The House and Senate are finalizing legislation for a continuing resolution (CR) that will extend funding for the federal government, likely through mid-November when Congress is scheduled to assemble for a post-election lame duck work session. Votes on the CR could come as early as this Tuesday in the Senate and Wednesday in the House.
In related news, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) stated her intent to block the nomination of Jacob Lew to serve as the new director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) until the moratorium for deepwater drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico is lifted or "significantly modified." The hold on Lew's nomination comes at a critical juncture of the budget process as OMB and federal agencies prepare their FY 2012 budget requests.
Visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website to order the AAAS Report XXXV: Research and Development FY 2011, download presentation slides or audio from the Forum, and get additional news on the FY 2011 budget.
Other Congressional News
Senate Committee Approves Nomination of NSF Director. Last week the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the nomination of Subra Suresh to be the new NSF Director. The nomination now must go to the Senate floor for a vote.
New Senate Bill on Renewable Electricity. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Sam Brownback (R-K) introduced a bill (S. 3813) to establish a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). The legislation would require sellers of electricity to obtain 15 percent of their electric supply from renewable energy resources by 2021. The bill is similar to language in the American Clean Energy Leadership Act (S. 1462) that passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year but was never voted on by the full Senate.
House Passes Clinical Trials Bill. On September 23 the House passed and sent to the President for his signature the "Improving Access to Clinical Trials Act of 2009" (S. 1674) that is intended to facilitate participation in clinical trials for rare diseases. It would exclude up to $2,000 a year in compensation for participating in such trials from income calculated to determine eligibility for Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. The bill passed the Senate in August.
House S&T Committee Moves Legislation. Last week the House Science and Technology Committee marked up a number of bills including the Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act of 2010 (H.R. 6160) to establish an R&D program for advancing technology necessary for mining and manufacturing of 17 rare earth materials critical to advanced consumer and military technologies.
- The Committee also passed the Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act H.R. 5866 in an effort to strengthen the nuclear industry and improve long-term waste management.
- Finally, the Committee released compromise legislative language for the NASA Reauthorization Act. The compromise language will reduce funding for Robotic Precursors, increase funding for Commercial Cargo and Crew Development, and maintains the additional Space Shuttle flight, among other things.
House Hearing on Science of Science and Innovation Policy. Last week Albert Teich, director of AAAS's Science and Policy Programs, joined three other witnesses in testifying before the House Subcommittee on Research and Science Education on NSF's Science of Science and Innovation Policy, noting that the impact of S&T Policy has proved to be "just as unpredictable as basic research in physics, chemistry, or life sciences." Written testimony and an archived copy of the webcast can be found on the Committee's web site.
U.S. Competitiveness: At a Senate press conference, the National Academies released a revised report as a follow-up to the original Rising Above the Gathering Storm study, entitled Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited. The event included presentations from National Academy of Sciences President Ralph Cicerone and National Academy of Engineering President Charles Vest, as well as Norman Augustine, all of whom emphasized that in the last five years, the outlook for a globally competitive U.S. has worsened and one of the greatest causes for concern is the dismal state of K-12 education. Speakers urged passage of and funding for the America COMPETES Act.
Vice President Meets with University Presidents. Vice President Joe Biden hosted a roundtable meeting with OSTP director John Holdren, six university presidents, and the heads of the Association of American Universities and Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities to discuss the critical role of academic research and why it was important to provide $18 billion in federal research and development (R&D) as part of the stimulus act.
Appeals Court Hears Stem Cell Arguments. On September 27 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments from each side in the case surrounding last month's injunction on federally funded human embryonic stem cell research. Judges Thomas B. Griffith, Judith W. Rogers and Brett M. Kavanaugh presided, but gave no indication on when they plan to issue a decision.
Board to Oversee Comparative Effectiveness Research Announced. The Government Accountability Office has named the 19 inaugural members of the board overseeing the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the new comparative effectiveness research center created by the recent healthcare reform bill. UCLA's Eugene Washington will serve as chairman.
Report on NOAA's Climate Service Proposal. A panel of the National Academy of Public Administration released a report on how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) could best organize its climate science and service activities within a newly proposed office: the NOAA Climate Service. The panel strongly supports the creation of the Climate Service and recommends the expansion of climate services to state, local, and tribal governments. In related news, webinars to discuss the draft NOAA Climate Service Strategic Vision and Framework will be held for the academic research community as well as non-governmental and non-profit organizations on September 29 and 30, respectively.
Administration Continues to Tackle New Biodefense Overhaul. Last month, the Administration revealed its intention to establish a new entity within the federal government that would be responsible for certifying whether small biotechnology companies that seek contracts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or the HHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop vaccines and drugs against biological threats are indeed financially stable. To reduce duplicate investments in medical countermeasure development, DoD and HHS have also developed a joint program for supporting research and development of products that can be used in civilian and military capacities. The new entity is intended to streamline the path from basic research to production.
Inaugural Meeting of NRC Committee on Research Universities. On September 21, the National Research Council (NRC) held the first meeting of the Committee on Research Universities. The goal of the committee, whose membership includes AAAS Chair Peter Agre and AAAS Board Member Cherry Murray, is to develop a set of ten recommendations for ensuring that U.S. universities maintain "excellence in research and doctoral education." The next meeting will be November 23, 2010.
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UCAR to Release National Climate Adaptation Report. On September 29 the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) will release a report that provides recommendations for national and regional preparations for adapting to climate change. The report is the result of a National Climate Adaptation Summit organized by UCAR in May 2010. Dr. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), will participate at the report's release, which will be held at AAAS and will also be Webcast.
L'Oreal/AAAS Releases Survey on Women in Science. The results of a survey of 1,300 female and male scientists on career development found that 98 percent of female respondents knew a colleague who left the field because of barriers to professional success. The survey was conducted by AAAS at the request of L'Oréal USA. The findings were presented by AAAS Education and Human Resources director Shirley Malcom at a September 23 congressional briefing.
Computer Virus Attacks Iranian Nuclear Facility. A malicious computer code has been infecting industrial systems all over the world, but seems to be especially widespread in Iran. Stuxnet is a worm sophisticated enough that experts believe it may have been developed with state-support or by a well-funded private entity. There is speculation that it was designed to target Iran's soon-to-start nuclear power plant, where the infection has been reported.
People in the News. Cathy Zoi, DOE's Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, will begin serving as Acting Under Secretary of Energy next month when current Under Secretary of Energy Kristina Johnson steps down to return to her academic career.
- Dr. Robert M. Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities, announced his retirement effective May 2011.
- Paul Thacker, the key staffer behind Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley's investigations into conflicts of interest among doctors and researchers, has moved on to the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, where he will continue his investigative work.
Archived issues of AAAS Policy Alert can be found at http://www.aaas.org/spp/policyalert.
Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Joanne Carney
Contributors: Phillip Chalker, Patrick Clemins, Ed Derrick, Erin Heath, Tom Henning, Earl Lane, Gretchen Seiler, Al Teich, Kasey White, Brad Wible
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.