2007 Archives

Washington Updates


Washington Updates

2007 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 and invite you to use the comment section included with each post. You can also contact the OSA government relations team directly if you'd like more information on a particular.

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FY 2008 Omnibus Funding Bill Signed Into Law

On Dec. 19, the House of Representatives approved a consolidated appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008. The legislation includes the remaining 11 of 12 annual spending bills (the bill for the Department of Defense had already been signed into law). Funding for the remaining agencies has been provided under a short-term continuing resolution which was set to expire Dec. 21.

Congress and the Administration have been fighting over spending levels for FY 2008. The Democrat controlled House and Senate were eager to provide funding for their top domestic programs. However, the President had vowed to veto any funding bills that were higher than his original budget request. Eager to complete the spending bills before the end of the year, an agreement was finally reached in which Congress stayed largely within the President's budget parameters. As a result of these constraints, many R&D programs received only slight increases (see OSA's Appropriations Bills Tracker), much to the dismay of the research and business community. House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon also expressed his dismay at the level of funding and urged Congressional leaders to provide the "highest possible funding for NSF, NIST and DOE Office of Science." To view the full letter, click here.

The President signed the legislation Dec. 26. When Congress returns in late January 2008, they will begin the process of determining funding for FY 2009.

Posted: Dec. 27, 2007

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Federal FY 2008 Funding Update

In the remaining days of the year, Congress is frantically trying to finalize the FY 2008 funding levels for almost all of the federal agencies. Although the fiscal year began on October 1, 2007, only the Department of Defense has received funding. Congress has proposed funding for the various agencies, which includes large increases in domestic spending, including scientific R&D programs. The President has vowed to veto any legislation that exceeds his original budget request. As a result, the government is now running under a short-term continuing resolution, which is set to expire on December 21. It is the intent of leaders in Congress to pass the funding bills before this date.

Write your legislators, encouraging them to pass strong funding numbers for scientific R&D, in OSA's Legislative Action Center.

Posted: December 14, 2007

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Energy Legislation Passes Senate with Modifications

As reported last week, the House of Representatives passed the Energy Independence and Security Act. The Act would require cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. to achieve a minimum fleet wide average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The Act also provides $21.5 billion in tax incentives, mostly to promote development of alternative fuels that would be offset in part by eliminating or reducing $13 billion in subsidies for major oil and gas companies. The Act requires that 15 percent of electricity be produced from renewable sources by 2020. The legislation was sent over to the Senate this week for consideration. Both the tax incentives and renewable sources provision faced opposition by Senate Republicans and the White House. Ultimately both provisions were dropped to ensure quick passage of the legislation. The revised bill will now be sent back to the House for their approval, where it is expected to pass quickly. Then it will go to President Bush and he is expected to sign it into law.

Posted: December 14, 2007

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OSA Promotes Energy Efficiency of LEDs, Importance of R&D Funding on Capitol Hill

This week, in conjunction with the lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree, OSA touted the benefits of LED lighting and the importance of federal investments in scientific research and development (R&D) with a customized ad featured in the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call. The Capitol Christmas Tree, along with other national holiday displays like the National Christmas Tree and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree in New York, is lit with highly efficient light emitting diodes, an optics-enabled technology.

Additionally, OSA worked with the staffs of Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) in sending out a "Dear Colleague" letter to all members of the House of Representatives, applauding the benefits of LEDs and reminding them of the importance of fully funding R&D to ensure future advancements in energy-saving technologies.

Posted: December 7, 2007

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House Passes Comprehensive Energy Bill

Today the House of Representatives achieved their yearlong goal of passing comprehensive energy legislation. By a vote of 235 to 181, the Energy Independence and Security Act cleared the House. The Act would require cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. to achieve a minimum fleet wide average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The Act also provides $21.5 billion in tax incentives, mostly to promote development of alternative fuels that would be offset in part by eliminating or reducing $13 billion in subsidies for major oil and gas companies. The Act requires that 15 percent of electricity be produced from renewable sources by 2020. The tax and renewable provisions drew the veto threat from the White House and opposition in the Senate.

The Senate is now slated to take up the legislation, although efforts to eliminate the tax and renewable energy sections are underway. Senate Majority Leader Reid appears committed to producing a compromise bill by the end of the year.

For more information on both parties' views of this bill, visit the Majority Leader and Minority Leader's websites.

