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AAU WEEKLY WRAP-UP

March 14, 2014

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CONTENTS
CONGRESSIONAL SCHEDULE NEW
BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS
Senator Durbin Introduces American Cures Act UPDATED
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES
House Research & Technology Subcommittee Approves FIRST Act UPDATED
EXECUTIVE BRANCH
Senate Confirms France Córdova as NSF Director NEW
--NSF Names Fay Lomax Cook of Northwestern to Head SBE Directorate NEW


CONGRESSIONAL SCHEDULE NEW

The Senate met in pro forma session today, with no votes. The House considered legislation (H.R. 4015) to address the so-called “doc fix.” The bill would repeal the sustainable growth rate used to determine Medicare payments for physicians and replace it with a new two-part payment system. The current short-term fix expires on March 31.

Both chambers will be out of session next week. The Senate is scheduled to return on Monday, March 24, when it is expected to continue work on legislation to help Ukraine and consider a bipartisan agreement to extend unemployment benefits. The House is scheduled to return on Tuesday, March 25.


BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS

SENATOR DURBIN INTRODUCES AMERICAN CURES ACT UPDATED

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) on March 12 introduced the American Cures Act (S. 2115), legislation to augment appropriations for biomedical research through a mandatory trust fund. The fund would support research conducted at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Defense Health Program, and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program. In unveiling the bill on March 11during a press conference, Senator Durbin said, “We need to close our invention and innovation deficit now.”

The goal of the American Cures Act is to provide each agency or program a funding increase of gross-domestic-product-indexed inflation plus five percent. Senator Durbin estimates the bill would provide $1.8 billion in the first year and $150 billion over 10 years.


OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES

HOUSE RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY SUBCOMMITTEE APPROVES FIRST ACT UPDATED

A subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology (SST) Committee on March 13 approved by voice vote the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act, legislation to reauthorize portions of the America COMPETES Act. The bill now moves from the Research & Technology Subcommittee to the full committee, which is expected to take up the bill in the next few weeks.

The FIRST Act (H.R. 4186), introduced on March 10 by Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), would reauthorize funding and programs for the National Science Foundation NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs. The Committee plans to reauthorize the Department of Energy Office of Science under separate legislation.

AAU issued a statement opposing the bill in advance of the subcommittee markup, and has not changed its position. The AAU statement asserts that the FIRST Act lacks the vision established by the COMPETES Act of improving America’s competitiveness through robust funding of research. It also cites provisions “that are duplicative and unnecessary, and others that add federal requirements and cost containment measures that would impede NSF’s ability to perform its mission effectively.” The statement references the Guiding Principles for the America COMPETES Act Reauthorization, published in July 2013 by a group of business, scientific, and university leaders, which called on Congress to sustain that vision.


EXECUTIVE BRANCH

SENATE CONFIRMS FRANCE CÓRDOVA AS NSF DIRECTOR NEW

The Senate on March 12 confirmed France Córdova as director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Córdova is an astrophysicist and former president of Purdue University, and serves on both the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents and the National Science Board, which oversees NSF.

Dr. Córdova was nominated for the position last summer, after then-NSF Director Subra Suresh stepped down to become president of Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Cora Marrett, deputy director of the agency, has been serving as acting director.

--NSF Names Fay Lomax Cook of Northwestern to Head SBE Directorate NEW

The National Science Foundation on March 12 named Fay Lomax Cook as the next assistant director for the Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE). Dr. Cook is a professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University, where she is also a faculty fellow in the Institute for Policy Research. She will begin her appointment in September 2014.

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