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House Acts on Commerce Programs

May 02, 1997

The sunset provision on Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers would be removed under authorizing language approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The action came in authorization language for key U.S. Department of Commerce and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) programs.

Currently MEP centers are restricted to six years of federal funding. Centers that have reached the six year sunset have been granted extensions on a case by case basis through Congressional action. Under the House language, those extensions would no longer be necessary.

The bill did not authorize funding for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Technology (EPSCoT), a new program to be administered by the Technology Administration.

The bill also authorizes, as shown in the table below, less funding for programs than the Clinton Administration requested in its budget proposal.












Admin & House

TA 10 9 7 -22% MEP 95 125 118 -6% ATP 225 275 185 -33%

TA=Technology Administration

MEP=Manufacturing Extension Partnership

ATP=Advanced Technology Program

The House action was language authorizing action, not appropriating funds. Separate action by the House Appropriations Committee and then the full House is required to appropriate the funds for the programs. As a result, final appropriations approved by the House should be different than is contained in the authorization language. Additionally, not having authorizing language, as in EPSCoT's case, would not necessarily prevent the program from being created.