AAAS Policy Alert -- October 26, 2011
IN THIS ISSUE
Senate Nears Passage of FY 2012 "Minibus," May Propose Another CR.
Last week the Senate voted 82-16 to limit debate on legislation (H.R. 2112) that would combine three appropriation bills for FY 2012: Agriculture (H.R. 2112); Commerce, Justice, Science (S. 1572); and Transportation (S. 1596). The "minibus" bill does not appear to change any of the figures for the science agencies reported earlier for the three separate bills. (Details of the latter can be found at the AAAS R&D Budget website
.) The chamber is on recess this week, but will resume consideration of the final "minibus" bill when it returns next week. The Senate is also expected to vote to attach an amendment to the minibus that would extend funding for the federal government beyond November 18 by means of another continuing resolution. The status of these and other appropriations bills can be seen on the chart on Thomas
, the web site of the U.S. Congress.
Visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website
to stay up-to-date on the latest congressional action on the FY 2012 budget.
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL NEWS
Senate HELP Committee Approves ESEA Reauthorization. Last week the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved, by a vote of 15-7, legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly referred to in recent years as the No Child Left Behind Act. The Committee retained the most significant change in the reauthorization bill by eliminating the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) language. Of the 144 amendments filed for consideration, the committee considered just 53, and adopted 23 amendments, none of which appear to have significant S&T implications. (See the Committee's news release for details.) The bill will now go to full Senate for a floor vote.
NIH Asks for Feedback on Managing Resources. In an October 17 blog post, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Sally Rockey asked for public feedback on the question, "How do you think we should manage science in fiscally challenging times?" She noted that NIH is considering various options, including re-examining the management of NIH resources, and encouraged readers to review those options and to provide their opinions. Rockey's post includes an e-mail address to which comments should be sent, as well as the texts of comments already received. In other NIH news, the agency's Scientific Management Review Board, which advises on NIH's organizational structure, will meet on October 26. The meeting's agenda and other details can be found here.
Comment on the above item. The Policy Alert blog is located on AAAS's MemberCentral . Once you are logged in, click on "Blogs" and look for "Capitol Connection" in the drop-down list.
Environmental Justice Plans Open for Public Comment . Several federal agencies have recently released environmental justice strategies, complying with an August 4, 2011 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop or revise existing environmental justice strategies to protect minority and low-income populations from experiencing disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects caused by an agency's programs, policies, and activities. The Department of Commerce draft Environmental Justice Strategy is open for public comment through October 31. The Department of Housing and Urban Development draft strategy is open for public comment until November 14. The Department of Labor is seeking comments on how to address environmental justice through programs, policies, regulations or reporting requirements. Its site for public comment will be open until November 18, after which the Department will develop a strategy.
NOAA Seeks Input on OAR Strategy. NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) has released for public comment a new OAR Strategic Plan that is aligned with NOAA's Next Generation Strategic Plan. The draft OAR Strategic Plan is available for review and public comment through the Federal Register until November 11.
EU Court Restricts Patents on Stem Cells. The European Union Court of Justice has ruled that research involving the destruction of human embryos may not be patented, as to do so violates an EU directive banning "inventions the commercial exploitation of which would be contrary to ordre public or morality." The ruling cannot be appealed. European scientists are still free to seek the patents in other countries.
EU Group of Research and Funding Organizations Reorganizes. Fifty research funding organizations from across 23 European countries have founded Science Europe, electing Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the UK Economic and Social Research Council, as its first president. (See the Science Europe announcements here and here (PDF file) for details.) The group replaces EuroHORCS (the European Heads of Research Councils), which voted to dissolve. This transition had been under discussion for two years. Dedicated to improving the role of science funders in European policy-making, champions of Science Europe had hoped to absorb some functions currently held by the European Science Foundation. However, unlike EuroHORCS, the ESF vote to disband did not have enough support to be accepted.
People in the News.
- On October 20 the Senate confirmed John Bryson as the new Secretary of Commerce, by a vote of 74-26. Bryson, former chairman, CEO, and president of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, succeeds Gary Locke, who is now the U. S. Ambassador to China.
- NIH Director Francis S. Collins has announced the selection of Chris A. Kaiser to be the new director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (see Eurekalert announcement here). Kaiser, a leader in cell biology, is professor and head of the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is expected to begin in his new position in the spring of 2012.
- In a news release last week, the National Academy of Sciences announced the appointment of Inder Verma, a member of the AAAS Board of Directors, as the new Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
- On October 19 the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee reported out and sent to the Senate floor for a vote the nominations of Anneila I. Sargent , of the California Institute of Technology, and Claude M. Steele , of Stanford University, as Members of the National Science Board at the National Science Foundation.
- On October 20, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Bonnie Bassler of Princeton University as a Member of the National Science Board.
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Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Steve Nelson
Contributors: Joanne Carney, Mark Frankel, Erin Heath, Gretchen Seiler, Al Teich, Ric Weibl, 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 email@example.com.