Posted: December 6, 2007

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Department of Defense Funding Bill Signed into Law

On Nov. 13, President Bush signed into law the Department of Defense (DOD) spending bill for Fiscal Year 2008. The DOD bill is the only funding bill out of 12 that has been signed into law. Although the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, the federal government has been operating under a continuing resolution, or CR, at FY 2007 funding levels. The latest CR is slated to run through Dec. 14.

DOD Basic Research, account 6.1, received an increase of 4.5%, or $70.1 million from $1.56 billion to $1.63 billion. The 6.2 Applied Research Account declines 4.4%, or $233.4 million from $5.3 billion to $5.1 billion. For information on these figures and funding for other key S&T agencies, please visit OSA's Appropriations Bills Tracker.

The final bill also sets limits on indirect cost rates, applying a 35 percent limitation only to Department of Defense basic research. This limitation applies only to contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements made available under the FY 2008 funds. This provision was vigorously opposed by the research university community. As more information on the interpretation of this by the DOD becomes available, OSA will post updates on the Washington Updates.

Posted: November 16, 2007

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Congressional Support for Increased DOD S&T Spending

Last week, key members of Congress wrote to Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, urging an increase in science and technology (S&T) spending at the DOD for Fiscal Year 2009. Signers of the letter include Rep. Bart Gordon, House Science and Technology Committee chair; Rep. Judy Biggert, Congressional R&D Caucus co-chair and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

The letter references a memo by John Young, director of Defense and Research at the DOD, which stresses the importance of S&T research and the ground advancements that it leads to. Furthermore, Mr. Young expresses concern that DOD S&T funding has not kept pace with increases in the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Programs budget at DOD.

Although the FY 2008 budget is still being finalized by Congress (see OSA's Appropriations Bills Tracker), the federal government is in the process of putting together the 2009 fiscal budget. The budget will be submitted to Congress in early February 2008.

Posted: November 9, 2007

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OSA Fellow Steven Chu Chairs Study Panel on Global Energy Development

The InterAcademy Council (IAC) released a new report in Beijing Oct. 22, commissioned by the governments of Brazil and China, identifying and detailing the scientific consensus framework for directing global energy development. Lighting the way: Toward a sustainable energy future lays out the science, technology and policy roadmap for developing energy resources to drive economic growth in both developed and developing countries while also securing climate protection and global development goals.

Lighting the way was produced by a study panel of 15 world-renowned energy experts, co-chaired by Nobel Laureate and OSA Fellow Steven Chu, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and José Goldemberg, former Secretary of State for the Environment for the State of São Paulo, Brazil.

The report's findings and recommendations have been presented to the Chinese and Brazilian governments by Co-Chairs Chu and Goldemberg.

The IAC, which represents the world's academies of science, engineering and medicine, launched the study in 2005. Lighting the way establishes the best practices for a global transition to a clean, affordable and sustainable energy supply in both developing and developed countries. The report addresses incentives that can accelerate the development of innovative solutions, provides recommendations for financial investments in research and development, and explores other transition pathways that can transform the landscape of energy supply and demand around the globe.

For more information or to download the report, go to: www.interacademycouncil.net.

Posted: October 26, 2007

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House Passes Energy Storage Bills

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed two pieces of energy legislation brought by the House Committee on Science and Technology.

H.R. 3776, the Energy Storage Technology Advancement Act of 2007 and H.R. 3775, the Industrial Energy Efficiency Research and Development Act of 2007

"To truly transform the way we manage our energy use we must do more than make incremental improvements to current technologies," said Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.). "Our economic and environmental security lies in our ability to deploy the next generation energy technologies. Advances in energy storage are vital to diversifying our energy supplies and transforming our transportation sector."

Posted: October 22, 2007

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House Subcommittee Passes Energy R&D Bills

Two energy-related bills are making their way through the House. The House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment yesterday passed both H.R. 3776, the Energy Storage Technology Advancement Act of 2007, and H.R. 3775 the Industrial Energy Efficiency Research and Development Act of 2007.

H.R. 3776 aims to enhance the federal government's role in research and development of competitive energy storage systems for stationary and vehicular applications by authorizing $780 million between FY 2009 and 2014 for Department of Energy (DOE) research on these systems.

