ISSUE: Science Research Budgets
As of September 12, the APS News filing deadline, neither the House nor the Senate had moved any Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations bills to the respective floors. With Congress scheduled to recess on September 26, leaders in both chambers were preparing to put the federal government on a Continuing Resolution (CR) that would keep almost all agencies funded at FY 2008 levels. The Democratic House leadership indicated, moreover, that it was loath to schedule a post-election lame-duck session at this time. Should Congress not return for any further business in November or December, the FY 2009 CR would extend until February or March. What action the new 111th Congress would take on FY 2009 appropriations remains murky and will almost certainly depend on the outcome of the November elections. As a result, Federal agencies have been making plans for budgets that would remain level for at least the first 6 months of the new fiscal year.
Although the CR will keep most federal activities operating at FY 2008 levels, the White House has signaled that it might look favorably on a limited number of exceptions. Science could fall into that category, since it has strong bipartisan support. Several prominent congressional Democrats have said that they believe that an additional fiscal stimulus is necessary to keep the nation’s economy afloat. It is unclear whether the Administration and Congress will be able to strike a deal that includes waivers in the FY 2009 CR, and if so, what those waivers would be.
ISSUE: Nuclear Weapons Policy
The APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA), in cooperation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), is issuing an unclassified report titled Nuclear Weapons in 21st Century US National Security. The project is based on four workshops covering four areas: Technical, International, Military, and Integration. Each workshop has had strong participation of physicists working in the relevant issue areas.
ISSUE: POPA Activities
At the October meeting of the APS Panel on Public Affairs, the committee will be going over the following agenda items:
• Review of first items sent in via the new POPA Report Suggestion box (see below),
• A proposed future POPA Report from the Energy and Environment subcommittee,
• Draft statements on diversity and civic engagement of scientists.
The POPA Report Suggestion Box is where APS members are encouraged to suggest potential future POPA studies. Submitted suggestions will be directed to the relevant POPA subcommittee for discussion. Please note, while POPA welcomes member input, it may not be able to pursue, or respond to, every suggestion. The Suggestion Box can be found at: http://www.aps.org/policy/reports/popa-reports/suggestions.
ISSUE: Washington Office Media Update
The Cincinnati Enquirer published an editorial on August 31 regarding maintaining the country’s competitive edge by investing in basic research and retaining high-tech jobs. The editorial was the result of efforts of the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation and the Semiconductor Industry Association.
Visit APS Public Affairs for more information.
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Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff
Contributing Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Science Writing Intern: Nadia Ramlagan