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 - 2018

OSA Signs onto Letter Relating to Student Visas

OSA signed onto a letter with several scientific societies in support of allowing F-1 student visa holders to express “dual intent.”  This would allow international students to start the process for applying for permanent legal status in the United States while they are students as opposed to waiting until they graduate to start the process.  Read the letter.

Posted: October 15, 2018

Energy Programs Spending Bill for FY19 Passes

In September, Congress passed a compromise spending bill for three of the FY19 appropriations bills.  One of the bills included in this package, was the FY19 Energy and Water Appropriations Act.  This funding bills includes the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, Advanced Energy Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).  The final spending bill provided increases for all three programs.  View the OSA FY19 Budget Tracker to see the specific number comparisons.

Posted: September 24, 2018

OSA Continues to Support Increased Funding for DOE Office of Science

OSA cosigned a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) encouraging increased funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science for FY2020.  Read the letter.

Posted: August 28, 2018

OSA Signs Letter on OSTP Nomination

OSA cosigned a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in support of Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier’s nomination as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  Read the letter.

Posted: August 28, 2018

OSA Signs Letter Supporting Funding for NIST

On 13 August, OSA cosigned a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Appropriations Committees supporting funding for the National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST).  Read the letter.

Posted: August 15, 2018

Trump Administration Releases Memo on R&D Priorities

On July 31, the Trump Administration released a memo on FY2020 research and development budget priorities.  View the memo

Posted: August 2, 2018

President Trump Selects OSTP Director

On July 31, President Trump announced the selection of Kelvin Droegemeier, a meteorologist, as his choice for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director.  Read the White House announcement.  Read National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova’s statement on the selection.  Read the American Institute of Physics (AIP) FYI article on the selection.

Posted: August 2, 2018

OSA Members Write About Need For National Quantum Initiative

OSA members Chris Monroe and Michael Raymer published in the Washington Times on the need for a National Quantum Initiative and the work they have done on this topic with the National Photonics Initiative (NPI).  OSA is a cofounder of the NPI.  Monroe and Raymer, cofounding stakeholders of the National Quantum Initiative, have helped to lead the NPI's advocacy on this effort.  Read the opinion piece.

Posted: July 27, 2018

U.S. Congress Takes Action on Quantum

On 27 June, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology considered the National Quantum Initiative Act, H.R. 6227.  This legislation has bipartisan support led by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) with a total of 31 original cosponsors.  The legislation would create a coordinated national effort to significantly advance quantum research and technology.
 
Also this week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation introduced a similar bill known as the National Quantum Initiative Act, S. 3143.  The lead bipartisan cosponsors are Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL).
 
OSA, through its work as a cofounder of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), has been advocating for the creation of a National Quantum Initiative. 
 
Read the OSA Press Release
Read the NPI Press Release on the House bill
Read the NPI Press Release on the Senate bill
Read the House Science Committee’s Press Release
Watch the House Science Committee markup
Read the Senate Commerce Committee’s Press Release

Posted: June 29, 2018

Senate Introduces FY19 Science Funding Legislation

On 14 June, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations introduced its version of the FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act.  This legislation contains funding for programs such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA).  Below are the proposed funding levels in the bill.

  • NSF would be funded at $8.1 billion, which is $301 million above the FY2018 Omnibus bill and $597 million above the President’s FY19 budget request.
  • NIST would be funded at $1.04 billion, which is $161 million below FY18 Omnibus bill and $411 million above the President’s FY19 budget request.  Under NIST, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) would be funded in the bill at $140 million. The President’s FY19 budget request would eliminate the MEP program.
  • NASA would be funded at $21.3 billion, which is $587 million above FY18 Omnibus bill and $1.43 billion above the President’s FY19 budget request.

Posted: June 15, 2018

House Introduces FY19 NIH Funding Legislation

On 14 June, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations introduced its version of the FY19 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education funding bill.  This legislation contains proposed funding for a variety of programs and agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The Senate bill proposes funding NIH at $38.3 billion for FY19, which is $1.25 billion above the FY18 Omnibus bill and $4.1 billion above the President’s FY19 budget request.

Posted: June 15, 2018

House Science Committee Plans to Introduce Quantum Legislation

On 12 June, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee announced its intent to introduce legislation on quantum.  The committee released a fact sheet outlining the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018.  OSA is a cofounder of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), which has been advocating for a National Quantum Initiative legislation.

