AAU Weekly Wrap-up
August 1, 2014
BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, AND TAX ISSUES
Congress Punts FY15 Funding Decisions to the Fall NEW
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES
Senators Introduce America COMPETES Act Reauthorization Bill NEW
Identical Bills Aimed at Campus Sexual Assaults Introduced in House and Senate UPDATED
OSTP and NEC Request Comments on Administration’s Strategy for American Innovation
Associations Comment on USPTO Guidance on Patenting Natural Products
Organizations Renew Call For Policymakers to Close the Innovation Deficit UPDATED
BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, AND TAX ISSUES
CONGRESS PUNTS FY15 FUNDING DECISIONS TO THE FALL NEW
As Congress prepares to begin its five-week summer recess, it does so without having approved any of the FY15 appropriations bills. The ongoing impasse between the House and Senate is expected to require approval of a short-term continuing resolution (CR), which would carry federal spending at its current levels into early December, following the mid-term November elections.
So far, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved eight of its 12 FY15 funding bills, but none has been approved by the full Senate. The Interior-Environment bill has not been considered in subcommittee, but the Senate panel has released draft subcommittee bills and reports for the Energy & Water, Labor-HHS-Education, and Financial Services bills.
The House Appropriations Committee has approved 11 of its bills—all but Labor-HHS-Education—with full House approval of seven: Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Energy & Water, Financial Services, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-Veterans, and Transportation.
The latest information on AAU’s funding priorities can be viewed here.
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES
SENATORS INTRODUCE AMERICA COMPETES ACT REAUTHORIZATION BILL NEW
A group of six Democratic Senators, led by Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), on July 31 introduced the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014. The committee had released a draft of the legislation earlier to solicit ideas and recommendations.
The measure has similarities to the COMPETES Acts of 2007 and 2010, and includes some of the key themes and principles found in the Guiding Principles for the America COMPETES Act Reauthorization, a document endorsed by more than 100 organizations, including AAU, in 2013.
The new bill is a five-year reauthorization (FY15 through FY19) that includes funding authorizations for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as policy provisions for NSF, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs.
IDENTICAL BILLS AIMED AT CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULTS INTRODUCED IN HOUSE AND SENATE UPDATED
This week, bipartisan groups in both the House and Senate introduced legislation aimed at mitigating sexual assaults on college campuses.
At a press conference on July 30, a group of eight Senators introduced the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA). The following day, a group of 18 House members, led by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) introduced the companion bill in the House. The website of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) says the bill would:
1. Establish new campus resources and support services for student survivors
2. Ensure minimum training standards for on-campus personnel
3. Create new transparency requirements
4. Increase campus accountability and coordination with law enforcement
5. Establish enforceable Title IX penalties and stiffer penalties for Clery Act violations
OSTP AND NEC REQUEST COMMENTS ON ADMINISTRATION’S STRATEGY FOR AMERICAN INNOVATION
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Economic Council (NEC) are seeking public comments on the Administration’s Strategy for American Innovation. Comments are due on September 23, 2014.
According to a July 29 Federal Register notice, OSTP and NEC are seeking detailed recommendations on a range of innovation policy topics. These are: overarching questions; innovation trends; science, technology, and research & development priorities; skilled workforce development; manufacturing and entrepreneurship; regional innovation ecosystems; intellectual property/antitrust; novel government tools for promoting innovation; and national priorities. The notice contains detailed questions on each of the topics listed.
ASSOCIATIONS COMMENT ON USPTO GUIDANCE ON PATENTING NATURAL PRODUCTS
Four higher education associations, including AAU, submitted comments to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on July 28 expressing strong concerns about the agency’s guidance memorandum on determining which natural phenomena and products are eligible to be considered for a patent. The Supreme Court, in its Mayo v. Prometheus decision in March 2012, left open the possibility of patenting particular, useful applications of a law of nature. The associations argue that the USPTO guidance is “overly broad” and contravenes the Court’s warning against over-interpreting this and other rulings in a way that might stifle innovation.
AAU, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of University Technology Managers, and the Council on Governmental Relations urge the USPTO to carefully consider this and other objections, and to “revise the Guidance appropriately in a way that directly addresses and is clearly consistent with the narrow rulings of the Supreme Court and supports the business community and economic development in the various States.”
ORGANIZATIONS RENEW CALL FOR POLICYMAKERS TO CLOSE THE INNOVATION DEFICIT UPDATED
One year after they launched a campaign to urge Congress and the President to close the nation’s innovation deficit, a group of prominent university, scientific, and business organizations yesterday renewed their call for increased federal investments in research to build a strong long-term economy, improve medical treatments, and strengthen national security. The organizations conducted a nationwide effort to communicate the need to close the innovation deficit. Their call for increased federal investments in innovation was amplified by university presidents and others around the country.
Among the campaign’s activities is a new animated cartoon (GIF) featuring Uncle Sam. He is seen going from happiness to dismay as Congress slows the funding for research and the illuminated sign above his head changes from “INNOVATION” to “NO.” Additional infographics, charts, graphs, and statements about the Innovation Deficit are also available on the site.
The innovation deficit is the widening gap between actual and needed federal investments in research and higher education at a time when other nations such as China, India, and Singapore are dramatically boosting research funding to develop the next great technological and medical breakthroughs to power their economies forward.