H.R. 3775 would authorize $750 million from FY 2009 through 2013 for DOE's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) and its research to improve the quality and quantity, and alternative resources of industrial feedstocks, and its development of alternative energy sources to supply heat and power for energy-intensive industries. The ITP also serves as a training ground for the next generation of industrial energy engineers and auditors, supporting roughly 250 students a year in this field.

The bills now move on for consideration by the full Science and Technology Committee.

Posted: October 11, 2007

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Energy Efficient Lighting Bill Introduced in Senate

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, OSA's 2007 Advocate of Optics, has introduced legislation to phase out older-style light bulbs and replace them with newer, more energy efficient lighting. According to the lawmaker, when fully implemented, the switch to more efficient light bulbs will save Americans up to $6 billion a year in electricity costs.

Under Bingaman's bill, called the Energy Efficient Lighting for a Better Tomorrow Act (S. 2017), beginning in 2012 and continuing through 2014, the current 40-, 60-, 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs will be phased out and replaced by newer technologies such as LEDs, halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps and higher efficiency incandescent bulbs.

When fully implemented, the new efficiency standards for incandescent lighting will save 88 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

The Senate Energy Committee held a hearing on Sept. 12 to receive testimony on the status of energy efficient lighting technologies and on S.2017, the Energy Efficient Lighting for a Brighter Tomorrow Act.

In July, the House of Representatives passed an energy bill which includes similar language on lighting, authored by Reps. Harman (CA) and Upton (MI).

Click here to view testimonies and video of the Senate Energy Committee hearing.

Click here to learn more about the bill.

Posted: September 17, 2007

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OSA Hosts Caucus Briefing on Lasers in National Security

On Sept. 6, OSA hosted a Congressional R&D Caucus briefing on Capitol Hill highlighting the ways laser technology is contributing to U.S. national defense. A panel comprised of researchers working in the field of optics discussed laser-based research being done by the federal government, universities and industry that will transform and improve military operations in the future.

More than 80 staffers and government relations professionals attended the luncheon event to hear about the latest capabilities in laser detection and ranging, laser reconnaissance, laser communication, laser weapon systems and more.

Click here for photos and presentations from the event.

Posted: September 7, 2007

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President Bush Signs U.S. Innovation Legislation

President Bush, surrounded by key members of Congress, today signed into law H.R. 2272, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science (COMPETES) Act.

The legislation promises significant new investments in federal research and key post-secondary and graduate education programs that will lead to greater advancements and innovation in all sectors of society. H.R. 2272 passed the House and Senate during the week of July 30 with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans.

To view a summary of the legislation, go to:
http://www.science.house.gov/legislation/
leg_highlights_detail.aspx?NewsID=1938
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To view the letter from OSA to Congressional Leaders thanking them for passage of this bill, please click here.

Posted: August 9, 2007

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Congress Reaches Agreement on Innovation Legislation

The House and Senate have reached agreement on key authorizing innovation legislation, the America COMPETES Act. The legislation promises significant new investments in federal research and key post-secondary and graduate education programs that will lead to greater advancements and innovation in all sectors of society. This bill is the culmination of many years of work by Congress, the Administration, and outside groups such as OSA. The 2005 National Academies report,Rising Above theGathering Storm,spurred action in Congress. The report warned that without increased spending on research and STEM education, the U.S. risks losing technology jobs to other nations. The bill passed both the House and Senate on August 2. It now goes to the President for his signature, which he is expected to sign. For a summary of the bill, please click here.


Posted: August 3, 2007

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Amendment to Eliminate Advanced Technology Program Withdrawn

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering the Fiscal Year 2008 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations bill. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) was scheduled to offer an amendment to eliminate the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) yesterday. After pressure from the science and technology community, including OSA, and opposition from key Science and Technology Committee members Reps. Bart Gordon (D-TN), David Wu (D-OR) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Hensarling did not offer the amendment yesterday.

For more information on the ATP, please visit www.atp.nist.gov.

Posted: July 26, 2007

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Key Vote on Advanced Technology Program Today

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering the Fiscal Year 2008 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations bill. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) has offered an amendment to eliminate the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST). This amendment will be voted on TODAY. If the ATP is of interest to you or your company, please contact your own House Member and urge them to vote against the "Hensarling ATP amendment to the CJS bill."

For more information on the ATP, please visit www.atp.nist.gov.

