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.

Washington Updates - 2017

Senate Letter Urging  R&D Increase

Senators Gardner (R-CO) and Peters (D-MI) sent a letter in support of a 4% increase for NSF and NIST in the FY 2017 and FY 2018 spending bills.  Both Senators serve on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.  Last year they advocated for increased authorization levels in the bi-partisan American Innovation and Competitiveness Act.

Science Funding Letter

OSA joined over 287 scientific organizations, universities and research groups on a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committees urging robust investments in R&D.  Congress must complete FY 2017 before the continuing resolution runs out on April 28. At the same time, they must start on FY 2018 funding.

NSF Dear Colleague

The National Science Foundation recently released a "Dear Colleague Letter" that provides instructions for academic faculty and small businesses for submitting an NSF proposal for an integrated silicon photonics project utilizing AIM Photonics capabilities. The letter and additional information can be found on the NSF website.

President's Budget Blueprint for FY18 Released

Today, President Donald Trump released his budget blueprint proposal for funding in Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18).  The detailed budget is expected to be released in May but this blueprint does include proposed cuts for some programs of interest to OSA members.   Please note, it is ultimately up to Congress to write the funding legislation.   
The President’s proposed Budget, includes the following:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) would take a large cut of $5.8 billion, knocking its funding level down to $25.9 billion. The Budget also proposes a “major reorganization of NIH’s Institutes and Centers”
  • At the Department of Energy (DOE), the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would be eliminated.
  • The Budget says it will focus funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy “on limited, early-stage applied energy research and development activities” but does not provide specifics on funding levels.
  • DOE Office of Science would be decreased by $900 million
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership program at the Department of Commerce would be eliminated.
  • NASA would receive a 0.8 percent decrease.
  • The Budget does not provide any insights on National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation.

Posted: March 16, 2017

House Passes Department of Defense Appropriations for FY2017

On Wednesday, March 8, the House of Representatives passed a second version of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for FY2017.   The House passed the bill by a bipartisan vote of 371 to 48.  The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
Funding in the bill:
DOD 6.1 Basic Research

  • The new bill would fund DOD 6.1 Basic Research account at $2.28 billion, which is $44 million below FY16 funding levels but an increase of $153 million over the House proposed level and $12 million over the Senate proposed level.
DOD 6.2 Applied Research
  • The new bill would fund DOD 6.2 Applied Research account at $5.3 billion, which is $292 million above FY16 funding levels, $334 million above the House proposed level, and $182 million above the Senate proposed level.
DOD 6.3 Advanced Technology Development
  • The new bill would fund DOD 6.3 Advanced Technology Development account at $6.44 billion, an increase of $501 million above FY16 levels, $496 million above the House proposed level, and $454 million above the Senate proposed level.
  • The new bill would fund DARPA at $2.94 billion, an increase of $48 million over FY16 levels, $16 million above the House proposed levels, and $30 million above the Senate proposed levels.

Posted: March 9, 2017

2017 National Medal of Science Nominations

The National Science Foundation announced the call for nominations for the 2017 National Medal of Science.  The deadline to submit nominees is April 7, 2017.  For more information, visit the NSF webpage.

Posted: March 3, 2017

Bi-partisan Legislation Promoting Women in Science Signed into Law

On March 1, 2017 President Trump signed into law two pieces of legislation to encourage women to pursue careers in science.  The Inspiring Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers Women Act (INSPIRE) was introduced by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA).  The Act authorizes the NASA Administrator to encourage women and girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics and to pursue careers that will further advance America’s space science and exploration efforts.  The second bill, Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, was introduced by Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT).  The bill encourages the National Science Foundation to use its entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the lab and into the commercial world.   Both pieces of legislation passed the House and Senate with strong bi-partisan support.
Read Rep. Comstock’s statement
Read Rep. Esty’s statement
Read President Trump’s statement

Posted: March 3, 2017

Rick Perry confirmed as Secretary of Energy

The Senate confirmed Rick Perry, a former Texas governor, as the 14th Secretary of Energy on March 2.  During his confirmation hearing, Perry stated that “If confirmed, I will enter this role excited and passionate about advocating and advancing the core missions of DOE, drawing greater attention to the vital role played by the agency and the hard-working men and women who dedicate themselves in pursuit of these missions.”

Posted: March 3, 2017

American Innovation and Competitiveness Act Signed Into Law 

Congress has passed and President Obama signed into law the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084).  Optics and photonics language is included in section 603 of the bill.   This language inclusion is all thanks to members of the optics and photonics community who came to Washington, DC, to participate in the National Photonics Initiative’s (NPI) visits with members of Congress, advocating for this language to be added to the bill.  OSA is a cofounding sponsor of the NPI.  We greatly appreciate the efforts made by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).
Read the National Photonics Initiative news release
Read the OSA news release

Posted: January 9, 2017

Congress passes a second Continuing Resolution

Congress has passed a second Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded through April 28, 2017.  By that date, Congress will need to pass either an Omnibus Appropriations bill (multiple appropriations bill combined into one bill) or another Continuing Resolution. 

Posted: December 12, 2016 

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