Washington Updates


Washington Updates


The OSA Public Policy staff is pleased to provide you with Washington Updates, where you will find up-to-date information on legislation, events, and other activities happening in Washington, D.C. that affect the optics and photonics community. We welcome your feedback on any of these issues. You can contact the OSA government relations team directly if you would like more information on a particular article.

For the latest proposed budget numbers, please see the FY2015 Budget Tracker.


Vote on Manufacturing Bill Expected on Monday

The Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (RAMI) is expected to be considered on the House floor on Monday, September 15.  Read more about the RAMI legislation.

Posted: September 12, 2014


OSTP Internship Program

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is looking for interns for Spring, Fall, and Summer.  The Deadline for applying for the Spring internship is October 17, 2014.  For more information on eligibility and application requirements, see the OSTP flyer or visit the OSTP website.

Posted: September 9, 2014
 


19th “Science In Japan” Forum

The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) will be holding the 19th “Science in Japan” Forum entitled “Frontiers of Research on Low-Dimensional Systems” on October 3, 2014 at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.  OSA is a cosponsor of this year’s forum.  See the JSPS website for more information or click here to register
 


Request for Information on Critical Materials

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced a Request for Information relating to critical materials. 
 
To read more about the Request for Information, please see the White House announcement.  The deadline to submit responses to OSTP is September 30, 2014.
 


Senate Introduces COMPETES Reauthorization Bill

On July 31, the Senate introduced its version of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014 (S. 2757). 
 
Exciting news for the optics and photonics community: language was included in the bill (section 614 of the bill) as a “Sense of Congress” highlighting optics and photonics. 
 
The original America COMPETES Act, passed in 2007, was based on recommendations by the 2005 National Academies report Rising Above the Gathering Storm and contains authorization for NSF, NIST, and STEM education programs, to name a few.
 
In the recently introduced Senate bill, NSF would be authorized at $7.649 billion for FY2015 and NIST would be authorized at $912.7 million for FY15.
 


Senate Committee Votes on Conference Travel Bill

On July 30, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee considered and passed the Conference Accountability Act, S.1347. This legislation would put into law the existing travel restrictions for federal employees and contractors to travel to conferences as well as increasing the barriers for conference travel. The bill passed out of committee by voice vote.  At this time, it is unclear if or when this bill would be considered by the full Senate.
 
On July 29, OSA signed onto a letter, with 69 other scientific and engineering organizations, that was sent to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee expressing concerns on this issue.


House Passes DOE Tech Transfer Bill

On July 22, the House considered and passed the Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act (HR 5120) by voice vote. This legislation allows for more flexibility in partnership agreements and allows lab directors to authorize agreements which are less than $1 million. This legislation also allows the Department of Energy to partner with the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program.


House Passes NIST Reauthorization Bill

On July 22, the House considered and passed by voice vote the NIST Reauthorization Act (HR 5035), which would reauthorize NIST programs and would authorize NIST funding levels at $850 million for FY14 and $855.8 million for FY15.


House Considers Energy Critical Elements Bill

On July 22, the House considered, but failed to pass, the Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act (HR 1022). This legislation authorizes the already existing Critical Materials Energy Innovation Hub.  The bill would authorize the hub to maintain a Critical Materials Information Center, which would serve as a repository for information on energy critical elements.  The bill would establish a research and development program at DOE to find ways to maintain the supply of critical materials.
 
The bill was brought to the House floor under suspension of the rules, which is a way to quickly consider noncontroversial legislation but also requires two-thirds of the vote in order to pass the legislation, as opposed to the normal majority.  Because the bill needed two-thirds of the vote, the bill failed by a vote of 260 to 143.


NSF Deputy Director Resigning

NSF Deputy Director Cora Marrett will be leaving NSF on August 24.  She was confirmed for the position back in 2011. To read more, visit the NSF website.


