Congress Says It Doesn’t Need a Tech Advisory Office

Lawmakers voted against reinstating the Office of Technology Assessment, which was defunded in 1995.

A push by a cohort of Democratic lawmakers to reinstate the Office of Technology Assessment failed on the House floor Friday.

The office was created in 1972 to offer bipartisan advice and assistance to lawmakers on difficult technical issues. It was later defunded in 1995 by a Republican Congress that considered its work redundant.

Reps. Mark Takano, D-Calif., John Delaney, D-Md., Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., Bill Foster, D-Ill., Jim Langevin, D-R.I., Ted Lieu, Calif., and Ben Lujan, D-N.M., introduced an amendment to reinstate the defunct office. The amendment was added to an appropriations bill to fund energy and water programs, military construction, the Veterans Affairs Department and legislative branch for fiscal 2019.

The amendment failed by a vote of 217-195, largely along party lines. Yuri Beckelman, Takano’s chief of staff, noted the legislation got a few more ‘yea’ votes than last year when it was voted down 236-191.

The amendment called for restarting the office with a starting budget of $2.5 million. That funding would be taken from an administrative account within the Architect of the Capitol’s budget, according to the amendment.

When it was shuttered in 1995, the Office of Technology Assessment had more than 140 staffers and a budget of $22 million.

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