How to contact your House Member:

Email: http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Phone: 202.224.3121 (U.S. Capitol Switchboard)

Posted: July 25, 2007

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House Endorses Increase for Key STEM Education Program

On July 18, the House of Representatives approved the FY 2008 funding bill for the Department of Education. The bill contains $198 million for the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program. The program is the only dedicated source of funding for teacher professional development in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects at the Department of Education.

During debate on the House floor, Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) introduced an amendment to increase funding for the MSP program by $16 million. The MSP program was one of the only education programs not slated for an increase. "Professional development for teachers is critical to the success of our students as they graduate into a highly-competitive global economy," Ehlers said. "I am thrilled that my colleagues in the House saw the importance of this issue, especially since there are so few funds available for training for teachers."

The full Senate must now consider their version of the funding bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee is recommending $184 million for the MSP program.

For more information on funding for this program and other key science programs, please visit OSA's Appropriations Bills Tracker.

Posted July 20, 2007

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House, Senate Comprehensive Innovation Bills Set for Conference

The Senate yesterday passed a comprehensive U.S. competitiveness bill that incorporates both the House-passed 21st Century Competitiveness Act of 2007 (H.R. 2267, passed May 21) and the Senate-passed America COMPETES Act (S. 761, passed April 25). The Senate has called for a conference with the House, meaning a committee will meet to discuss a compromise version of the bill that both chambers will accept.

While the two bills contain different funding levels and programs, they both aim to improve U.S. competitiveness in math and science research and education.

A date for the conference committee meeting has not yet been set.

Posted: July 20, 2007

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House Passes College Cost Reduction Act, Includes STEM & Innovation Provisions

The House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 2669, the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, which provides the single largest increase in college aid since the GI Bill in 1944 at no cost to taxpayers.

This legislation implements a key initiative of the Innovation Agenda - ensuring that the U.S. has qualified teachers in its classrooms. To reach that goal, the bill provides upfront tuition for highly qualified teachers who agree to teach in a high needs school.

This legislation also makes a $500 million investment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math initiatives (STEM) at Minority Serving Institutions.

Posted: July 16, 2007

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Fiscal Year 2008 Funding Bills ---Find out the latest information on their status

Congress is in the midst of considering the Fiscal Year 2008 funding bills for the federal government. All bills must be completed by September 30 or a continuing resolution must be passed temporarily extending funding. The Democrats have vowed to meet the September 30 deadline, which will keep Congress very busy this summer.

To date, most R&D programs have received increases in the House proposed bills. However, this is a long process and the increases could be reversed.

Please note that bills originate in the Appropriations Committees on both the House and Senate. The bills are typically considered by the subcommittee of relevant jurisdiction (for instance, DOE Office of Science is part of the Energy and Water bill) and then sent to the full committee. The full House and Senate each consider the full committee versions of the bill. Ultimately, the House and Senate bring their bills together in a conference. One bill is produced and voted on by each side then sent to the President for his signature.

Posted: June 22, 2007

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House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Solar Energy

The House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Energy and Environment yesterday held a hearing to examine ways to advance solar energy research and technologies in the U.S. The hearing was held to explore policies that will be included in pending legislation to be introduced by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), called "The Solar Energy Research and Advancement Act of 2007." The legislation will address issues in solar research, education and training not covered by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, including a research and development program on thermal energy storage technologies for concentrating solar power.

Posted: June 20, 2007

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Subcommittee Holds Hearing on STEM Education

The House Science and Technology Committee's Research and Science Education Subcommittee yesterday held a hearing investigating how federal agencies can better coordinate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs. The subcommittee examined whether agencies are doing enough to coordinate among themselves with states and school districts in developing STEM education programs, how agencies can better collaborate with educators on developing these programs, and how these programs are evaluated -- all with an eye toward providing usable, effective tools for schools, educators and students.

Yesterday's hearing follows up on a previous Subcommittee hearing to examine effectiveness of the efforts of federal agencies to implement programs and activities to improve STEM education and included testimony from employees at NSF, NASA, NIH and DOE's Office of Science.

Posted: June 7, 2007

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House Appropriations Committee Approves Increases for DOE Office of Science

The full House Appropriation Committee today approved the Fiscal Year 2008 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the DOE Office of Science. The bill proposes $4.514 billion for the Office of Science, an increase of $716.7 million over FY 2007 funding levels. More details on the legislation will be posted once they are available. The full House is anticipating considering the legislation the week of June 13.