NSF Announces Priority for Optics and Photonics

The National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a Dear Colleague Letter highlighting optics and photonics research and education as a key area of interest.  NSF is encouraging innovative optics and photonics proposals that are relevant to one or more Divisions in the Directorates for Engineering (ENG), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), or Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE).  To read the Dear Colleague Letter and learn more about topics of interest for FY 2015 please visit NSF.

Posted: July 17, 2014


House Passes Research and Development Efficiency Act

On July 14, the House passed, by voice vote, the Research and Development Efficiency Act (H.R. 5056).  This legislation would develop a working group for the purposes of improving efficiency and streamlining the administrative requirements for those receiving federal research grants. 
 
On June 12, the House Science Subcommittee on Oversight and Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a joint hearing titled "Reducing the Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research."  
 
The hearing was in response to a National Science Board report Reducing Investigators’ Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research.  The hearing discussed the results of the report including the concerns over the amount of time being spent by federally funded researchers on administrative requirements and discussed the report’s recommendations. 
 
In a Federal Demonstration Partnership study 2012 Faculty Workload Survey: Research Report, respondents estimated 42 percent of time spent by researchers on federally funded research was spent working on the administrative requirements.

Posted: July 16, 2014


House Passes STEM Education Bill

On July 14, the House passed, by voice vote, the STEM Education Act (H.R. 5031).
 
The STEM Education Act authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM grant programs for informal STEM education, for federal STEM programs it adds computer science to the definition, and it expands eligibility of the NSF’s Master Teacher Fellowship Program.

Posted: July 16, 2014


Congress Passes Job Training Legislation

The House and Senate came to a bipartisan deal on job training legislation.  The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act reauthorizes and amends the Workforce Investment Act, which has been up for reauthorization since 2003, as well as reauthorizing the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act.  The goals of the programs authorized in this legislation are to increase access to training and employment services.
 
On June 25, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 95 to 3.  On July 10, the House passed the bill by a vote of 415 to 6.
 
On June 25, the President released a Statement of Administration Policy in support of the legislation and has indicated he will sign the bill into law.
 


Key FY15 Funding Legislation Update July 11, 2014

The Defense Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of Defense (DOD), is scheduled for consideration on the subcommittee level in the Senate on July 15 and in the full Senate Appropriations Committee on July 17.  The House already passed its version of the Defense Appropriations bill, see the June 23rd update for more information on the House bill.
 
The Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, passed the House on July 10, 2014 by a vote of 253 to 170.  The House draft proposes funding the DOE Office of Science at $5.071 billion.
     
No status change since the June 23rd post for the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill and the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill.

Posted: July 11, 2014
 


Key FY15 Funding Legislation Update July 7, 2014

The Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, is scheduled for consideration on the House floor the week of July 7.  The House draft proposes funding the DOE Office of Science at $5.071 billion, same as FY14 levels.
 
The Defense Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of Defense (DOD), is scheduled for consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 17.
     
There is no status change since the last post for the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill and the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill.

Posted: July 7, 2014


Key FY15 Funding Legislation Update as of June 23, 2014

Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill – Includes funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and STEM education programs.

    House of Representatives:

  • Passed the House on May 30 by a vote of 321 to 87.  The House bill proposes funding NSF at $7.4 billion, $237 million above FY14 levels, and NIST at $856 million, $5.8 million above FY14 levels.

    Senate:

  • During the week of June 16 the full Senate had been scheduled to consider a “minibus” appropriations bill, which contained the CJS bill along with two other appropriations bills; however, the Senate canceled consideration of the bill.  Further consideration of the bill has not been announced.  Senate bill proposes funding NSF at $7.2 billion, $83 million above FY14 levels, and NIST at $900 million, $50 million above FY14 levels.

Defense Appropriations Bill – Includes funding for the Department of Defense (DOD)

    House of Representatives

  • Passed the House on June 20 by a bipartisan vote of 340 to 73.  House draft proposes funding DOD research and development at $63.4 billion, $368 million over FY14 levels.

    Senate

  • Schedule for consideration has not been announced.

