APS News

May 2012 (Volume 21, Number 5)

Washington Dispatch

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ISSUE: Budget and Authorization Environment
Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Resolution
In the past month, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan along a party line vote, 228-191 with 228 Republicans in favor, 10 Republicans opposed, and 181 Democrats opposed. The Ryan budget plan sets a spending limit of $1.028T and lies in stark contrast with the President’s Budget Request and Senate Plan that set a spending limit of $1.049T as is stipulated in the 2011 Budget Control Act. The disparity in top line spending suggest that the chances of the House and Senate appropriations committees agreeing on new funding bills this year are slim. The House will use the Ryan budget proposal as the framework in upcoming funding debates whereas the Senate leadership has stated it will use the Budget Control Act. Thus, the activity in Washington has essentially set up a stalemate over the budget in the year to come with the most likely outcome a continuing resolution that would maintain spending at FY2012 levels at least until after the November elections.

If Budget Committee Chairman Ryan’s plan were adopted in place of the Budget Control Act it may preempt the need for sequestrations because of its lower spending limits through 2021. The spending limits proposed in the Ryan plan protect defense programs by assigning cuts to mandatory programs and non-defense discretionary spending. In the Ryan plan, the Function 250 accounts, a category that covers the physical sciences, would see a decrease in real dollar amounts until 2016, at which point it would begin to increase slightly each year until 2021. Over the next ten years, Function 250 accounts would grow by 0.5%, but after adjusting for expected inflation they would suffer a ~22% reduction in constant dollars. The Ryan budget proposes similar trajectories for most other accounts, except defense, which would see consistent growth.

The Ryan budget plan does not accord science accounts priority status. Although the Ryan budget only includes top line amounts for funding categories, if the spending cuts in Function 250 are enacted as across-the-board reductions, federal science agencies would be forced to eliminate thousands of federal grants for scientific research each year. It is not a positive sign that the starting point for the House appropriation process involves potential reductions to research programs at a time when the rest of the world is increasingly investing in science and innovation.

Be sure to follow the APS Washington Office for the latest news on the FY13 Budget:
Gray arrow Blog: Physics Frontline
Gray arrow Twitter: APSPhysicsDC

Work continues on several study proposals: extension of nuclear reactor licenses from 60 to 80 years, the technical aspects of verifying tactical nuclear weapons reductions and science-backed federal standards.  A study for the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) regarding trends in nuclear and radiological detection is in development.

POPA voted to approve a proposal for an APS Statement regarding Healing Energy. The proposed statement will now move on to APS Council for commentary and the APS Executive Board for a vote.

In February 2012, per normal APS process, the Panel on Public Affairs recommended four minor copy-edits to the 2007 APS Climate Change Statement Commentary so that the identification of sentences and paragraphs correspond to the Statement as posted
Gray arrow APS Statement 07.1 Climate Change

POPA also approved a template for all future study proposals at their February 2012 meeting. The template is posted with the POPA suggestion box for future POPA studies.
Gray arrow Suggestions for APS Policy Studies

ISSUE: Media Update
Capitol Hill Quarterly recently published an op-ed by U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, who touted the importance of federally funded scientific research to America’s global economy.
Gray arrow The Back Page by Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA 2nd)

On April 17, 2012, Roll Call printed an op-ed by Michael S. Lubell, APS Director of Public Affairs.
Gray arrow  "Fix the Hollowing Out of the Supply Chain"

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: Alan Chodos

May 2012 (Volume 21, Number 5)

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Articles in this Issue
APS Unveils Five-year Strategic Plan
APS Action Helps Save Physics Program at Northern Iowa
Physics Methods Aid Cancer Research
New Device Tells Bombs from Harmless Trash
Plant Roots, Mechanical Diggers Both Need Flexibility
The Physics of Creepy Crawlies and Ravenous Plants
Ode to an Astrophysicist: Fang Lizhi, 1936-2012
Letters to the Editor
The Back Page
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Washington Dispatch
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
International News
APS Committee on International Freedom of Scientists