As Congress heads into its summer recess, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved nine of twelve appropriation bills, but none have reached the Senate floor. The House has passed two bills, and another nine have been approved by the appropriations subcommittee. Deviating from precedent, the House has allowed amendments during appropriation subcommittee markups with the hope of streamlining full committee approval.
The Senate passed two spending bills last week, just before heading home for the month. H.R.1586 provides $26.1 billion in state aid, $10 billion for teacher's salaries and $16.1 billion for Medicaid reimbursements. H.R.5875 provides $600 million for Southwest border security, reduced from the original $701 million. The House returns from recess August 10 to vote on these bills. [UPDATE: The House voted 247-161 to pass H.R. 1586]
The Senate passed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Reauthorization Bill (S.3729) bill last Thursday. The bill authorizes $19.0 billion, $19.45 billion, and $19.96 billion for NASA for fiscal years 2011-2013 respectively. It supports many of the President's controversial changes, but at a more conservative pace. Instead of complete cancellation of the Constellation program, elements of the Ares I and Orion projects will be used for exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit and eventually deep-space destinations with international collaboration. This includes the development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle and crew vehicle capable of exploration beyond low-Earth orbit by 2016. Launch vehicle development will continue under an expanded Commercial Crew Development Program with procurement beginning in FY 2012 pending appropriate study and review. The International Space Station was extended until 2020 and a shuttle mission was added to resupply the space station in FY 2011.
Visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website
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, download presentation slides or audio from the Forum, and get additional news on the FY 2011 budget.
Other Congressional News
Great Ape Protection Act Introduced in Senate. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA, S. 3694) on August 3, a companion bill to the House version (H.R. 1326). GAPA would prohibit the conduct of invasive research on great apes (e.g., chimpanzees) and would provide for the retirement of all great apes supported by federal funds. The AAAS Board of Directors released a statement opposing the House bill in 2009.
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House Passes FACA Bill. On July 26 the House of Representatives passed a bill to strengthen transparency and conflict of interest requirements for federal advisory committees. Sponsored by William "Lacy" Clay, Jr. (D-MO), the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 2010 (H.R.1320) requires appointments to advisory committees to be made without regard to political affiliation and requires disclosure of a number of items, including committee charters, transcripts, and decision-making processes.
Infobrief on R&D Employment. The NSF has released an Infobrief on research and development (R&D) employment statistics based on preliminary data from the 2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey (developed jointly by NSF and the U.S. Census Bureau). It states that in 2008, U.S. companies that performed or funded R&D domestically or overseas reported $346 billion of company-performed R&D worldwide, of which $283 billion (82%) was performed in the United States. These companies employed an estimated 18.5 million domestic workers in the U.S. (27.1 million workers worldwide), of whom 1.5 million (1.9 million worldwide) are employees who perform or directly support R&D activities.
Forest Service Plans for Climate Change. The U.S. Forest Service released its National Roadmap for Responding to Climate Change, which identifies ways the agency can develop capacity and build partnerships to incorporate climate change adaptation and mitigation into its activities.
Interagency MOUs on Energy & Climate. The Departments of Energy and Defense have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen coordination of efforts to enhance national energy security and work towards a low carbon economy. Separately, the Departments of Commerce and the Interior have signed an MOU to cooperate on and coordinate climate-related activities involving "science, services, mitigation, adaptation, education and communication." DOE Phase 2 Carbon Capture Program.
the second phase of funding for six pilot projects to demonstrate the development of products such as fuel, plastics, cement and fertilizers from industrial carbon dioxide emissions. Using $106 million of stimulus funding matched with $156 million of private funds, the selected pilot projects will shift to construction and operation of their concepts and evaluate the "technical and economic feasibility of applying them commercially."
U.K. Health Minister Proposes Streamlining Health Agencies. In an effort to reduce government spending, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has proposed abolishing and/or consolidating 18 health agencies to "between eight and ten." Included in the list of agencies slated for cuts are Britain's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which has authority over in-vitro fertilization and embryonic stem cell research, and Health Protection Agency (HPA), which has authority over infectious diseases.
People: - The White House announced a number of science and technology-related nominations this past week including Cora B. Marrett to serve as the Deputy Director at the National Science Foundation, where she is currently serving as acting Director and Scott Doney, a Senior Scientist in the Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), to serve as the new Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In other news, after serving as interim director since September 2009, Doug Beard has been selected as the chief of the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. Before coming to the USGS, he held fishery management positions in the Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources. Letitia "Tish" Long has been sworn in as Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Long, former Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), will be the first woman to head a major intelligence agency.
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NOTE: The AAAS Policy Alert is a newsletter provided to AAAS Members to inform them of developments in science and technology policy that may be of interest. Information in the Policy Alert is gathered from published news reports, unpublished documents, and personal communications. Although the information contained in this newsletter is regarded as reliable, it is provided only for the convenience and private use of our members. Comments and suggestions regarding the Policy Alert are welcome. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.