
Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)
Pete Gallego (TX-23)
Steve Horsford (NV-04)
Steny Hoyer (MD-05)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18)
Dan Kildee (MI-05)
Dan Maffei (NY-24)
Carolyn Maloney (NY-12)
Sean Maloney (NY-18)
Carolyn McCarthy (NY-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Gwen Moore (WI-04)
Beto O’Rourke (TX-16)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Lucille Royball-Allard (CA-40)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Terri Sewell (Al-07)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)
Albio Sires (NJ-08)
Dina Titus (NV-01)
Fiemon Vela (TX-34)
Tim Walz (MN-01)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)

Congress also rejected an amendment from Republican Richard Nugent (FL-11) to prohibit the CAO of the House of Representatives from making any payments from any Members' representational allowance for the leasing of a vehicle, excluding mobile district offices and short-term vehicle rentals. It failed 196 to 221.

137 Republicans and 59 Democrats voted for it. 89 Republicans and 132 Democrats voted against it.
Congress passed an amendment by Republican Paul Gosar (AZ-04) to reduce the amount provided for the Botanic Garden to the fiscal year 2014 level and transfer the funds to the spending reduction account.

190 Republicans and 29 Democrats voted for it. 37 Republicans and 161 Democrats opposed it.
Congress rejected an amendment by Republican Paul Broun (GA-10) to reduce the funding for the Capitol Visitor Center by $243,000, returning it to FY14 levels.  The vote was very close: 207 to 212.
185 Republicans and 22 Democrats voted for it. 43 Republicans and 169 Democrats opposed it.

No comments:

Post a Comment