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 - 2020

OSA Expresses Concerns Over Elimination of Federal Employee Diversity and Inclusion Training Programs

OSA signed onto a letter with numerous scientific societies asking the U.S. Government to rescind the two executive actions that eliminate federal employee training programs relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Read the letter.

Posted: 7 October 2020

U.S. Government Launches Quantum.Gov

The U.S. Government has launched www.quantum.gov.  The website is “the home of the National Quantum Initiative and ongoing activities to explore and promote Quantum Information Science.”  Read more.

On the website, you can also view the Quantum Frontiers Report on Community Input to the Nation’s Strategy for Quantum Information Science, released by the White House National Quantum Coordination Office.

Posted: 7 October 2020

OSA Supports Call for NASEM to Assess the Influence of Systemic Racism in Academia and Identify Strategies for Change

OSA signed onto a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) thanking her for her “leadership in confronting inequities in the U.S. scientific enterprise that have prevented full participation of racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in STEM.”  The letter further supports Chairwoman Johnson’s “call for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to undertake a study to acknowledge and assess this structural problem, namely systemic racism in academia.”  Read the letter.

Posted: 2 September 2020

U.S. Government Modifications to Student and Exchange Visitor Program

On 6 July 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) modified temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools in the U.S.   Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program are prohibited from taking a full online course load while remaining in the U.S.  During the Spring and Summer semesters of 2020, an exemption to this rule had been provided due to COVID-19.  This would have eliminated that exemption for the Fall 2020 Semester.  Read ICE announcement.  However, on 14 July, at the start of the court hearing on the Harvard/MIT lawsuit, the judge announced that ICE had agreed to rescind the 6 July policy. OSA worked actively to oppose this policy as described below.

OSA Activities:

  • OSA released a statement opposing the 6 July policy.  Read OSA’s statement.
  • OSA signed onto a letter opposing the 6 July policy.  Read the letter.
  • OSA signed onto an amicus brief, led by the American Physical Society and signed by 16 scientific societies, supporting Harvard and MIT's lawsuit to block the ICE decision.

Posted: 8 July 2020

Updated: 14 July 2020

U.S. Senate Approves Appointment of Panchanathan for NSF Director

The U.S. Senate approved Dr. Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan’s nomination for Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF).  OSA signed onto a letter with numerous other science societies through the Coalition of National Science Funding in support of approving Dr. Panchanathan.  View the letter.

Posted: 23 June 2020

Webinar: U.S. Federal Government COVID-19 Assistance Programs for Companies, Not for Profits available from the U.S. Small Business Administration & Federal Reserve Bank

Watch Webinar Video

Description:

• Review of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Program

• Review of the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Grants Programs

• Review Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program

• Review COVID-19 related to Family Medical Leave Act & General Tax Provisions

• Questions and Process for Follow-Up Information

Moderator:  David Lang, Senior Director of Government Relations, The Optical Society (OSA)

Speaker: Chris Fish, Vice President, McAllister & Quinn

 

Coalitions Support Investment in Scientific Research Enterprise in Future COVID-19 Economic Relief Package

The Taskforce for American Innovation led a letter signed by 18 coalitions in support of the investments in the scientific research enterprise being included in a future COVID-19 economic relief package.  OSA is a member of numerous science coalitions that endorsed the letter including the National Photonics Initiative (OSA is a cofounding sponsor), NIST Coalition (OSA is a co-chair), Coalition for National Science Funding, Coalition for National Security Research, Energy Sciences Coalition, and more.

Read the letter for the specific recommendations.

Posted: 11 May 2020

OSA Supports STEM Infrastructure Investments in Future Long-Term Economic Relief Package

OSA endorsed a U.S. House of Representatives Dear Colleague letter led by Rep. T.J. Cox (D-CA) and Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH) supporting investments in STEM infrastructure in a long-term COVID-19 economic relief package.  Read the letter and the press release.

Posted: 11 May 2020

OSA Endorses U.S. Congressional Dear Colleague Supporting Scientific Research Workforce in Future COVID-19 Relief Package

OSA endorsed a U.S. Congressional Dear Colleague Letter led by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) in the U.S. House of Representatives and was signed by 182 House members in support of the U.S. scientific research workforce needs being included in an economic relief package.  Read the Dear Colleague letter.

A similar letter is currently being circulated in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA).

Posted: 4 May 2020

Information on 22 April U.S. President's Executive Order

On 22 April 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump released a new Executive Order “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak” to suspend issuance of immigrant visas for 60 days to people currently outside of the U.S. who do not have a current valid immigrant visa.  The new executive order does not apply to non-immigrant visas.  For specific limitations and exceptions, read the executive order.

Posted: 1 May 2020

Science Coalitions Send Letters to Congress on Future COVID-19 Stimulus Packages

OSA is a member of a number of science coalitions.  Several of these coalitions recently submitted letters in response to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s request for feedback from the science community regarding future COVID-19 relief packages.  A few of the coalition letters are listed below:

Posted: 21 April 2020

OSA Supports Public Health Infrastructure Funding

OSA signed onto a letter urging the U.S. Congress to “include a significant, long-term investment in public health infrastructure” as they consider legislation in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Read the letter.

Posted: 3 April 2020

OSA Statement on CARES Act

Read the OSA Statement on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

27 March 2020

31 January 2020 Immigration Proclamation

On 31 January 2020 U.S. President Donald Trump issued a “Proclamation on Improving Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry” which prevents nationals of Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Burma (Myanmar), and Kyrgyzstan from entering the United States on immigrant visas beginning on 21 February 2020 at 12:01 am eastern standard time. This policy, like the 2017 policy, does not apply to individuals who seek nonimmigrant visas. The 2017 policy remains unchanged by this new Proclamation. The new policy does not apply to Special Immigrant Visas, meaning that nationals of these six countries may still apply for Special Immigrant Visas under the new policy. Only Diversity Immigrant Visas are suspended for Tanzania and Sudan nationals. Read more.

U.S. Department of Energy Announces Quantum Funding

On 10 January 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced “up to $625 million over the next five years to establish two to five multidisciplinary Quantum Information Science (QIS) Research Centers in support of the National Quantum Initiative.”  Read the full DOE press release.

Additionally, the DOE released the Funding Opportunity Announcement for the National Quantum Information Science Research Centers.  Read more.  Pre-applications are due 10 February 2020 by 5pm Eastern Time.

Posted: 15 January 2020

FY20 Funding Legislation for U.S. Federal Government Signed into Law

The U.S. Congress passed and the U.S. President signed into law the final FY20 Appropriations bills to fund the U.S. Federal Government in FY20.  View the Budget Tracking chart to see the final FY20 numbers for some science agencies and programs compared to FY19 funding levels, the President’s Budget Request, and the proposed levels for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

Posted: 23 December 2019

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