Energy and Water Appropriations Bill – Includes funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science

    House of Representatives

  • Passed out of the full House Appropriations Committee on June 18 and could be considered on the House floor as early as the week of July 7th.  House draft proposes funding the DOE Office of Science at $5.071 billion.

    Senate

  • Passed out of the subcommittee on June 17 and had been scheduled for full committee consideration on June 19; however, the Senate Appropriations Committee canceled the full committee consideration.  Further consideration of the bill has not been announced. The Senate draft proposes funding DOE Office of Science at $5.086 billion.

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations – Includes funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

    House of Representatives

  • Schedule for consideration has not been announced.

    Senate

  • Passed out of the subcommittee on June 10.  No schedule has been announced for full committee consideration.  Draft Senate bill proposes $30.5 billion for NIH, an increase of $605 million over FY14.
Posted: June 23, 2014

Key FY15 Funding Legislation Update as of June 13, 2014

Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill – Includes funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and STEM education programs.

    House of Representatives:

  • Passed the House on May 30 by a vote of 321 to 87.  The House bill proposes funding NSF at $7.4 billion, $237 million above FY14 levels, and NIST at $856 million, $5.8 million above FY14 levels.

    Senate:

  • Scheduled to be on the Senate floor the week of June 16.  Senate bill proposes funding NSF at $7.2 billion, $83 million above FY14 levels, and NIST at $900 million, $50 million above FY14 levels.

 
Defense Appropriations Bill – Included funding for the Department of Defense (DOD)

    House of Representatives

  • Likely on the House floor the week of June 16.  Passed out of the Appropriations Committee on June 10.  House draft proposes funding DOD research and development at $63.4 billion, $368 million over FY14 levels.

    Senate

  • Schedule for consideration has not been announced.

Energy and Water Appropriations Bill – Includes funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science

    House of Representatives

  • Passed out of the subcommittee and is scheduled for consideration in the full Appropriations Committee on June 18.  House draft proposes funding the DOE Office of Science at $5.1 billion, same as FY14 levels.

    Senate

  • Scheduled to be considered on the subcommittee level on June 17 and in the full committee on June 19.

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations – Includes funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    House of Representatives

  • Schedule for consideration has not been announced.

    Senate

  • Passed out of the subcommittee.  No schedule has been announced for full committee consideration.  Draft Senate bill proposes $30.5 billion for NIH, an increase of $605 million over FY14.

If you would like to contact your members of Congress to let them know how important science funding is to you, please visit our Legislative Action Center.  

Posted: June 13, 2014


Key FY15 Funding Legislation Update as of June 6, 2014

Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill – Includes funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and STEM education programs.

    House of Representatives:

  • Passed the House on May 30 by a vote of 321 to 87.  The House bill proposes funding NSF at $7.4 billion, $237 million above FY14 levels, and NIST at $856 million, $5.8 million above FY14 levels.

    Senate:

  • Passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 5 and could be on the Senate floor as early as the week of June 16.  Senate bill proposes funding NSF at $7.2 billion, $83 million above FY14 levels, and NIST at $900 million, $50 million above FY14 levels.

Defense Appropriations Bill – Includes funding for the Department of Defense (DOD).

    House of Representatives

  • Scheduled for consideration in the House Appropriations Committee on June 10.  House floor consideration could happen before the end of June.  House draft proposes funding DOD research and development at $63.4 billion, $368 million over FY14 levels.

    Senate

  • Schedule for consideration has not yet been announced.

Energy and Water Appropriations Bill – Includes funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science.

    House of Representatives

  • Scheduled for consideration on the subcommittee level on June 10.

    Senate

  • Schedule for consideration has not yet been announced.

If you would like to contact your members of Congress to let them know how important science funding is to you, please visit our Legislative Action Center.  
 


