On July 20 the House Appropriations Committee approved the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bills along with its subcommittee (or "302(b)") allocations. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill (H.R. 5822) totals $77.3 billion, very slightly above the President's request, and includes $590 million (matching the President's request) for Medical and Prosthetic Research. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill totals $67.4 billion, $1.3 billion (1.9%) below the President's request. The Federal Transit Administration's Research and University Research Centers would be funded at $65.4 million, $35.7 million (120.0%) above the President's request and close to FY 2010 levels. Both appropriations bills are scheduled for consideration on the House floor this week. Also scheduled are full committee markups of the Homeland Security and the Agriculture appropriations bills.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee approved three more appropriations bills on July 22, bringing its total approved to six. The Energy and Water Development bill (S. 3635) totals $35.1 billion, $805 million (2.2%) below the President's request. The bill allocates $5.0 billion for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, $109 million (2.1%) less than the President's request; and $200 million for APRA-E, $100 million (33.3%) less than the request. The Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill (S. 3636) totals $65.1 billion, $336 million (5.1%) below the request. The bill includes $7.4 billion, $71 million (1.0%) below the request for the National Science Foundation; $19.0 billion, equaling the request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and $5.5 billion, just $2 million more than the request for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Finally, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill (S. 3644) totals $67.9 billion, $0.8 billion (1.2%) below the request. Subcommittee markups are scheduled this week for the Financial Services and the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bills.
OMB and OSTP Release S&T Guidance for FY 2012 Budgets. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director John Holdren released their annual joint memo to agency heads last week titled "Science and Technology Priorities for the FY 2012 Budget." The memo reiterates the President's long-term goal for investment in R&D to reach 3% of GDP, and encourages agencies to pursue transformational and multidisciplinary approaches aligned with six "challenges and areas to be strengthened."
Visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website
for additional news on the FY 2011 budget, to order the AAAS Report XXXV: Research and Development FY 2011
, or to download presentation slides or audio from the Forum.
Other Congressional News
Senate Leader Drops Plans to Address Comprehensive Energy Bill For Now. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced his intention to move forward on a bill that responds to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and contains limited energy provisions but does not include a price on carbon or a renewable electricity standard. He did not rule out the possibility of continuing discussions on a carbon cap later in the session. (China's plans for a carbon trading program are discussed below.)
Senate Committee Approves America COMPETES Act. On July 22 the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee marked up and approved by voice vote the America COMPETES Act (S. 3605). The committee also approved 20 amendments to the original draft introduced the previous week (see July 19 Policy Alert), including one that would reduce the levels of funding for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology. The bill initially included authorized funding levels higher than in the House counterpart.
House Committee Approves NASA Reauthorization Bill. On July 22 the House Science and Technology Committee approved a three-year NASA authorization bill (H.R. 5781). Like the Senate, the House bill adds one additional Shuttle flight to service the International Space Station (ISS) and extends the ISS through 2020. The legislation affirms the use of commercial launch vehicles but calls on NASA to present a restructured exploration program that would demonstrate how the agency plans to utilize technologies already designed through the Ares and Orion launch vehicle projects. The House bill authorizes only $150 million over three years for commercial crew transportation, whereas the Senate bill would authorize $1.3 billion over three years. Both are lower than the White House request of $3.3 billion.
GAO Investigates Genetic Testing Companies. The Government Accountability Office has released a report on its investigation of major direct-to-consumer genetic test companies. During a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's investigations panel, GAO representative Gregory Kutz described the very different results that four major companies returned, based on samples from the same customers. He also played telephone recordings featuring company representatives providing scientifically inaccurate or legally questionable advice to customers. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) representative Jeff Shuren described the agency's recent efforts to regulate the tests, and officials from several major gene test companies also testified, elaborating on their practices and standards for analyzing the DNA samples they receive.
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Food Safety Bill Stalled. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), architect of a major food safety bill that passed the House last July, sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) expressing frustration over her intention to add to the Senate version of the bill (S. 510) a provision banning the controversial chemical bisphenol A from food and drink containers. Industry groups have threatened to pull support for the bill over the proposed ban, and Dingell believes Feinstein's efforts will hurt the bill's chances of passing the Senate. The overall bill would strengthen the FDA's authority to police the nation's food supply.
House Committee to Hold Public Access Hearing. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to examine the issue of public access to federally funded research on July 29.House Passes Homeland Security S&T Bill.
The House has approved H.R. 4842
, a bill to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. Among the bill's many provisions is a mandate for a new office focusing on outreach to the private sector and an authorization that would double the cybersecurity R&D budget.
New Ocean Policy Announced. On July 19 President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes. The Executive Order adopts the Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, including establishing an interagency National Ocean Council comprised of representatives of nearly two dozen federal agencies and offices. The Order lays out ten broad policy objectives for using, protecting, restoring, and increasing our scientific understanding of the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes, and outlines the mechanisms for promoting those goals. It also calls for marine and coastal spatial plans based on ecosystem management in each of nine regions.
HHS Constructing CER Catalog. The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking comment until August 9 on its plan to build an online comparative effectiveness research inventory, funded by ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, i.e., "stimulus") money, that would detail studies comparing medical interventions.People in the News. - Alan Guttmacher
has been named director of the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, moving up from acting director. - Timothy P. Condon
, recently Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will assume duties as Science Policy Advisor in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy on August 2.
China Becomes World's Largest Energy User, Announces Cap and Trade. A new International Energy Agency analysis found that that China overtook the U.S. as the world's largest energy consumer in 2009. China's energy demand has doubled over the past decade and is expected to continue to grow in coming years. In related news, China plans to implement a domestic carbon trading program beginning in 2011 to help it meet its 2020 goal of reducing carbon intensity (carbon emissions per unit of economic growth) by 40-45% from 2005 levels.
International Agreements at Clean Energy Ministerial. Ministers from 24 nations attending the inaugural Clean Energy Ministerial, representing 80% of global energy consumption, agreed to a host of nonbinding measures aimed at increasing energy efficiency, accelerating deployment of clean energy sources, and expanding access to clean energy sources.
Harvard to Implement New Conflict-of-Interest Rules. Under rules that go into effect Jan. 1, 2011, the Harvard Medical School will prohibit its faculty from giving promotional talks for drug and medical device makers or from taking gifts, travel and meals from such firms. Harvard has come under congressional scrutiny for faculty ties to drug and medical device makers. The new conflict-of-interest rules also place stricter limits on the income faculty can earn for consulting, joining boards, and other outside work.
Scientists Report Experiencing, Responding to Misconduct: A study of 2,600 scientists funded by 15 federal agencies finds that 84% have experienced incidents of misconduct over their careers. Nearly two-thirds (63%) took some form of action, mostly informal, with nearly half of those reporting a good outcome. Responding to Research Wrongdoing was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the NIH Office of Research Integrity.
Google Charged with Breaching Lawmakers' Home Networks. Google, Inc. is playing down reports that it may have breached personal Wi-Fi networks at the residences of some members of Congress, including some working on national security issues. Google says it "accidentally" included code capable of collecting such information while its vehicles were collecting wireless information for its "Street View" service. The company says it has removed the code and stopped collecting any Wi-Fi data.
Report Says U.S. Trails in College-Completion Rates. In a report released July 22, the College Board highlighted the U.S.'s fall from world leader in the 1980s to its current ranking of 12th among 36 developed nations in college-completion rates.
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