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

OSA Joins Multi-society Letter Expressing Concerns on the September Immigration Proclamation

On October 17, OSA joined with more than 70 other organizations to express concerns that September 24, 2017 White House proclamation on visas and immigration could harm science and engineering in the US.  View the letter.


NSF Announces 59 Grants to Study Hurricane Effects

On 10 October, the NSF announced 59 grants, totaling $5.3 million, were awarded to study the hurricane effects.  For more information about the grants and recipients, read the NSF press release.

Posted: October 13, 2017

NSF Issues an RFI on Mid-scale Research Infrastructure

On 6 October, the NSF issued a Request for Information (RFI) on Mid-scale Research Infrastructure.  The NSF Dear Colleague states “NSF seeks information on existing and future needs for mid-scale research infrastructure projects from the US-based NSF science and engineering community.”  Read the NSF Dear Colleague.

NSF Announces EPSCoR Awards

On 19 September, NSF announced $20 million in Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) awards. Awards went to five states: Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wyoming.  Read the NSF press release

NIST Announces 2017 Small Business Innovation Research Grant Awards

On 25 September, NIST announced $3.9 million in grants was awarded to 21 small businesses from 16 states from the Small Business Innovation Research program.  Read the NIST press release.

Rep. McSally Tours Edmund Optics

On 21 September, Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-AZ) toured the Tucson facility of Edmund Optics.  For more information, read the National Photonics Initiative news release.

Trump Administration Releases Memo on R&D Priorities

On August 17, the Trump Administration released a memo on FY2019 research and development budget priorities.  View the memo
 
Optics and Photonics News released an article about the memo.  View the article.

Posted: August 18, 2017

Rep. Ehlers, Science Advocate and Former Member of Congress, Passes Away

Former Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), the first research physicist to be elected to Congress, passed away in August 2017.  Rep. Ehlers was a strong and early supporter of STEM education and was heavily involved in getting the original America COMPETES Act passed in Congress.  He was a nuclear physicists and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2011.  OSA worked with Rep. Ehlers during his time in Congress, including getting a resolution passed during LaserFest that recognized the 50th anniversary of the laser.  Read the 2010 OSA news release about the resolution.

Posted: August 18, 2017

Senate Bill Report Contains Language Related to Export Control

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill on July 27.  Included in the accompanying report, the committee addresses Category XII of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which controls the export and import of defense-related articles and includes optics, photonic laser commodities and components.  The committee report directs the Bureau of Industry Standards (BIS) at the Department of Commerce to continue to work with the Department of State and other interested parties in finalizing the remaining categories of the US Munitions List.  Furthermore, the committee recognizes the rapid growth of technologies under Category XII and directs the Department to provide a summary of progress within 180 days of enactment of the appropriations bill.  The report calls for “well-written, precise regulations that account for international availability and commercial uses of controlled technologies are critical to U.S. competitiveness, especially small and mid-size companies in the US.”
 
Category XII was the last category considered under President Obama’s Export Control Reform due to the complexity of the areas it covers.  OSA has been actively engaged in this process through weighing in with the Administration and members of Congress.  Last year, Dr. Gregory Quarles, Chief Scientist for The Optical Society, testified before the House Small Business Committee and outlined three areas where the proposed rule would most affect the optics community and small businesses; impact on the time to market for regulated products and components, cost of compliance and the need to enhance government export assistance resources. Review the testimony.

Posted: July 27, 2017

Senate Releases Details of Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill

On July 25, the Senate Appropriations Committee released details of its version of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Act for FY2018.  This bill contains proposed funding for agencies and programs such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Senate Proposed Funding Levels:

  • NSF: Senate bill proposes funding NSF at $7.3 billion, which is the same as the House proposed bill, $658 million above the President’s Budget request, and $161 million below the FY2017 funding level.
  • NIST: Senate bill proposes funding NIST at $944 million, which is $219 million above the President’s Budget request, $79 million above the House proposed bill, and $8 million below the FY2017 funding level.
  • Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) within NIST: Senate bill proposes funding MEP at $130 million, which is $30 million above the House proposed funding level.The President’s Budget request proposes eliminating MEP.
  • NASA: Senate bill proposes funding NASA at $19.5 billion, $437 million above the President’s Budget request, $400 million below the House proposed bill, and $124 million below the FY2017 funding level.
  • NOAA: Senate bill proposes funding NOAA at $5.6 billion, $820 million above the President’s Budget request, $630 million above the House proposed bill, and $85.1 million below the FY2017 funding level.

