APS News

Washington Dispatch


September 30: Government Shutdown Avoided

Just hours before the government was set to shut down at midnight on September 30, Congress passed a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through December 11, 2015. The House passed the CR by a vote of 277-151 and the Senate by 78-20. Opponents of federal funding of Planned Parenthood cast most of the votes against the bill.

While most CRs maintain flat funding, the current short-term measure includes a 0.02% cut. But unlike the sequester, which mandated across-the-board cuts, under this bill the agencies themselves will be able to determine where best to make cuts. 

In December, it is unlikely that Congress will enact appropriations for the balance of the fiscal year. Instead, Congress will probably pass yet another CR, either for another short period or for the entire fiscal year.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Both the Senate and House have passed versions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and as this issue of APS News went to press, negotiators from both chambers were still working out their differences in conference with the goal of producing a final version that is mutually acceptable. Staff members have indicated that the process is going well.


American Research Investment Fund

Former U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-10th-Va.) and Norman Augustine, retired chairman of Lockheed Martin Corporation, coauthored an op-ed in The Hill newspaper, writing that the best way for the U.S. to compete with China is to start an American Research Investment Fund. (For more on this proposed fund, see “Thinking Big and Outside the Box,” APS News, July 2015.) Read the op-ed


After considering membership comments on the revised APS Statement on Civic Engagement and the proposed Statement on Women in Physics, the APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) approved sending both to the APS Board of Directors for review. The Board approved each statement, and the APS Council of Representatives will consider both at its upcoming November meeting.

The Council is also scheduled to vote in November on the proposed Statement on Earth’s Changing Climate, and also on several current statements up for review by POPA in 2015. 

The Physics & the Public Subcommittee continues its work with the American Institute of Physics on a survey focused on overcoming the obstacles of recruiting teachers in the physical sciences. The American Chemical Society and the Computing Research Association are collaborating in the effort. This subcommittee is also developing a proposal for a study on the status of women in physics.

The Energy & Environment Subcommittee is overseeing a November workshop addressing the long-term challenges of helium supply and pricing. The American Chemical Society and the Materials Research Society have agreed to collaborate in the study. This subcommittee is also overseeing the expansion of two pilot programs initiated in 2015: the Liquid Helium Purchasing Program and a science policy internship centered on advancing APS policy goals derived from the 2011 Energy Critical Elements report.

A template for study proposals can be found online, along with a suggestion box for future POPA studies.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Emily Conover
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Art Director and Special Publications Manager: Kerry G. Johnson
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik