Congress Approves Omnibus Appropriations Bill
November 20, 2004. The House and Senate both approved on November 20, 2004 an huge omnibus appropriations bill that provides appropriations for fiscal year 2005 for most of the technology related executive branch entities. Also, while it is an appropriations bill, it also includes many substantive law provisions.
This bill contains FY 2005 appropriations for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It also includes appropriations for the Department of Commerce (DOC), which includes the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the Bureau of Industry and Standards (BIS). It also includes appropriations for the Department of Justice (DOJ), which includes the Antitrust Division and the Criminal Division (which handles matters related to intellectual property crimes, computer hacking, and CALEA matters.
As of publication of this issue, the conference report was not yet published in the Congress's Thomas web site. However, it is in the House Rules Committee web site. See, web page with hyperlinks to the different divisions of the bill. See especially, Division B [PDF scan], titled "Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2005". This copy is a PDF scan of 216 pages, and over 20 MB. It is a a long download. This Division contains most of the technology related appropriations.
The House approved the conference report on HR 4818, this omnibus appropriations bill, on Saturday afternoon, November 20, by a vote of 344-51. See, Roll Call No. 542. This vote was non-partisan. 27 Republicans voted against the bill, and 24 Democrats voted against it.
The Senate approved the conference report on Saturday night, November 20, by a vote of 65-30. See, Roll Call No. 215. Voting correlated with party affiliation. 6 of 51 Republicans voted against the bill, while 23 of 48 Democrats voted for the bill.
See, House Appropriations Committee's (HAC) summary of the bill, titled "Highlights of the Final FY05 Spending Bills", and Senate Appropriations Committee's (SAC) summary of Division B of the bill.
President Bush will sign the bill after his return from the APEC conference in Chile. He released a statement on November 20, 2004. He wrote, "I commend the Congress for reaching agreement on the fiscal year 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. ... I look forward to signing a final bill into law."
The bill appropriates $281 Million for the FCC for FY 2005. This is $7 Million above the FY 2004 appropriation. (See, page 135 of the above hyperlinked Rules Committee draft.)
The bill provides $205,430,000 for the FTC. (See, page 136 of the Rules Committee draft.)
The bill provides $913 Million for the SEC. This is $102 Million above FY 2004. (See, page 139.)
The bill provides $41,552,000 for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
The bill provides $1,187,000 for the Antitrust Modernization Commission.
The Department of Justice's (DOJ) appropriations are covered in pages 1-50 of the Rules Committee draft. The bill provides the Antitrust Division "For expenses necessary for the enforcement of antitrust and kindred law, $138,763,000."
The bill does not give a breakdown for the Criminal Division or any of its components, such as the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS). The bill specifies $13.5 Million for the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The FBI gets $5,205 Million, an increase of $625 Million.
The Department of Commerce's (DOC) appropriations are covered in pages 50-95 of the Rules Committee draft.
The NTIA receives appropriations for its expenses ($17.4 Million) and for grants ($21.8 Million). The bill provides that "For necessary expenses, as provided for by law, of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), $17,433,000, to remain available until September 30, 2006: Provided, That, notwithstanding 31 U.S.C. 1535(d), the Secretary of Commerce shall charge Federal agencies for costs incurred in spectrum management, analysis, and operations, and related services and such fees shall be retained and used as offsetting collections for costs of such spectrum services, to remain available until expended. Provided further, That, the Secretary of Commerce is authorized to retain and use as offsetting collection all funds transferred, or previously transferred, from other Government agencies for all costs incurred in telecommunications research, engineering, and related activities by the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences of NTIA, in furtherance of its assigned functions under this paragraph, and such funds received from other Government agencies shall remain available until expended."
The bill also provides "For administration of grants authorized by section 392 of the Communications Act of 1934, $21,769,000, to remain available until expended as authorized by section 391 of the Act."
The bill provides $2 Million for the National Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordination Council.
The bill provides $68,393,000 for the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which was previously named the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA).
The bill provides $6,547,000 for the Office of Technology Policy (OTP).
The bill provides $709 Million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), including $109 Million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.
The bill provides appropriations totaling $1.54 Billion for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). See also, related story in the issue, titled "Appropriations Bill Provides $1.54 Billion for USPTO, Temporary Fee Increases, But No End to Diversion".
The State Department appropriation includes $600 Million for international broadcasting, which is $48 Million above FY 2004, to provide increased funding for radio and television broadcasting in the Middle East.
The bill also addresses telecommuting. Section 622 of the bill (at page 162) provides that "The Departments of Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Small Business Administration shall, not later than two month after the date of the enactment of this Act, certify that telecommuting opportunities are made available to 100 percent of the eligible workforce." The bill also requires quarterly reports to Congress on their telecommuting programs. This does not apply to the FCC or FTC.
Division A [another huge PDF scan] of the bill pertains to "Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies". It appropriates a total of $56 Million for distance learning, telemedicine and broadband programs for grants and loan subsidy costs.
The bill also amends immigration law pertaining to H-1B visas (which covers high
tech workers) and L-1 Visas (for intracompany transfers). See, story in this
issue titled "Appropriations Bill Includes H1B and L1 Visa