For more information:
Read the OSA Press Release
Read the NPI Press Release
Read the House Science, Space, and Technology Press Release
Read the House Science, Space, and Technology Fact Sheet on the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018
Read the National Quantum Initiative Action Plan

Posted: June 13, 2018

NPI Send Thank You Letter to Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Feinstein

The National Photonics Initiative (NPI), of which OSA is a cofounder, sent a thank you letter to the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Diane Feinstein (D-CA) thanking them for including language on Intense Ultrafast Lasers in the committee’s bill report as well as providing $80 million for the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), which the President’s Budget had slated for it to be eliminated.

Read the NPI’s Letter.
Read more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on Opportunities in Intense Ultrafast Lasers, Towards the Brightest Light.
Read OSA CEO Liz Rogan’s letter in support of funding LLE.

Posted: June 6, 2018

OSA signs onto letter about proposed visa changes

On March 30, the U.S. State Department published in the Federal Register a notice for changes to U.S. visa requirements with a public comment period deadline of May 29.  OSA joined with several other scientific societies to submit comments.  View the letter.

Posted: May 25, 2018

Senate Introduces FY19 Energy Funding Legislation

On 22 May, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations introduced its version of the FY19 Energy and Water Appropriations Act.  This legislation contains funding for programs such as Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. Below are the proposed funding levels in the bill.

  • DOE Office of Science would be funded at $6.65 billion, which is $390 million above FY18 Omnibus bill, $1.26 billion above the President’s FY19 budget request, and $50 million above the House proposed levels.
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would be funded at $375 million, which is $22 million above the FY18 Omnibus bill and $50 million above the House proposed levels.  The President’s FY19 budget request would eliminate ARPA-E.
  • Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) would be funded at $2.322 billion, which is the same funding level as the FY18 Omnibus bill, $1.626 billion above the President’s FY19 budget request, and $243 million above the House proposed level.
  • The Senate bill would also provide $80 million for the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE)/Omega Laser.  OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan sent a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees supporting funding for the LLE in FY19.

OSA has signed onto multiple letters supporting science funding for FY19.  View the coalition letters OSA signed onto on ARPA-E on 10 April and 16 April and the letter supporting funding for DOE Office of Science.

Posted: May 22, 2018

House Introduces FY19 Science Funding Legislation

On 9 May, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations introduced its version of the FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act.  This legislation contains funding for programs such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA).  Below are the proposed funding levels in the bill.

  • NSF would be funded at $8.2 billion, which is $400 million above FY18 Omnibus bill and $728 million above the President’s FY19 budget request. 
  • NIST would be funded at $985 million, which is $215 million below the FY18 Omnibus bill and $356 million above the President’s FY19 budget request.Under NIST, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) would be funded in the bill at $140 million.The President’s FY19 budget request would eliminate the MEP program.
  • NASA would be funded at $21.5 billion, $800 million above the FY18 Omnibus bill and $1.9 billion above the President’s FY19 budget request.


Posted: 14 May 2018

 

House Introduces FY19 Energy Funding Legislation

On 7 May, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations introduced its version of the FY19 Energy and Water Appropriations Act.  This legislation contains funding for programs such as Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. Below are the proposed funding levels in the bill.

  • DOE Office of Science would be funded at $6.6 billion, which is $340 million above FY18 Omnibus bill and $1.209 billion above the President’s FY19 budget request.
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would be funded at $325 million, which is $28 million below the FY18 Omnibus bill.The President’s FY19 budget request would eliminate ARPA-E.
  • Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) would be funded at $2.079 billion, which is $243 million below the FY18 Omnibus bill and $1.383 billion above the President’s FY19 budget request.

OSA has signed onto multiple letters supporting science funding for FY19.  View the coalition letters OSA signed onto on ARPA-E on 10 April and 16 April and the letter supporting funding for DOE Office of Science.

Posted: 14 May 2018

Congress Introduces the FY18 Omnibus Funding Bill

On 21 March, Congress introduced the FY18 Omnibus funding bill.  The bill provides increases to many of the science agencies and programs.  Below are some of the proposed funding levels.  Congress is expected to vote on the bill this week.
 

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) – The bill proposes funding NSF at $7.8 billion, which is a $300 million increase over FY17 and $1.147 billion more than the President’s FY18 budget request.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – The bill proposes funding NIST at $1.2 billion, which is $248 million increase over FY17 and $475 million more than the President’s FY18 budget request.
  • Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science – The bill proposes funding DOE Office of Science at $6.260 billion, which is $868 million increase over FY17 and $1.787 billion more than the President’s FY18 budget request.
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) – The bill proposes funding ARPA-E at $353 million, which is $47 million increase over FY17 and the President’s FY18 budget request proposed eliminating the program.
  • Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) – The bill proposes funding EERE at $2.322 billion, which is $232 million increase over FY17 and $1.686 billion more than the President’s FY18 budget request.
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The bill proposes funding NIH at $37 billion, which is $2.9 billion increase over FY17 and $10.08 billion more than the President’s FY18 budget request.


