APS News

Washington Dispatch

ISSUE: Science Research Budgets

NSF and NIST Funding
After several months of delay, and nearly a month and a half after the FY10 Energy and Water appropriations bill was signed into law, the House and Senate concluded conference discussions on a “minibus” package created to speed passage of the remaining FY2010 appropriations bills. The minibus package includes the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) FY10 appropriations bill in which the NSF and NIST budgets are contained. The Senate had passed that bill on November 5th, after action was delayed by a number of contentious amendments, but conference continued to be delayed as other appropriations bills also lagged behind. The House passed the package on December 10th.

The Senate will consider the package the weekend of December 11th, because Republicans are blocking a consent agreement to complete the measure early the following week. The package is likely to pass, with the Senate either staying in session over the weekend to let the cloture clock run or agreeing to skip those steps and vote Monday. It is likely that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would likely file cloture on the omnibus, setting up a Saturday cloture vote and a Sunday vote on passage.

The current continuing resolution expires on December 18th, and if the minibus bill is not signed by the President by that time, Congress will consider a very short term CR to bridge the gap between CR expiration and final passage and signature of the minibus bill in order to ensure continued funding for the affected agencies, including NIST and NSF.

ISSUE: POPA Activities
The National Security Subcommittee is finalizing a report that examines technical steps supporting nuclear arsenal downsizing. Release of the study’s final product is anticipated for early 2010.

The Energy Critical Elements Study, which will examine the scarcity of critical elements for new energy technologies, has established its committee membership and will hold its first meeting in March of 2010 at MIT. The study will convene via web-conference in December to prepare for their first workshop.

The Electric Grid Study, which seeks to examine the technical challenges and priorities for increasing the amount of renewable electricity on the grid, held its first workshop in early October 2009. A second workshop, which was tentatively scheduled for December 2009, will be held in early 2010.

The Carbon Capture Study, which examines non-biological CO2 Capture, is in the final stages of review and production and will be available for release in early 2010.
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ISSUE: Media Update
Congressman Bart Gordon (TN-6th), chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, wrote an op-ed for the November edition of Capitol Hill Quarterly, stating that the path toward lowering our carbon emissions, meeting our growing need for energy, and growing new sectors of the economy–and the jobs they provide–is through the research and development (R&D) of new energy technologies.

New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote an op-ed on December 8, underscoring the importance of funding research, even in a tight economy. He noted that “federal research money has been astonishingly productive, leading to DNA sequencing, semiconductors, lasers and many other technologies.”

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Editor: Alan Chodos