Prospects Brighten for a Short-term CR. On Friday, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) containing $4 billion in spending reductions that would fund the government through March 18. While the House Republican leadership would rather see the Senate pass its year-long CR ( H.R.1 ), the Senate Democratic leadership has said that one week is not enough time to fully vet the year-long CR and has pushed for a short-term CR. The Senate passed the short-term CR on Wednesday morning. The Senate Democrats accepted the bill mostly because the $4 billion in cuts is in earmarks ($2.7 billion) and in programs slated for elimination in the President's FY 2012 request ($1.24 billion). The Senate Appropriations Committee is crafting a year-long CR that would eliminate earmarks and accelerate a number of the reductions requested in the P resident 's FY 2012 budget and result in spending of between $10 billion and $25 billion below current levels for the remainder of FY 2011. Visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website to stay up-to-date on the latest action on the FY 2011 and FY 2012 budgets.
Other Congressional News
House Foreign Relations Committee to Encourage Public Participation. House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has announced two new initiatives for the public to provide input to the committee. " Your Seat on the Dias ," which is up and running, allows the public to submit questions to be asked during full committee hearings. A second feature titled "Whistleblower" (not yet operational) will allow the public the opportunity to report instances of misconduct or waste.
Democrats Ask for Climate Science Hearing. House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Ranking Member Bobby Rush (D-IL) sent Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) a letter asking for a hearing to be held on climate science. The letter comes in the wake of two scientific studies that link climate change to increased extreme weather events.
AAAS Issues Book on Navigating Congress. AAAS recently published the third edition of Working With Congress , a manual designed to bridge the gap between the mutually dependent "cultures" of science and government. The first two chapters of the book provide background on congressional organization and the legislative process, while Chapter 3 discusses in detail the communication strategies that one can utilize and presents a list of the top ten rules for working with Congress.
NCATS Structure Continues to Emerge . Further planned aspects of the organizational structure of the proposed NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Research (NCATS) emerged last week during a meeting of the NIH Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB). The new NCAT organization plan, which incorporates public comments received on an earlier draft model, would include the Clinical and Translational Science Award program, while the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program and SBIR/STTR development grants would move to the National Institute of General Medicine. The NIH Office of the Director would manage the Scientific Education Partnership Awards (SEPA), as well as a new Infrastructure Unit that would house the non-human primate research centers and training in animal medicine. The proposed NCAT model continues to draw controversy, despite overwhelming support from the SMRB.
Commerce IG Finds No Misconduct From Climate Scientists. The Department of Commerce Inspector General found no evidence that scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) inappropriately manipulated data or deviated from appropriate peer review processes during an investigation related to the 2009 leaking of e-mails from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. The report, requested by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), did suggest that NOAA might consider reassessing its responsiveness to Freedom of Information Act requests.
Input Sought on Vision for Wildlife Refuge System. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking input on the creation of a vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The draft vision, Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation , is available for comment until April 22, 2011.
Biomedical Scientists Say Animals Are Essential in Research. An online survey of about 1,000 biomedical scientists found that 90% regard the use of animals in research to be essential. The survey, which included both American and foreign researchers, was reported in last week's issue of Nature . About one-sixth of those who took part in the poll said they had "misgivings" about their work, but only a small number said they had changed their research because of those misgivings and, while some indicated that they had been affected by animal rights activists, only a few said that they had changed the direction of their work as a result.
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New Hampshire House Votes to Withdraw From Regional Climate Initiative. The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to end New Hampshire's participation in the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. House Bill 519 must still pass the House Finance Committee, another full House vote, and the Senate and faces a likely veto from Governor John Lynch.
UNESCO Announces Plan to Aid Iraq in Developing Science Policies . The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced a new initiative to assist Iraq in developing its science policies. Along with senior Iraqi officials from the ministries for scientific research and higher education, UNESCO will assist with drafting a new comprehensive national set of policies for science, technology, and innovation in Iraq. The initiative, which is being funded with a $212,000 grant from the Japanese government, also seeks to establish a network of national and international experts that will be linked to the Iraqi government and other organizations that can benefit from their expertise and work.
Australia Plans to Set Price for Carbon Emissions. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard proposed a plan to price carbon emissions starting in July 2012. The price would be fixed for three to five years, after which Australia would switch to a cap-and-trade system.
People. George Bugliarello , president of Polytechnic Institute of New York (now the Polytechnic Institute of New York University) from 1973 to 1994, and for a long time an extremely active figure in science policy and international science issues, died February 18, at the age of 83. Bugliarello, a civil engineer, was chair of the AAAS Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy during the 1980s and served in many leadership positions at the National Academy of Science. Among his many accomplishments, he founded and co-edited the journal, Technology in Society.
- Joan Ferrini-Mundy has been selected as the new assistant director for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). She has held the position on an acting basis for the last year.
- Cathy Zoi is stepping down as the acting Undersecretary of Energy to take a position in the private sector. She will be replaced by Arun Majumdar , who will also continue to serve as Director of Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
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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 email@example.com.