APS News

Washington Dispatch

ISSUE: BUDGET
Sequestration
Across the board federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, took effect March 1. Defense discretionary accounts declined 7.3 percent and non-defense discretionary accounts, 5.9 percent. The Continuing Resolution, which has been funding federal programs at last fiscal year’s levels, expires on March 27, requiring Congressional action to avoid a government shutdown.

On March 6, the House of Representatives passed legislation extending the CR to the September 30, the end of fiscal year 2013 (FY13). The House bill incorporates the sequestration and provides some limited reprogramming, but only for the Department of Defense.

On March 12, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted legislation that maintains the sequestration but, to mitigate the sequester, provides some reprogramming for NIST and NASA along with modest funding changes for NSF and OSTP. The Senate bill maintains FY12 appropriated levels for the Department of Energy, NIH, and the Department of Defense. At press time, the Committee bill was still awaiting full Senate action.

Fiscal Year 2014 Presidential Budget Request
The President’s Budget Request, legally mandated for delivery on the first Monday in February, was delayed because of the uncertainties in the baseline for the FY13 budget, created by the sequestration and uncertainties surrounding extension of the Continuing Resolution. The White House has signaled that it expects to submit the presidential budget on April 11. The budget request is expected to be lean with flat or marginally increased funding for science.

ISSUE: POPA
A POPA study committee charged with examining technical issues associated with long-term operation of nuclear reactors met in February for a two-day workshop, receiving information from industry, university and government laboratory experts, as well as from and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The committee expects to release its report later this year.

A study, jointly sponsored by APS and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), has completed a draft report on nuclear and radiological detection for the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO). The report, currently under review, will be released later this year.

A two-day workshop devoted to potential U.S.-Russian agreements on non-strategic nuclear warheads and sponsored by the State Department in conjunction with APS and the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), took place in February. Participants included policy and technical experts from the United States, Russia, Turkey, Sweden, France and the United Kingdom.

A template for study proposals can be found online, along with a suggestion box for future POPA studies, by visiting:
http://www.aps.org/policy/reports/popa-reports/suggestions/index.cfm.

ISSUE: MEDIA UPDATE
Roll Call, a leading Capitol Hill newspaper, published Michael Lubell’s column, “Lessons from the Cliffhanger” on Jan. 21. The piece noted that the Jan. 1 fiscal deal made sequestration more politically palatable by lowering reductions of defense and non-defense spending. On March 1, Lubell appeared on NPR’s Science Friday program in a segment titled “Mapping the effects of the sequester on science.”  Lubell said the sequestration would have long-term, devastating effects on science.

The February edition of Capitol Hill Quarterly, published by the APS DC Office, featured an op-ed by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. In the piece, Smith notes the country should continue to support scientific research and STEM education, even in the face of tough fiscal times. He explained that research has given us innovations and business that stimulate economic growth in our nation.

Log on to the APS Public Affairs Web site (http://www.aps.org/policy) for more information.


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Editor: Alan Chodos
Staff Science Writer: Michael Lucibella