Read the committee summary of the Senate bill.
 
The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the bill on July 27.  Senate floor consideration has not yet been announced.
 
There is still plenty of time to write your members of Congress regarding research and development funding.  If you would like to write to your members of Congress about research and development funding, OSA has a draft letter you can use and edit.  It’s easy and only takes a few minutes of your time. 

For proposed funding levels of other research and development programs and agencies, visit the OSA FY2018 Appropriations webpage.

Posted: July 25, 2017

Senate Proposes Funding Increases for DOE Office of Science and ARPA-E

On July 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its draft of the Energy and Water Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2018.  The Senate is proposing increases for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. It also proposed an increase for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which the President’s Budget and the House bill both proposed to eliminate.  In April 2017, OSA signed onto a letter to Congress asking them to support FY2018 funding for Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). 
 
Proposed Levels:

  • DOE Office of Science: Senate proposes funding Office of Science at $5.55 billion, which is $158 million above FY2017, $1.077 billion above the President’s Budget request, and $158 million above the House proposed levels.
  • ARPA-E: Senate proposes funding ARPA-E at $330 million, which is $24 million above FY17. The House proposed bill and the President’s Budget request both propose eliminating ARPA-E.
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): Senate proposes funding EERE at $1.937 billion, which is $153 million below FY17, $1.3 billion more than the President’s Budget request, and $833 million above the House proposed level.

The Senate has not announced when the full Senate will consider its version of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill.  

During the week of July 24, the full House is expected to consider their version of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill as part of a four bill package that also includes the House versions of Defense Appropriations bill, Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, and the Military Construction-VA Appropriations bill.
 
There is still plenty of time to write your members of Congress regarding research and development funding.  If you would like to write to your members of Congress about research and development funding, OSA has a draft letter you can use and edit.  It’s easy and only takes a few minutes of your time. 

For proposed funding levels of other research and development programs and agencies, visit the OSA FY2018 Appropriations webpage.

Posted: July 19, 2017

House Proposes Increases to NIH

The House Appropriations Committee released its draft of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Bill for FY2018.  The bill proposes funding National Institutes of Health (NIH) at $35.2 billion, which is $1.1 billion above FY17 levels and $8.28 billion above the President's Budget request.  The House has not announced when the bill will be considered by the full House.

The Senate has not yet introduced its version of the bill.  If you would like to write to your members of Congress about science research and development funding, OSA has a draft letter you can use and edit.  It's easy and only takes a few minutes of your time. 

House Subcommittee Releases Draft of Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill

The House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) released its draft version of the CJS Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18).  This bill contains proposed funding for agencies and programs such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Manufacturing Extension Partnership, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

The draft bill would fund NSF at $7.3 billion, which is $647 million more than the President's Budget request but almost $200 million decrease from FY17 Omnibus levels.  The draft bill would fund NIST at $865 million, an increase of $140 million over the President's Budget proposal but a decrease of $87 million from the FY17 Omnibus levels.  The President's budget had proposed elimination of MEP, however the House draft version would fund the program at $100 million. 

The Senate has not yet released its draft of the bill.  If you would like to write to your members of Congress about science research and development funding, OSA has a draft letter you can use and edit.  It's easy and only takes a few minutes of your time. 

Posted: June 29, 2017

House Subcommittee Releases Draft Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

The House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water released its draft version of the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2018 (FY18).  This bill contains proposed funding for agencies and programs such as Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).  The subcommittee draft proposes funding DOE Office of Science at the same level as FY17, instead of the 17% cut that was in the President's Budget proposal.  The subcommittee draft would eliminate ARPA-E as proposed by the President and would cut EERE nearly in half, which the President had proposed a 64% cut in his Budget request. 

The Senate has not yet released its draft of the bill.  If you would like to write to your members of Congress about science research and development funding, OSA has a draft letter you can use and edit.  It's easy and only takes a few minutes of your time. 

Posted: June 29, 2017

US Supreme Court ruling allows parts of travel ban to go into effect

On June 26, the United States Supreme Court ruled that parts of President Trump’s so-called “travel ban” can go into effect now, and the court will consider the legality of the rest of the ban when it reconvenes in the fall.
 