Potential Opportunity for Photonics in Manufacturing Initiative

On June 2, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) announced a Request for Information (RFI) for two Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI) and has included photonics as one of six possible technologies for the IMI.  Based on the responses to the RFI, DOD will then narrow down these technologies.  In order for photonics to be chosen, a strong response from the photonics community is needed.
 
IMIs are regional hubs, operated through public-private partnerships, with the goal of improving manufacturing innovation.  The IMIs combined make up the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), an initiative launched by President Obama.
 
The National Photonics Initiative (NPI) will be hosting several events over the next week to educate members of the photonics community.  To learn more about the RFI and what you can do to make a photonics IMI happen, please attend one of these events:

  • The NPI will host a webinar this Friday, June 6 from 2-3pm EDT.  To register for this webinar, please visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/462170968. Space is limited.
  • The NPI will also be hosting an in person session at CLEO on June 10, 2014 from 5-6:30pm at the San Jose Convention Center room 233.

Please visit the NPI website for more information on the upcoming webinar and CLEO session. 
 
To read OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan’s statement, please see the news release.

Posted: June 2, 2014


Key Funding Legislation Update as of May 30, 2014

Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill – Includes funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and STEM education programs

    House of Representatives:

  • Passed the House on May 30, 2014 by a vote of 321 to 87
  • The bill proposes funding NSF at $7.4 billion, $237 million above FY14 levels, and NIST at $856 million, $5.8 million above FY14 levels.

    Senate:

  • Plans to begin consideration of its version of the bill on the subcommittee level on June 3 and the full committee level on June 5.

 Defense Appropriations Bill
    House of Representatives:

  • Appropriations Subcommittee considered the bill on May 30, 2014.
  • Draft proposes funding the Department of Defense research and development at $63.4 billion, $368 million over FY14 levels.

    Senate:

  • Consideration of its version of the bill has not yet been announced.


As of May 30, 2014, neither chamber has begun consideration of the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which contains funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science.

Posted: May 30, 2014


Science Funding Legislation Passes the House

On May 30, 2014, the House of Representatives passed the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill for FY15.  The bill passed the House with a vote of 321 to 87.
 
Funding levels in the bill:

  • National Science Foundation would be funded at $7.4 billion, $237 million above FY14 levels
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would be funded at $856 million, $5.8 million above FY14 levels

The Senate will begin consideration of its version of the CJS bill on the subcommittee level on June 3rd and the full Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the bill on June 5th.

Posted: May 30, 2014


Science Funding Support

The Coalition for National Science Funding, of which OSA is a member, released a statement in support of the House Appropriations Committee’s funding levels for the National Science Foundation in the Commerce Justice Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill for FY 2015.
 
In the committee version of the CJS Appropriations bill, NSF would be funded at $7.4 billion, $237 million above FY14 levels, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would be funded at $856 million, $5.8 million above FY14 levels.
 
The CJS Appropriations bill will be debated on the House floor starting May 28.
 
If you would like to contact your members of Congress to let them know how important science funding is to you, please visit our Legislative Action Center.  CJS is not the only bill containing science funding, such as the bills containing funding for Departments of Defense and Energy.  The Senate also has not yet taken up the CJS bill so you still have plenty of time to get your letters in.

Posted: May 28, 2014
 


Legislation Includes Optics and Photonics Language

On May 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2015, HR 4435.  The Committee Report, which accompanies the bill, contained language encouraging the Department of Defense “to consider the establishment of a National Center for Optics and Photonics within its manufacturing mandate.”
 
Recently, the National Photonics Initiative had been on Capitol Hill supporting the inclusion of this type of language.
 
NDAA passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 325 to 98.

Posted: May 28, 2014
 


House Moves Science Funding Legislation

The House Appropriations Committee unveiled its draft version of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 15.  The bill was passed today on the subcommittee level by a voice vote and could be considered in the full committee as early as next week.  The CJS Appropriations bill is the legislation that funds the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
 
In the draft CJS Appropriations bill, NIST would be funded at $856 million, $5.8 million above FY14 levels, and NSF would be funded at $7.4 billion, $237 million above FY14 levels.
 