Posted: June 6, 2007

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House Approves Science Scholarship Database Legislation

The House has passed H.R. 5139, the STEM Scholarship Database Act sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.). The legislation requires the Secretary of Education to establish a Web database of information on public and private programs of financial assistance for the study of postsecondary and graduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs.

 

Posted: June 6, 2007

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House Committee Approves New Energy Research Agency

The House Committee on Science and Technology yesterday approved a bill that would create a new agency within the Department of Energy responsible for the research and development of new energy technologies designed to decrease U.S. independence on foreign oil. The bill authorizes $4.9 billion for five years beginning in 2008 to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which is modeled after the Department of Defense's DARPA. It is based on the recommendations made in the National Academies 2005 report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm. The bill will now move to the full House for consideration.

For more information on ARPA-E, click here.

Posted: May 24, 2007

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House Passes Comprehensive Innovation Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed an omnibus bill designed to bolster U.S. competitiveness in innovation, research, and technology. The 21st Century Competitiveness Act of 2007 (H.R. 2272) combines the text of five previously House passed bills into one, a move that will make it easier for the bill to pass later in conference with the Senate, which passed its own omnibus competitiveness bill last month (the America COMPETES Act).

H.R. 2272 authorizes the National Science Foundation at $21 billion over 10 years (putting it on track to double its budget by 2010) and NIST at $2.5 billion through 2010. It also incorporates grant programs for math and science teachers and early-career researchers as outlined in both the "10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds" Science and Math Scholarship Act and the Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Research Act.

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2007

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OSA Members Visit Lawmakers on Capitol Hill

OSA members visited Capitol Hill on May 10, calling on their elected officials to support a range of science policy initiatives, including increased federal investments in scientific research and development (R&D) for fiscal year (FY) 2008 and innovation legislation in the House and Senate. Nearly 30 participants met one-on-one with U.S. senators and representatives and their staffs as part of the 2007 Capitol Hill Day event co-sponsored by OSA, OIDA, APS and IEEE-LEOS.

Participants from 14 states discussed the importance of doubling federal investments in basic research for FY08 at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy's Office of Science and in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) core programs. They also encouraged lawmakers to continue to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, thanking them for recent bills that emphasize its importance.

To view key messages points from the event, visit Capitol Hill Day.

Posted: May 17, 2007

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House Passes Science & Technology Committee's NSF and NIST Legislation

On May 2, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1867, The National Science Foundation (NSF) Authorization Act of 2007, by a vote of 339 to 17. The legislation increases the authorizing levels for NSF by 7 percent each year over the next 10 years, putting NSF on track to double its budget. H.R. 1867 also establishes a pilot program of one-year seed grants for new researchers to help improve funding rates for young investigators and stimulate higher-risk research, encourage NSF to foster relationships between academia and enhance NSF's STEM education programs.

For more information, please visit:
http://science.house.gov/legislation/leg_highlights_detail.asp
x?NewsID=1773

On May 3, the House passed H.R. 1868, The Technology Innovation and Manufacturing Stimulation Act of 2007, which authorizes the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST).The legislation increases the authorizing levels for laboratory research and the Manufacturing and Extension Program by 8 percent each year over the next 10 years. H.R. 1868 also establishes a new program to take the place of the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) called the Technology Innovation Program (TIP). The new program maintains the focus of ATP, which is to help fill the gap between high-risk innovative research that promises broad benefits and marketable products. TIP would support small- and medium-sized high-tech entrepreneurial firms; universities can now fully participate in joint venture projects as well.

Posted: May 4, 2007

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Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Alexander Honored by Science & Engineering Group

The Science, Engineering and Technology Work Group (SETWG) is presenting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) with the 2007 George E. Brown Jr. Science, Engineering and Technology Leadership Award for their leadership in ensuring that theU.S. meets the global competitiveness challenges of the 21st century.

Pelosi was chosen for her leadership on the House Democratic Innovation Agenda, which proposes concrete measures for an educated and skilled U.S. work force and revitalized research at U.S. universities and national laboratories. Alexander was chosen for requesting and publicizing, with Sen. Bingaman, the Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, which has been an immense influence in bringing attention to the issues of competitiveness and innovation in the United States and the leadership role the U.S. government needs to play.