Posted: March 22, 2018

President’s Budget Cuts Funding for LLE


The President’s Budget for FY19 proposes a 20 percent funding cut to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) Program that will lead to major reductions in experiments at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a 50 percent cut to the OMEGA Laser Facility at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) in FY19 and “a three-year ramp-down” in federal support that would ultimately shutter the facility in FY21.

OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan sent a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees supporting funding for the LLE in FY19.

Posted: March 20, 2018

U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter Passes Away at 88

U.S. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who represents Rochester, NY, passed away.  Rep. Slaughter has been a strong advocate for optics and science. 
 
Read news the 16 March 2018, Democrat and Chronicle article, “Rep. Louise Slaughter dies at 88: A ‘giant’ and trailblazer for women
 
Statement from Rep. Slaughter’s Rules Committee colleague Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)
 
Rep. Slaughter’s interaction with OSA:

  • Watch Rep. Slaughter’s speech (Rep. Slaughter starts around 28:00) from the Light the Future event at OSA’s centennial celebration at the 2016 Frontiers in Optics conference.   
  • In 2016, Rep. Slaughter also introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives honoring the OSA centennial.

 Read the NPI news release

Posted: March 16, 2018

President's FY19 Budget Released

The President's Budget for FY19 was released in February.  View the proposed budget numbers for some of the science agencies.  View OSA news release.

OSA Signs Letter Encouraging a Budget Deal

OSA signed onto a letter encouraging Congress to reach a bipartisan budget deal to raise the budget caps for both defense and non-defense programs.  Additionally, the letter encourages Congress to make science research a top priority when distributing the additional funding from the budget cap increase.
 
Read the letter.

Posted: February 7, 2018

OSA signs onto multi-society letter to OMB

OSA signed onto a letter led by AAAS and signed by more than 40 organizations to Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to request a “commitment in ensuring that the federal government utilizes science-based decision making in its policy formulations, that scientific information is communicated in an accurate manner and reflected as such in government documents, reports and web-sites.”

Read the full letter.

Posted: January 2, 2018

OSA Joins Science Societies on Letter Expressing Concerns with Tax Provisions Impacting Graduate Students

OSA signed onto a letter signed by 44 scientific societies, led by AAAS, to express concerns over the proposed repeal of tax benefits that are designed to help graduate students reduce the burden of paying for pursuing advanced degrees.
 
Language from the letter:
“By making advanced education less affordable, it is likely to drive some students away from seeking higher education.  Because a majority of graduate students are in the key areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), these provisions will have an outsized impact in the sciences.”  Read the letter


Update December 22, 2017: The final version of the tax bill does not repeal the graduate student tax benefits.  The tax bill was signed into law on December 22, 2017.


House Science Committee Hearing on Quantum Technology

On 24 October, the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology and Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing titled American Leadership in Quantum Technology.  The hearing's purpose was to “identify where the U.S. currently stands in the international race to the development of commercially available quantum-based technologies, particularly quantum computing.”
 
The hearing contained two panels.  The first panel was made of representatives from federal agencies: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Energy (DOE).  Dr. Carl Williams, an OSA member, testified at the hearing on behalf of NIST.  The second panel was made of representatives mostly from non-governmental entities.
 
The second panel contained Dr. Chris Monroe, who testified on behalf of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), of which OSA is cofounder.  The NPI released a white paper in June of this year titled “Call for a National Quantum Initiative: Proposal to address the urgent need to develop the information infrastructure of tomorrow.”
 
Before the hearing, Professor Michael Raymer, an OSA member who works at the Center for Optical Molecular & Quantum Science at the University of Oregon, met with Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, prior to the start of the hearing.  During the hearing, Congresswoman Bonamici took time to recognize him as a special guest.
 
During the hearing, members of Congress expressed great interest in the topic of quantum technologies.
 
Watch the hearing
Read the written testimony
View the NPI National Quantum Initiative white paper
NPI News Release

Posted: October 24, 2017

Join the Optics Legislative Network - OSA's grassroots email list. Sign up today.
Note: Non-OSA members can sign up for the OLN by emailing public-policy@osa.org.

Interested in combining your interest in policy with your science and technical background?

Apply for OSA's Congressional Fellowships for the opportunity to work on Capitol Hill for one year.