Senate Democrats hope to address the $75 billion emergency supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 4899) during the week of July 19, but the last week of July is more likely. The additional $16.2 billion in domestic spending added by the House puts passage of the bill by the Senate in question, but Senate leaders might force a vote anyway, since a failed vote would send a message to House Members that they may have to accept the original Senate version without the additional spending.
House appropriations subcommittees approved three appropriations bills last week: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, at $151.4 billion, or $1.5 billion (1.0%) below the President's request; Energy and Water, at $34.7 billion, or $675 million (1.9%) below the request; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, at $77.3 billion, very slightly above the request. NIH would receive $32.0 billion, matching the President's request, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Research program would receive $590 million, also equaling the request. The Department of Energy's Office of Science would receive $4.9 billion, or $221 million (4.3%) below the request, while ARPA-E would receive $220 million, or $80 million (26.7%) less than the request.
In the Senate, the full Appropriations Committee approved appropriations bills for Homeland Security, at $43.8 billion, or $100 million (0.2%) below the request; Agriculture, at $22.9 billion, or $27 million (0.1%) below the request; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, at $77.3 billion, very slightly below the request. In DHS, the Science and Technology Directorate would receive $1.0 billion, or $10 million (1.0%) above the request; and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office's Research, Development, and Operations program would receive $323 million, or $6 million (1.9%) above the request. The Agricultural Research Service would receive $1.25 billion, or $27 million (2.2%) above the request, but the National Institute of Food and Agriculture would be funded at $1.31 billion, or $184 million (12.3%) below the request. The VA's Medical Research program would be funded at $590 million, as requested.
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Other Congressional News
America COMPETES Introduced in Senate. On July 15 Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, introduced legislation to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act (S. 3605). The Senate bill differs from its House counterpart (H.R. 5116) in several ways. First, the Senate bill only provides authorization for three years rather than five and focuses on funding existing programs rather than authorizing funds for new programs. The bill would still authorize increases to the R&D budgets for the National Science Foundation (rising from $8.25 billion in 2011 to $9.94 billion in 2013) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (rising from $1.0 billion in 2011 to $1.13 billion in 2013). It also includes sections related to NASA and NOAA that were in the original 2007 COMPETES Act. It does not include a section on the DOE Office of Science, which is outside of that Committee's jurisdiction. The Senate version, however, does retain language in the House bill to create a new Interagency Public Access Committee, a working group that would be established by OSTP under the National Science and Technology Council "to coordinate Federal science agency policies related to the dissemination and long-term stewardship of the results of unclassified federally funded research."
Senate Committee Approves NASA Reauthorization Bill. On July 15 the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed a NASA authorization bill that attempts to provide a compromise between the President's new vision for NASA and that of Members of Congress who object to it. The legislation includes cancellation of the Constellation launch vehicle program, part of the President's FY 2011 budget request, but directs NASA to begin development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle by 2011 (rather than 2015). It also states that NASA should extend "existing contracts necessary to carry out this title to limit termination liability and other costs associated with this title." The Senate bill would also add one additional Shuttle flight to service the International Space Station and would extend the station's life through 2020. Finally, the bill calls upon the National Academies to conduct an assessment of the White House national space plan with respect to human spaceflight and exploration.
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Bill to Advance Carbon Storage Introduced. Coal state Senators Rockefeller (D-WV) and Voinovich (R-OH) have introduced the Carbon Capture and Storage Deployment Act of 2010 (S. 3589), which would invest $20 billion over the next ten years to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The bill would support large-scale CCS pilot projects and establish a regulatory framework to monitor and govern long-term geological storage of carbon. The bill may be included in the Senate's climate and energy package.House Committee Approves Oil Spill R&D Legislation.
On July 14 the House Science and Technology Committee
approved two bills to strengthen federal research into technologies that could assist in future oil spill cleanups. Both the Safer Oil and Natural Gas Drilling Technology Research and Development Act
(H.R. 5716), and the Oil Pollution Research and Development Program Reauthorization Act of 2010
(H.R. 2693) were approved by voice vote.
Commerce Department Announces Members of Innovation Advisory Council. On July 13 Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke announced the membership of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE). The group, which includes entrepreneurs, investors, university presidents, and non-profit leaders, "will support President Obama's innovation strategy by helping to develop policies that foster entrepreneurship and identifying new ways to take great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth and create jobs." The co-chairs are Steve Case, Chairman and CEO, Revolution and co-founder, AOL; Mary Sue Coleman, President, University of Michigan; and Desh Deshpande, Chairman, A123 Systems and other firms.
BP Accused of Seeking to Limit Gulf Scientists' Publications. The Mobile (AL) Press-Register reports that BP is offering lucrative contracts to marine scientists from the Gulf Coast region to conduct research on the oil spill -- but with strings attached. According to the report, at least one contract "prohibits the scientists from publishing their research, sharing it with other scientists or speaking about the data that they collect for at least the next three years." Academic researchers under contract to BP would also be unable to accept support from federal agencies for work related to the spill.
Columbia Brain Center Suspends Research Following Allegations. Columbia University has suspended research and reassigned top managers at its brain-imaging center after Food and Drug Administration investigators found that center staff had repeatedly violated agency regulations -- in particular, that they had injected patients with drugs containing potentially dangerous impurities.
Ireland Maintains Support for R&D. Despite a troubled national economy, Ireland's government announced a total investment of €359 million in research, the largest research investment in the country's history. Including €62.6 million from private sources, Cycle 5 of the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions will support infrastructure and research projects in higher education institutions from 2011 to 2016.
Nations Agree on Cyber Security Initiatives. A group of countries, including the U.S., Russia, China, and 12 others, convened at the United Nations, has recommended a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the threat of cyber warfare. This was the first time that such an agreement has been reached and reflected a new willingness on the part of the U.S. to engage with other nations on issues of government involvement in intrusions into critical computer systems. The group recommended that the U.N. take steps to encourage international exchange of information on laws and national cyber security strategies and that it develop norms of acceptable behavior in cyberspace. When and how the U.N. intends to follow up on these recommendations has not yet been announced.
AAAS S&T Policy Programs on Twitter. The Center for Science, Technology and Congress (CSTC) has joined the R&D Budget and Policy Program on Twitter©. You can follow CSTC at http://twitter.com/aaas_cstc and the R&D Budget Program at https://twitter.com/AAAS_RDBudget.
People in the News. - West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has selected Carte Goodwin, Manchin's general counsel from 2005 to 2009, to fill the seat of the late Senator Robert Byrd only until November, when a special election will be held to determine who will serve the final two years of Byrd's term. Manchin has expressed interest in running in the special election.
- Stephen Schneider, a leading climate change scientist and science communicator, died on July 19 at the age of 65.
- Harold Varmus, a former NIH Director and recently president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, was sworn in as head of the National Cancer Institute on July 12.
- Nobel laureate Paul Nurse, president of The Rockefeller University since 2003, has agreed to be the first director and chief executive of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation. He will take up his new post on January 1, 2011. He has also been elected the next President of the Royal Society.
- Gabriela Chavarria, until recently director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Science Center, has been named Science Advisor to the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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