The award is presented annually by SETWG in conjunction with the group's Congressional Visits Day May 1 and 2. OSA is a member society of SETWG. More information is available at www.setcvd.org.

Posted: April 30, 2007

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Victory for Innovation Legislation in the House and Senate

On April 25, the full Senate overwhelmingly passed the bi-partisan, America COMPETES Act. The Act, introduced by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-MS), received the support of 88 senators.

NSF is put on track to double its budget by 2011. Additionally, the measure would boost the Energy Department's Office of Science budget and increase authorizations at NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other science-related agencies. The legislation also seeks to improve K-12 STEM education programs by establishing new summer training programs for teachers at the National Laboratories and NSF, assisting states in developing specialty schools in math and science, and creating partnerships between the National Laboratories and high-need high schools to establish math and science centers. To view the legislation, click here.

This week, the House of Representatives also passed the first two bills in the Democrat's Innovation Agenda. H.R. 362, the "10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds Math and Science Scholarship Act," would strengthen and expand the STEM teacher workforce and attract the best and brightest students into STEM careers. H.R. 363, the "Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Research Act," would support outstanding researchers at the beginning of their careers through grants at NSF and the DOE.

All of the bills are based on recommendations made by National Academies' report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm."

Posted: April 26, 2007

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House Science & Technology Subcommittees Consider NSF and NIST Reauthorization Bills

The House Innovation and Technology Subcommittee considered changes to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) through H.R. 1868, The Technology Innovation and Manufacturing Stimulation Act of 2007. The legislation increases the authorizing levels for laboratory research and the Manufacturing and Extension Program by 8 percent each year over the next 10 years. H.R. 1868 also establishes a new program to take the place of the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) called the Technology Innovation Program (TIP). The new program maintains the focus of ATP, which is to help fill the gap between high-risk innovative research that promises broad benefits and marketable products. TIP would support small and medium-sized high-tech entrepreneurial firms; universities can now fully participate in joint venture projects as well.

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The Research and Science Education Subcommittee also considered changes to the National Science Foundation (NSF). H.R. 1867, the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2007, increases the authorizing levels for NSF by 7 percent each year over the next 10 years, putting NSF on the track to double its budget. H.R. 1867 also establishes a pilot program of one-year seed grants for new investigators to help improve funding rates for young investigators and stimulate higher-risk research, encourages NSF to foster relationships between academia and enhances NSF's STEM education programs. .

Posted: April 25, 2007

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Senate to Consider Innovation Legislation

On Friday, April 20, the Senate began consideration of the bi-partisan America COMPETES Act. According to the bill's sponsors, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-MS), "the legislation is designed to help America maintain our competitive edge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in an increasingly competitive global economy." The legislation is based on recommendations by the National Academies' "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report.

Posted: April 25, 2007

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Speaker Pelosi Highlights Innovation Agenda

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi re-released the House Innovation Agenda: A Commitment to Competitiveness today. The agenda was originally released in 2005 with the intent to help create a new generation of innovators, make a sustained federal R&D commitment that promotes private sector innovation, spur affordable access to broadband technology, achieve energy independence and encourage entrepreneurial innovation in small businesses.

This week, the House will consider three separate pieces of legislation that are part of the agenda. These bills include: H.R. 362 ("10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds Science & Math Scholarship Act"), H.R. 363 ("Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Research Act") andH.R. 1332 ("Small Business Lending Improvements Act of 2007.")

For additional information on the three bills, please visit http://science.house.gov/legislation/leg_highlights_list.aspx.

Posted: April 24, 2007

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Proposer's Conferences Announced; May 21 Deadline for NIST ATP Funding Competition

As noted in an earlier posting, the NIST Advanced Technology Program (ATP) recently announced its FY 2007 R&D funding competition. Nearly $60 million will be available for awards. During the next two weeks, the ATP will be hosting "Proposers' Conferences." These meetings will provide general information on the program, tips on preparing proposals, and the opportunity for questions and answers. For those who can't attend any of the meetings, the April 13 meeting will be available via webcast at www.atp.nist.gov.

To learn more about the meetings, please visit http://www.atp.nist.gov/atp/proposers.htm.

