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AAU WEEKLY WRAP-UP

 June 6, 2014   

 

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CONTENTS

CONGRESSIONAL SCHEDULE   NEW
BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, AND TAX ISSUES
Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY15 C-J-S Funding Bill   UPDATED
--AAU Issues Statement about Senate FY15 C-J-S Funding Bill   NEW
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES
House Subcommittee Chair to Introduce Energy Research Reauthorization Bill   NEW
EXECUTIVE BRANCH
AAAS-AAU-APLU-FBI Group Publishes Report on Personnel Issues in Biosecurity
OTHER
New Science Coalition Online Toolkit on Importance of Federal Research Support   NEW

 

CONGRESSIONAL SCHEDULE   NEW

 Neither chamber met today; both will reconvene on Monday, June 9. The Senate next week will consider judicial and executive branch appointments; the House schedule has not been announced.   

 

BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, AND TAX ISSUES

 SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVES FY15 COMMERCE-JUSTICE-SCIENCE FUNDING BILL    UPDATED

 The Senate Appropriations Committee on June 5 approved its FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science (C-J-S) funding bill. At $51.2 billion, the bill reflects a reduction of $398 million from the FY14 level and equals the House-passed level. 

 NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (NSF): The bill provides $7.2 billion for NSF, which is $83 million above the FY14 funding level, equal to the President’s FY15 request, and $200 million below the House-passed FY15 level. 

 The measure would allocate $5.8 billion for Research and Related Activities; the House-approved level is $5.9 billion. Education and Human Resources would be funded at $889.7 million, which is $13.7 million above the House level. Both House and Senate bills would fund the Major Research and Equipment and Facilities Construction Directorate at $200.7 million, which is $100,000 less than the Administration’s request of $200.8 million.

 Regarding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, the committee report language says: 

  “The Committee believes that NSF is well suited to handle undergraduate and graduate fellow­ships, internships, and specific grants similar to its current mission and, if there are general needs across Government, that NSF could similarly serve as a clearinghouse for such students. However, the Committee remains concerned that moving all or too many graduate related fellowships and scholarships to NSF will not meet the long-term, mission-specific, STEM workforce needs of the entire Government.

 The Committee requests that NSF continue to work with OSTP on refining a plan for ways NSF could implement a broader program for graduate and undergraduate programs across the entire Federal Government, and to identify which programs across Government could benefit from such a program.”

 NASA:  The Senate bill provides $17.9 billion for the space agency, which is $254 million above the FY14 level, $439 million above the President’s FY15 request, and the same as the House-approved level. 

 Within that total, the bill includes $5.2 billion for the Science Mission Directorate, which is $7 million above the House level; $580.2 million for Space Technology, which is $39.8 million below the House level of $620 million; and $551 million for Aeronautics, which is $115 million below the House level of $666 million. The Senate bill would fund Space Grant at $40 million, which is $10 million more than the House level of $30 million.

 Both the House and Senate committee reports disagree with the Administration’s plan to terminate the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).  The Senate report language recommends funding SOFIA at $87 million in FY15; the House report language calls for $70 million.

 In addition, the committee report strongly recommends that NASA seek to “reinstate a balanced space program that adequately funds science, space exploration, and aeronautics,” and makes clear that granting NASA some spending flexibility does not give the space agency “license to disregard Congress’ choices about where limited resources should be spent.” 

 

--AAU Issues Statement about Senate FY15 C-J-S Funding Bill   NEW

AAU issued a statement about the Senate bill on June 6, which expressed support for the funding level approved for NASA by the Senate Appropriations Committee, but said that the association would continue to work with Congress to help ensure that the final appropriation for NSF is at the higher House-approved level.  The statement added:

 “This year’s appropriations process and the threat of sequestration next year should make clear how important it is that Congress and the President achieve a long-term budget agreement. Such an agreement should eliminate sequestration and substantially revise the discretionary spending caps. It also should address long-term deficits by reforming the entitlement programs that contribute most to the problem – in ways that do not harm the most vulnerable – and by reforming taxes to spur economic growth and raise additional revenues.”


OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIR TO INTRODUCE ENERGY RESEARCH REAUTHORIZATION BILL   NEW 

Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), chair of the House Science Subcommittee on Energy, has announced that she will soon introduce and mark up in subcommittee a reauthorization bill for research and development programs at several Department of Energy (DOE) offices.

The measure will incorporate both the EINSTEIN Act (reauthorization of the DOE Office of Science) and reauthorization of R&D programs in the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE), Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, Energy Delivery & Energy Reliability, and ARPA-E. Highlights of the legislation are included in a one-page document provided by the subcommittee. 

Among other provisions, the bill would:

 --authorize a five-percent increase for the DOE Office of Science in FY15, with program-level authorizations;

--reduce authorized funding for EERE programs by $486 million, or 29 percent;

--reduce authorized funding for ARPA-E by $40 million and remove climate goals and insert “safeguards to protect taxpayer funds;” and

--provide $232 million in deficit reduction.   

  

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

 AAAS-AAU-APLU-FBI GROUP PUBLISHES REPORT ON PERSONNEL ISSUES IN BIOSECURITY

A group of FBI and association representatives that have been working together on biosecurity issues has published the report from the last of its five workshops, this one on personnel issues in biosecurity.  Previous reports dealt with security risks of biological research in academia (2010), dual use review and oversight (2012), implementing select agent and toxin regulations (2013), and international science and security (2013).

 The project, “Bridging Science and Security for Biological Research,” was initiated four years ago by the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMD). Working with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in collaboration with AAU and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the WMD Directorate held a series of five workshops with the research, policy, and security communities to discuss outreach and policy issues in biosecurity.  The goal was to share and summarize in a series of reports the lessons learned, challenges faced, and areas for improvement in local and national biosecurity initiatives. 


OTHER

 New Science Coalition Online Toolkit on Importance of Federal Research Support      NEW

 The Science Coalition (TSC) has created an online website, www.sciencematters2.me, which provides a variety of resources for helping explain the importance of federal support of research. The website includes background on federal research funding; reports on the benefits of federally funded research in creation of new technologies, economic development, and jobs; success stories; state-by-state listings of federal research funding by agency; and useful infographics and charts.


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