The ruling:

  • Allows those traveling from or who are citizens of these six countries Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen with ties in the US to obtain visas.  This includes those visiting or coming to live with family members in the US, those attending a US university, a worker who accepted employment from a US company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.
  • Denies those applying for visas who have no “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

President Trump had issued a memorandum to his Cabinet secretaries that should the injunctions be lifted, the ban will take effect 72 hrs from the ruling.

Posted: June 27, 2017

OSA Signs Letter Encouraging Nomination of Director of OSTP

On May 25, OSA joined 58 organizations on a letter to the President encouraging him to "nominate highly-qualified individuals to serve as Director and in other key roles in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)."  View the letter.

Posted: May 25, 2017

OSA Signs Letter Opposing Proposed Cuts to Science

On May 24, OSA joined 149 organizations in a letter to Congress asking them to oppose the proposed cuts to science and urged them to "provide sustainable and robust investments in scientific research."  View the letter.

Posted: May 24, 2017

President's Full Budget Released

On May 23, the President released his FY2018 full budget proposal.  Cuts are proposed to the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Institutes of Health and Department of Energy.  More information is included on OSA's FY18 U.S. federal fundng webpage.

Posted: May 23, 2017

OSA signs onto letter about proposed visa changes

On May 4, a proposal for changes to U.S. visa requirements were published for comment in the Federal Register with a comment deadline of May 18.  OSA joined with several other scientific societies to submit comments.  View the letter

Posted: May 18, 2017

Senators Send Letter Supporting Research at DOE

Six Republican Senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump expressing support for maintaining funding for the Department of Energy’s research programs.  The six Senators on the letter are Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD).  View the letter

Posted: May 18, 2017

Members of Congress Sign Letters Supporting NSF Funding

On May 15, a group of Senators submitted a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee supporting $8 billion for the National Science Foundation.  
 
As mentioned in a previous post, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) sent a letter in April to the Senate Appropriations Committee supporting a 4% increase in funding for NSF and NIST for FY2018. 

Also mentioned in a previous post, Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) led a bipartisan dear colleague letter in April with 162 other members of Congress supporting $8 billion in FY18 for the National Science Foundation.

Posted: May 17, 2017

FY17 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Released

On May 1, Congress released the Omnibus Appropriations Act to fund the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17).  Below are the current proposed numbers for FY17.  Congress will vote on the Omnibus package this week.

Updated on May 5: Congress passed the Omnibus Appropriations Act. 

Funding levels in the Omnibus:

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) would be funded at $7.5 billion, an increase of $8.7 million over FY16
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would be funded at $952 million, a decrease of $12 million below FY16
  • Department of Energy Office of Science would be funded at $5.392 billion, an increase of $42 million above FY16
  • Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would be funded at $306 million, a $15 million increase over FY17
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) would be funded at $2.09 billion, a $17 million increase over FY16
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would be funded at $19.7 billion, an increase of $368 million over FY16
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be funded at $5.68 billion, a decrease of $90 million below FY16
  • Department of Defense Science and Technology would be funded at $14.011 billion, an increase $76 million over FY16
  • Department of Defense 6.1 Basic Research would be funded at $2.276 billion, a decrease of $33 million below FY16
  • Department of Defense 6.2 Applied Research would be funded at $5.296 billion, an increase of $292 million over FY16
  • Department of Defense 6.3 Advanced Technology Development would be funded at $6.439, an increase of $502 million over FY16
  • DARPA would be funded at $2.939 billion, an increase of $49 million over FY16
  • National Institutes of Health would be funded at $34.1 billion, an increase of $2 billion over FY16

Posted: May 1, 2017

OSA Signs Letter Supporting ARPA-E

OSA signed onto a letter to Congress asking them to support FY2018 funding for Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy (ARPA-E).  President Donald Trump’s FY2018 Budget Blueprint proposes eliminating ARPA-E.  Congress ultimate decides funding levels and it is important for them to hear about the important work ARPA-E does.  If you receive funding from ARPA-E, we recommend writing to your members of Congress to let them know about the work happening in their district that is funded by this program.

Posted: May 1, 2017

162 House Members Sign Bipartisan Letter Supporting NSF

On April 4, Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) led a dear colleague letter with 162 other members of Congress supporting $8 billion in FY18 for the National Science Foundation.

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.
DARPA
  • 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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