Posted: April 11, 2007

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NIST Advanced Technology Program Offers New R&D Funding Competition

On April 4, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced that the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) will offer a new competition for high-risk, industrial R&D projects for FY 2007. The ATP provides funding for small and large companies or joint ventures to pursue innovative technologies for broad national benefit. The ATP expects to have approximately $60 million for awards from this competition. Projects are selected in a competitive, peer-reviewed process. Project proposals must be submitted to the ATP by 3 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 21, 2007.

For more information, visit the NIST website.

Posted: April 6, 2007

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OSA Public Policy Committee Chair to Lead NSBP

Peter Delfyett, University of Central Florida professor and chair of OSA's Public Policy Committee has been named president-elect of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP).

Delyfett will serve as NSBP's president-elect for one year and then as president for two years. He is also an OSA Fellow and serves on OSA's Board of Directors. For more information about Delfyett and his new position at NSBP, click here.

Posted: March 21, 2007

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Bi-partisan Competitiveness Legislation Introduced in the Senate

On March 5, Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the "America COMPETES Act". The legislation increases the federal investment in research and strengthens science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs. The intent, according to the sponsors, is to help America retain its competitive edge in science and technology. The COMPETE Act is similar to bi-partisan legislation introduced last year.

Posted: March 8, 2007

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House Science and Technology Committee Releases Views and Estimates

The House S&T Committee released their views and estimates on the President's Fiscal Year 2008 budget request. Each committee provides views and estimates on federal agencies under their jurisdiction to the Budget Committee. The Budget Committee then uses these as a guide as they put together the FY 2008 Budget Resolution.

The S&T Committee urges the Budget Committee to "recognize the contribution and benefits that research and development and science and technology investments have for our country's economic competitiveness, energy security, education standards, job growth, and environmental health."

Posted: March 8, 2007

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Bipartisan Views & Estimates: Energy & Environment Committee

Senate Energy and Environment Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and ranking member Peter Domenici (R-NM) released their views of President Bush's Fiscal Year 2008 budget request. Of particular note is the Committee support for the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) as well as the Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI). As proposed by the president, the AEI would provide $2.1 billion to reduce our nation's dependence on imported energy sources. The ACI would provide increased investments in research at agencies including NSF, Department of Energy Office of Science, and NIST.

Each Senate committee is required to analyze and provide its views and estimates of the Federal agencies under their jurisdiction. The Senate Budget Committee then uses these as a guide as the put together their FY 2008 budget resolution. To view the document, click here.

Posted: March 2, 2007

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Senate Passes FY 2007 Continuing Resolution

On February 14, the Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running through the end of this fiscal year. Last year, Congress was able to pass only two of the 11 funding bills. The government, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense, has been operating on short-term continuing resolutions with the latest expiring on February 15.

The CR is identical to the one passed by the House on January 31. Although most agencies funded by the CR receive flat funding over last year, several science agencies did receive slight increases over their FY 2006 levels. The Research and Related Account at the National Science Foundation will receive a 6 percent increase to $5.92 billion. The Department of Energy, Office of Science is slated to receive an additional $200 million and the NIST Innovation Programs will receive an additional $50 million. The CR is notable because it does not include any new earmarks.

Posted: February 15, 2007

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Sen. Bingaman Named 2007 OSA Advocate of Optics

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman is being recognized today as OSA's 2007 Advocate of Optics. Sen. Bingaman was selected as this year's advocate because of his extraordinary leadership in seeking to increase federal investments in the sciences, including the critical area of research and development. He is also being recognized for his work to advance energy efficiency through his continued support for energy-saving optical technologies like solid state lighting (SSL). Sen. Bingaman was actively involved in OSA's Senate Science and Technology (S&T) Caucus briefing last summer on SSL with optics.

To be recognized as an OSA Advocate of Optics, a public official must have a record consistent with his or her support of science, optics and photonics and be an enthusiastic advocate for science policy issues, with particular regard to the advancement of the science of light.

Posted: February 8, 2007

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President Bush Releases FY 2008 Budget Proposal

The Bush Administration released their recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget on Monday. Many key scientific programs saw increases in funding for research and development.

Specifically, the budget proposal includes increased funds for programs covered in the American Competitiveness Initiative (NSF, DOE Office of Science and NIST). An additional $764 million is proposed for these agencies; if the House-passed continuing resolution for FY 2007 becomes law, this will mean a 7 percent increase over 2007 levels.

