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Washington Update
Week of May 23 - 27
Senator Peters Speaks at Space Weather Briefing on Capitol Hill
Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) Gives Opening Remarks at Space Weather Briefing on the Hill
 

On Wednesday, May 25, Senator Peters kicked off a Space Weather briefing on Capitol Hill. The briefing, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Cray: The Supercomputer Company, screened "Solar Superstorms", a film which uses scientific visualizations to show the inner workings of the sun and help explain space weather.

In his remarks, Senator Peters discussed the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act (S.2817) and highlighted U-M's collaboration with his office in creating this very important piece of legislation. This bipartisan bill would strengthen space weather research by directing the various federal agencies responsible for understanding, predicting, and forecasting space weather to develop new tools and technologies to improve forecasting and develop benchmark standards to describe space weather disturbances and their potential impacts on Earth. This legislation has implications for NASA, NOAA, NSF, DoD, and DHS.


House Appropriations Committee Approves FY2017 Commerce-Justice-Science Bill


This week, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY17 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) funding bill and accompanying report, which was 0.5 percent above its FY16 enacted level. This bill funds the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), among other agencies. CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) stated: “It is a tough budget year, but this bill...makes scientific research and space exploration a top priority. Breakthroughs in these areas are vital to America’s future economic growth.”


The bill would fund NSF at $7.4 billion, a $57 million decrease below the FY16 enacted level. Within that total, funding for Research and Related Activities would receive an increase of $46 million to $6.08 billion, and Education and Human Resources would be level-funded at $880 million. Funding for the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account would reduce to $87.1 million, a decrease of $113 million below the FY16 enacted level of $200 million. Of note, the House report included positive language about NSF's peer review process. Also, during the Committee markup, there were no harmful amendments offered that would single out a specific directorate of research at NSF for reductions in funding.

This legislation would fund NASA at $19.5 billion, an increase of $223 million over the FY2016 level of $19.285 billion. Funding for the Science Mission Directorate would be $5.597 billion, an increase of $7.6 million or 0.14% above FY2016. This amount includes $260 million for the Europa mission. Aeronautics would receive $712 million, an increase of $72 million or ~11% above FY2016. Space Technology would receive $739.2 million, an increase of $52.7 million or ~8% above FY2016. This legislation would flat fund Space Grant at the FY2016 level, $40M.

This legislation would fund NIST at $865 million, a 10.3% decrease below the FY2016 enacted level of $964 million. Overall, NOAA would be funded at $5.58 billion, a decrease of 3.2% below the FY2016 enacted level of $5.77 billion. The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would receive $436 million a 9.5% decrease below the FY2016 level of $482 million.


House Fails to Approve FY2017 Energy-Water Appropriations Bill

On Thursday, the House failed to approve the FY2017 Energy-Water Appropriations bill by a vote of 112 to 305. The legislation failed after an amendment was included relating to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. After the failure to pass the legislation House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) issued a statement stating: “I’m very disappointed that this bill could not clear the House today, but I remain dedicated to working this bill and all other Appropriations bills through regular order."

The bill would provide $5.4B for the Department of Energy (DoE) Office of Science. This is an increase of $53M (1%) above the FY2016 enacted level of $5.35B. The President's Budget requested $5.67B (through a proposed combination of mandatory and discretionary spending) for the Office of Science. The bill would provide $305.8M for ARPA-E, an increase of $14.8M (5.1%) above the FY2016 enacted level of $291M. The President's Budget requested $500M for ARPA-E through a combination of mandatory and discretionary spending. A summary of the legislation is available here and text of the bill is available here


Energy Policy Bill Passes the House, White House Threatens Veto

On Thursday, May 26, the House passed a legislative package containing energy policy legislation, along mostly party lines. As you may recall, the Senate previously passed a more bipartisan energy policy package earlier this year, the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012).

