Budget NewsHouse Passes H.R.1 With Over $60 Billion in Cuts.
Early on Feb. 19, the House passed H.R.1, which represents the House Republican proposal for FY 2011 funding levels. The bill would cut discretionary spending by $61.5 billion from FY 2010 levels. Sixty-seven amendments were accepted and passed (out of a total of over 580 proposed) during more than 60 hours of debate on the bill. Of the amendments passed, the most significant for R&D funding include a $298 million transfer from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Cross-Agency Support to the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program; a $510 million transfer (50.7% of its FY 2010 enacted budget) from the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology programs to the Firefighter SAFER grants in DHS's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); and several amendments prohibiting the use of federal funds for implementing of a number of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations as well as other environmental programs. Those cuts include EPA's greenhouse gas registry, greenhouse gas regulation, NOAA's Climate Service, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), offshore drilling, mountaintop mining, mercury emissions from cement plants, and Chesapeake Bay cleanup. The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy
a few days before the House action, strongly opposing H.R. 1 and saying that the President would veto any spending bill containing such cuts.
A final bill requires Senate agreement, and Senate Democrats have begun to write their own funding bill with a funding level consistent with President Obama's non-security discretionary funding freeze. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and others have requested a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to provide more time for negotiating a compromise between H.R.1 and the forthcoming Senate bill. However, both House Majority Leader Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) stated last week that they would not support a short-term CR, greatly increasing the likelihood of a government shutdown when the current CR expires on March 4. Both Democrats and Republicans have generally stated that they do not want a government shutdown, but unless Congress quickly negotiates a compromise or unless Republicans agree to a short-term CR, the government will not have any appropriated funds after March 4.
Slides from presentations on R&D in the FY 2011 and FY 2012 budgets at the AAAS Annual Meeting last weekend are available at the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website
. House Hearing on FY 2012 R&D.
John Holdren, in his capacity as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, testified on the President's proposed FY 2012 research and development (R&D) budget at a House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing
on Feb. 17. Although Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) acknowledged that investments in R&D can yield future economic gains, he questioned the value of investing in some areas such as climate science and stated the need to eliminate duplicative and wasteful programs.
Other Congressional NewsSenate Bill Addresses Rare-Earth Minerals.
On Feb. 17 Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced the Critical Minerals and Materials Promotion Act of 2011
(S. 383, text not submitted) requiring the Department of Energy to conduct R&D into critical materials and to secure a steady domestic supply chain. Rare-earth minerals are primarily imported from China and are increasingly in demand for high-tech products such as cell phones, solar cells, and electric cars. In related news, the American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society released
a report, Energy Critical Elements: Securing Materials for Emerging Technologies,
at the AAAS Annual Meeting that listed the total number of elements that the organizations considered "energy-critical elements." The report also recommends a multi-faceted approach, including R&D, for securin g a dome stic supply of elements. Senate Holds Hearing on SBIR/STTR Reauthorization.
Last week the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, led by Committee Chair Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Ranking Member Olympia Snowe (R-ME), held a hearing
to discuss reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer programs (STTR). The SBIR/STTR programs have been operating under a series of short-term authorization bills. The committee heard testimony from several witnesses, including a representative of the National Academies on its report
, An Assessment of the SBIR Program
. Bingaman Will Not Seek Re-election.
Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) announced that he will not seek re-election for a sixth term in the United States Senate in 2012. Senator Bingaman chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has played a crucial role in building bipartisan support for energy legislation.
Executive BranchNSF Statistics Unit Revamped, Renamed.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced
last week that its Division of Science Resources Statistics (SRS) was being renamed and given broader responsibilities, in keeping with requirements of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. It is now called the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), and is one of 13 federal statistical centers. It "will serve as a central federal clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, analysis and dissemination of objective data on science, engineering, technology and research and development." In addition to this core function, NCSES will have an expanded set of responsibilities including "collection of data related to U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and to U.S. competitiveness in science, engineering, technology and research and development." Study of Recalled Medical Devices Criticizes Approval Process.
According to a recent study
reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine
, more than 70% of medical devices that the Food and Drug Administration recalled from 2005 to 2009 had been approved for market under an abbreviated 510(k) review process, as opposed to the more rigorous pre-market approval process that often requires clinical studies. The 510(k) process only requires manufacturers to show that their device is "substantially equivalent" to products already in the market place. State Department Announces New Policy on Internet Freedom.
In a speech last Tuesday at George Washington University
, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled a plan to support programs such as "circumvention services"
(enabling users to evade Internet firewalls) and training for human rights workers on how to secure their e-mail or remove information from their cell phones if they are detained by authorities. Congress last year gave the State Department $30 million to fund such efforts, but until the recent unrest in the Arab world brought the matter to public attention, the Department had not indicated what it was going to do with the money.
Comment on the above item.
.The Policy Alert blog is now located on AAAS'S MemberCentral.
Once you are logged in, click on "Blogs" and look for "Capitol Connection". NSF IG Office Announces Database on Closed-Out Investigations.
The NSF Office of Inspector General announced
last week that it has developed a new database of its closed-out investigations that will enable researchers and others to search its findings ("Case Closeout Memoranda") in cases ranging from misconduct to fraud.
ElsewhereAnti-evolution Bill Introduced in Tennessee. House Bill 368
has been introduced in the Tennessee House of Representatives. If enacted, the bill would "assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies" and allow teachers "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught." The bill identifies, but does not limit scientific controversy to, "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." In related news, the New Mexico House of Representatives Education Committee, by a 5-4 vote, postponed consideration of House Bill 302
, a simi lar ;anti-evolution bill (see Feb. 7 Policy Alert
Archived issues of AAAS Policy Alert
can be found athttp://www.aaas.org/spp/policyalert
Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Steve Nelson
Contributors: Joanne Carney, Phillip Chalker, Patrick Clemins, Ed Derrick, Mark Frankel, Stephanie Papia, Gretchen Seiler, Al Teich, Kasey White
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 email@example.com.