Although the president's recommendations include increases in funding for the Department of Defense (DOD), funding for basic research at the DOD is lower than expected, and it will be important for Congress to work to increase this amount so that advancements vital to national security can continue to be made.

To view OSA's statement on the FY08 budget, click here. For more information on the budget numbers, go to www.omb.gov.

Posted: February 7, 2007

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House Passes Temporary Funding Measure

On Jan. 31, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government running through Oct. 1. All government agencies with the exception of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security are currently being funded through a CR that expires on Feb. 15. Although most agencies will receive flat funding of their FY 2006 levels, several science agencies did receive slight increases. The Research and Related Account at the National Science Foundation will receive a 6 percent increase to $5.92 billion. The Department of Energy, Office of Science is slated to receive an additional $200 million and the NIST Innovation Programs will receive an additional $50 million. The CR is notable because it does not include any new earmarks.

The Senate will next consider the CR. If the Senate were to amend the measure, it would either be sent back to the House or require a House-Senate conference to hash out the differences between the versions. The new bill needs to be cleared by Feb. 15 to avert a government shutdown.

Posted: February 1, 2007

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Pelosi and Reid on Doubling of Physical Sciences Funding

Last Friday, House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid delivered the Democrats' national Address on the State of Our Union. The speech focused on preparing for the 21st century by providing the necessary tools to unleash the next generation of growth and jobs. This includes doubling federal funding for basic research and development in the physical sciences and modernizing and expanding the research and development tax credit.

According to the Speaker, "Innovation also requires federal grants to our universities, which have long been the spark for great breakthroughs: from the Internet, to biosciences, to fiber optics, to nanotechnology." To view the entire address, please visit
http://speaker.house.gov/newsroom/speeches?id=0008.

Posted: January 23, 2007

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Gingrich and Gordon Call for Increased Investment in R&D Funding

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) recently wrote a joint op-ed in the Washington Times calling for increased investment in scientific R&D at the Department of Defense.

Gingrich and Gordon noted the connection between scientific and technological innovations to the stability of both national security and the economy. They said, "We take for granted advances in military equipment from decade to decade, but imagine having fought wars from World War II to the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq without the use of radar, lasers, stealth technology, fiber-optic-based communications, satellite and global positioning system (GPS) navigation, and precision guidance technologies. These technologies have at least one thing in common — all are the end result of basic research — much of which, by the way, took place on the campuses of our nation's universities." They went on to point out that many of these advances cross-over into daily consumer life in telecommunications, transportation and manufacturing applications.

To read the op-ed in its entirety, go to http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20070116-085700-4481r.htm.

Posted: January 23, 2007

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New House Science & Technology Chair Introduces Innovation Legislation

On January 11, 2007, the new Science and Technology Committee chairman, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), introduced three competitiveness bills. These bills were originally introduced in the 109th Congress and mirror the Gathering Storm report recommendations. Variations of this legislation passed the Science Committee in May of 2006 but did not make it to the House floor. The ranking Republican member, Ralph Hall (R-TX), is an original cosponsor. Committee staff anticipates fast action on these pieces of legislation. The Committee will hold hearings in March and then move it to the House floor at the end of that month. To view the legislation, please visit http://science.house.gov/.

Posted: January 23, 2007

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Continuing Resolution for Remainder of FY 2007 Funding Bills

Democrats assumed power in early January having to tackle the remaining nine of 11 Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 spending bills that the Republicans were not able to pass. The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security bills were the only bills that actually cleared the chamber last year. The federal government has largely been operating on a continuing resolution (CR), which runs out on February 15. The House and Senate appropriations chairmen, Senator Robert Byrd (WV) and Rep. David Obey (WI), have both expressed a desire to pass a continuing resolution through the end of this fiscal year. The CR would not include any earmarks and will freeze the agencies' ability to move forward with new and current initiatives, as funding levels would remain at FY 2006 levels. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science all received large increases as part of President Bush's American Competitiveness Initiative when these bills passed the full House and the Senate Appropriations Committee. With the CR, these increases will likely now be lost for this year. The chairmen have indicated they will increase funding in the CR by $7 billion for certain programs, not yet specifying which ones. The science and engineering community has made a concerted push to ensure that some of the additional funding be given to NSF, NIST, or DOE.

Posted: January 23, 2007

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