The House legislation includes elements from the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015 (H.R.8) and 36 previously passed House bills, many of which have received veto threats from the Administration. Included in this package is the energy portion (titles V-VII) of the House-passed America COMPETES Reauthorization (H.R. 1806). The energy provisions of COMPETES begin at Division D of the House Amendment to S. 2012, pg. 693. This legislation is problematic to energy research funded by the Department of Energy (DOE). Of concern, the proposed funding levels for DOE research programs are significantly lower than what is proposed in the House FY2017 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. Additionally, policy provisions in H.R. 1806 would limit the types of energy research that DOE could support. The Association of American Universities issued a statement of concern with the legislation, which can be found here.

This sets the stage for a joint conference to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate passed measures, however It is unclear if the Senate will agree to a conference

Legislative Activities

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate will be in recess next week (May 31 - June 3). When the Senate reconvenes on Monday, June 6, they will proceed to consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (S.2943).

ARPA-E Program Director Positions Available

ARPA-E is hiring Program Directors. The ideal candidates would have visionary ideas on promising areas for new energy technologies. Program Directors are responsible for program creation, design, implementation, and management.

Job opportunity details:

  • Initial term of hire is three years.
  • ARPA-E will consider hiring individuals from universities and other nonprofit organizations via an IPA.
  • US Citizenship is required.

Required qualifications:

  • Doctorate degree in an energy-relevant field of science or engineering, earned by original work.
  • Strong vision for specific program areas that are ripe for ARPA-E investment – those likely to develop transformational energy technologies.
  • Minimum of six to eight years of relevant energy-related experience in academia, industry, and/or technology investment.
  • Strong background in both program management and technology transfer.
  • Deep technical and industry knowledge.
  • Familiarity in at least one specific area of energy technology, along with a broad, interdisciplinary perspective on energy-related issues.

Especially relevant backgrounds include:

  • Electrochemical energy storage and conversion
  • Photovoltaic energy conversion
  • Advanced engines/vehicle technologies
  • Chemical catalysis/reaction engineering for biofuels, industrial processes, and other energy applications
  • Biological approaches to energy conversion/biofuels
  • Low temperature waste heat recapture/thermodynamic and/or solid state cycles
  • Fossil energy conversion/carbon capture and conversion
  • Wind power/ocean and wave power/aerodynamics and fluid dynamics
  • Grid scale energy storage
  • Energy harvesting materials and devices
  • Building efficiency technologies/HVAC/building envelope/smart buildings
  • Advanced lighting technologies
  • Advanced materials for energy applications
Further information is available here.
Nomination Announcements

Federal Advisory Committees:
 
NSF Advisory Committee Openings
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting nominations for positions available on its scientific and technical federal advisory committees. There are 13 advisory committees accepting nominations including:
  • Advisory Committee for Biological Sciences
  • Advisory Committee for Computer and Information Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure
  • Advisory Committee for Education and Human Resources
  • Advisory Committee for Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Geosciences
  • Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
  • Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering
  • Advisory Committee for Business and Operations
  • Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee
The federal register notice, with details on how to submit names, is available here. Nominations for membership are maintained for one year.
 
CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are accepting nominations for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). ACIP consists of 15 experts in fields associated with immunization who provide advice and guidance to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Assistant Secretary for Health, and the CDC on the control of vaccine-preventable diseases.

The deadline for receipt of all application materials (for consideration for term beginning July 1, 2017) is June 30, 2016. Further information is available here.

National Institute of Standards and Technology Federal Advisory Committees

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is accepting nominations for appointment to eight existing Federal Advisory Committees:
  • Board of Overseers of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Judges Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board
  • National Construction Safety Team Advisory Committee
  • Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction
  • NIST Smart Grid Advisory Committee
  • Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology
Nominations will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Further information is available here.
 
Council on Graduate Medical Education

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is accpeting nominations to fill vacancies on the Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME). The COGME provides advice and recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services and members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on matters related to: supply of physicians in the U.S., physician workforce trends, training issues, and financing policies.

The agency will receive nominations on a continuous basis. Further information is available here.
News Articles
China's Science Revolution
Next step for Biden Cancer effort: national summit in June
Q&A: Will Senate COMPETES bill narrow partisan gap in Congress over U.S. research policy?
 
Zika funding too low in House, Senate bills, Obama says
181 Democrats join call to end House fetal-tissue probe
 
Political Battles Color Congressional Feud Over Zika Funding

 
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