CJS becomes the third out of twelve appropriations bill to see action on the House side this year.  This week will also see the first appropriations bill of the season to be considered on the House floor.  House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) has said he intends to have all 12 appropriations bills completed on the committee level by the end of June with the hope of having all of the bills considered on the House floor by the August recess. 

Posted: April 30, 2014
 


Senate Holds Hearing on Innovation

On April 29, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing titled “Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments.”  The hearing included in-person testimonies from Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy; Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. France Cordova, Director of the National Science Foundation; and Dr. Arati Prabhakar, Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
 
The committee asked outside organizations to submit written testimony for the record.  The Coalition for National Security Research, of which OSA is a member, submitted testimony for the record on the important role federal investments in defense R&D plays in innovation.  The Coalition for National Science Funding, of which OSA is also a member, submitted testimony for the record supporting funding of at least $7.5 billion for the National Science Foundation.  In addition, OSA signed, along with 49 others, onto a testimony for the record on the need to close the innovation deficit.

Posted: April 30, 2014
 


Optics & Photonics Committee Report Released

On April 17, the Fast-Track Action Committee on Optics and Photonics (FTAC-OP) released the report Building a Brighter Future with Optics and Photonics.  The report includes seven recommendations split into two categories: research opportunities and capability opportunities.
 
The FTAC-OP, a subcommittee of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council, was formed to build off of the findings of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) report Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation.  The FTAC-OP Committee includes representatives from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Energy, Defense, and Health and Human Services as well as the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

To read OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan’s statement on the report, please see the news release.

Posted: April 18, 2014
 


Air Force Will Not Be Moving the Office of Scientific Research

On April 10, 2014, in a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, about the proposed relocation of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).  Secretary James said in response “the evaluation is completed and it’s staying put.”   The Air Force had been considering moving the AFOSR from Arlington, Virginia to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. 
 


New Director of the National Science Foundation

On March 12, 2014, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Dr. France Cordova as the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF).  She was sworn in on March 31, 2014.  Dr. Cordova was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the director position after Subra Suresh stepped down from the position in March 2013.
 


President Obama Releases FY15 Budget

On March 4, 2014, President Barack Obama released his fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget request.  His budget includes $135.4 billion for federal research and development (R&D). Highlights from his budget request include:

  • $7.3 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • $680 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratories
  • $5.1 billion for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science
  • $11.5 billion for the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Science and Technology program
  • $2.9 billion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education initiatives

The President’s budget, echoing his State of the Union address, proposes four additional National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes for 2014 with the goal of creating 45 institutes over 10 years.
 
A bipartisan budget deal struck in December 2013 has already established a baseline spending level for FY15, allowing Congress to begin preparing the FY15 appropriations bills.  With Congress already beginning the appropriations process and the current fiscal year ending September 30th, now is the perfect time to let your members of Congress know the importance of Federal science research and education funding and how it impacts your work.  If you would like to send a letter to your representatives regarding science research and education funding, you can use OSA’s easy online Legislative Action Center to send a letter to Congress.   
 


Congress Passes Bipartisan Funding Package for FY14

Congress passed a bipartisan omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014 this week, which was based on the budget agreed to in the December 2013 bipartisan budget deal.   The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2014 wraps in all 12 of the funding bills for fiscal year 2014. 
 
Funding highlights from the bill include:

  • NSF will be funded at $7.2 billion, a decrease of $82 million below the FY2013 enacted level.
  • NIST will be funded at $850 million, which is $41 million above the FY2013 enacted level.
  • DOE science research will be funded at $5.1 billion, an increase of $195 million above the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.
  • DOD Research will be funded at $63.0 billion which is $6.9 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.

The bill passed through both chambers with bipartisan votes with the House passing it by 359 to 67, and the Senate passing it by a vote of 72 to 26.  President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill.

Posted: January 22, 2014
 


 

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