DC Digest – May 19, 2014

In Today’s Issue

  • This Week in Washington
  • Senate Appropriations Panel Holds Hearing on Defense Science and Technology
  • Task Force on American Innovation Thanks House Appropriators for Science Funding
  • U.S. Announces $75 Million Fund to Spur Higher Ed Innovation


THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
Defense Authorization: The National Defense Authorization Act comes to the floor of the House of Representatives, with lawmakers filing amendments relate to the purchase of Russian helicopters, Guantanamo Bay, and the sexual assault in the military.

Appropriations Action: The Consumer-Science-Justice appropriations bill could come to the floor of House of Representatives as early as this week. Both House and Senate lawmakers mark up Agriculture spending bills next week, with debate on federal nutrition policies for schools and the Women, Infants and Children Program. Senate appropriators also plan to mark up their Military Construction-VA bill.

Committee Action: Congressional committees will hold hearings on topics from U.S.-Mexico relations (to be held amid Secretary Kerry’s trip to the country) and Boko Haram; a confirmation hearing for nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and oversight hearings on the FBI and the FCC.

Read More:
Congress Considers Hundreds of NDAA Amendments This Week (Defense One)
House GOP Releases Agriculture Budget (Politico)

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS PANEL HOLDS HEARING ON DEFENSE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense held a hearing on May 14 on defense science and technology (S&T) in the FY15 budget.  Witnesses comprised research leaders from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the three military services, and DARPA.  Although the session focused largely on applied research and development programs and projects at DOD, it was clear that budget cuts, particularly those imposed by sequestration, are having harmful effects on the entire defense S&T ecosystem.

In his prepared testimony, Assistant Secretary for Defense Research and Engineering Alan Shaffer focused on the effects on the DOD S&T workforce:

“This past year has been unlike previous years in our community; the collective impact of the sequester-forced civilian furlough and program curtailment, the October 2013 government shutdown, and the indirect impacts of the sequester, such as restrictions on our young scientists and engineers attending technical conferences, has impacted the health of our workforce and the programs they execute in ways that we are just beginning to understand” (page 2).

Read More:
Defense Hearing: Defense Research and Innovation (appropriations.senate.gov)

 

TASK FORCE ON AMERICAN INNOVATION THANKS HOUSE APPROPRIATORS FOR SCIENCE FUNDING
The Task Force on American Innovation (TFAI), a coalition of industry, university associations, and scientific societies, issued a statement on May 15 praising the strong funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA science programs in the House FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science (C-J-S) appropriations bill.

The TFAI letter commends the entire House Appropriations Committee for the added funding, but singles out both C-J-S Subcommittee Chair Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Ranking Member Chaka Fattah (D-PA) for their strong advocacy on behalf of the nation’s investment in science.

Read More:
Innovation Task Force Statement (innovationtaskforce.org)

U.S. ANNOUNCES $75 MILLION FUND TO SPUR HIGHER ED INNOVATION
The Obama administration on Thursday formally unveiled a new program its officials hope will spur innovation, improve college access and completion, and cut student costs. The grants will fund the development and testing of innovative approaches and strategies at colleges and universities that improve college attainment and make higher education more affordable for students and families.

Read More:
Federal Fund for Innovation (insidehighered)
U.S. Department of Education Announces $75 Million First in the World Competition (ed.gov)