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Congress has made little progress since the September Washington Dispatch on its appropriations bills for fiscal year 2006. Although the new fiscal year began on October 1, only two of the eleven Senate spending bills were signed into law in time for its start. As a result, most of the federal government is operating on continuing resolutions, which restricts the operations, budgets and planning of the affected accounts.
The Senate did pass the Defense appropriations bill and the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill. The CJS bill, which the Appropriations Committee approved in July, includes NSF, NIST STRS, and NASA Science, whose values we reported in September. A summary of the Senate and House values for the accounts appears in the table below.
The next step is for the differences in the House and Senate versions of each bill to be worked out in “Conference.” Both chambers must approve the reconciled bill before it goes to the President for his consideration. The progress of all spending bills is tracked at the AAAS website: http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/approp06.htm.
Meanwhile, the Administration, in a closely guarded process, is working on its request for the FY07 budget, which it will announce on the first Monday of February. The President’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is currently reviewing the requests from the Departments and independent agencies. Given the extremely tight budgets and calls for cuts to both mandatory and discretionary spending, science research funding is expected to be under great pressure.
As previously reported, the APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) issued a Discussion Paper on nuclear power and proliferation resistance titled, "Securing Benefits, Limiting Risk." In response to the report, the National Nuclear Security Administration is establishing a Task Force on Safeguards that will evaluate needs and develop a technology roadmap. Also, bipartisan legislation is being developed that would, among other things, authorize funding for a Safeguards R&D program and authorize proliferation resistance modeling. To view the report, please go to http://www.aps.org/policy/reports/popa-reports/proliferation-resistance/index.cfm.
Last spring Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA 10th), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies, directed the Department of Commerce to hold an Innovation Summit in Washington. “The National Summit on Competitiveness: Investing In US Innovation,” will be held on December 6th 2005 in the Department of Commerce Building on Constitution Avenue. Co-hosted by the presidents of the American Electronics Association, the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, and George Mason University, the meeting will feature talks and discussions with CEOs of leading US companies, as well as meetings with cabinet-level federal officials. More information is available at http://www.usinnovation.org/.
As previously reported, the APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) identified the Creationism/ID debate as an issue of concern for the Society. Under the leadership of Bob Eisenstein, the APS Washington Office is working with a number of other science organizations on a cooperative response. The Office of Public Affairs has posted information on its webpage regarding Intelligent Design, Creationism, and the APS position on this issue. For more information, please go to http://www.aps.org/policy/.
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