Updates for the APS Office of Public Affairs


Continued Gridlock In Washington D.C.
Congress has ceased work on spending bills for fiscal year 2015 and is now focused on a short term fix to keep the government open. On September 10, the House introduced a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through December 11, 2014, and then quickly delayed voting. The two key considerations causing the delay were whether or not to include Export-Import Bank authorization and whether the CR should last until March 1, 2015. The March date is favored by conservatives who expect the Senate to be Republican-controlled after the election and therefore wish to avoid giving the current Democrat-controlled Senate any opportunity during the lame-duck session. If the current House CR does come up for a vote, it would cut funding for non-defense discretionary spending by 0.06 percent.

All other legislation is likely dead, including an America COMPETES re-authorization that passed the House in separate smaller bills and was referred to committee in the Senate. The House passed the “Student Success Act” to replace “No Child Left Behind.” But the Senate is not expected to consider the bill, having decided to focus on its own, very different version of an NCLB replacement. Even bills that seem to have strong agreement from both sides of the aisle, such as the Higher Education Act that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) described as a “love fest,” are also very unlikely to move.


The Seattle Times published an op-ed by Rachel Scherr, a senior research scientist at Seattle Pacific University, on September 15. The piece stresses the importance of boosting the number of women and minorities in STEM careers, as well the need for increasing science funding to keep the U.S. globally competitive.

Roll Call, a leading Capitol Hill newspaper, published the latest op-ed by APS Director of Public Affairs Michael S. Lubell on September 16. The piece focuses on using the “science of the future” to address challenges that include developing energy efficient automobiles.

The APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) continues its review of the APS 2007 Statement on Climate Change. Information about the process can be found at the Climate Change Statement Review page.

The APS Council’s evaluation of the (POPA-approved) proposed APS Statement on the Status of Women in Physics is in progress; both the statement and Council commentary will be reviewed next by the APS Executive Board.

The POPA Physics & the Public Subcommittee will present a proposal for modification of APS Statement 06.3 — Career Options for Physicists — at the next POPA meeting. The Subcommittee will also present a formal proposal to conduct a survey on incentives to increase the number of well-qualified students deciding to enter teaching in key STEM shortage areas.

The POPA Energy & Environment Subcommittee is investigating potential new activities associated with the 2011 POPA Report on Energy Critical Elements.

For a template for study proposals can be found online, along with a suggestion box for future POPA studies, see the POPA Reports Suggestions page.

Rachel ScherrRachel E. Scherr is a senior research scientist at Seattle Pacific University working on physics education research. Rachel became interested in advocacy as the only girl in her high school physics class, and then as an editor of a feminist newspaper in college. Recently Rachel worked with the APS Office of Public Affairs and authored an Op-Ed piece in the Seattle Times. The Op-Ed discusses the need for physics to close the gender gap, the need for robust science funding, and the role that Congress has to play in rectifying the current lack.

The APS Office of Public Affairs is here to help you make a difference. To get your story across to local media and members of Congress, contact Tyler Glembo at glembo@aps.org.

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: Michael Lucibella
Art Director and Special Publications Manager: Kerry G. Johnson
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik

October 2014 (Volume 23, Number 9)

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Articles in this Issue
Next Steps for Energy Critical Elements
New Local Links Chapters Bring Physicists Together
Blewett Scholarship Winners Announced
DOE Joins the CHORUS
Feynman Lectures Now Freely Available Online
PhysTEC Sites Successfully Sustain Teacher Education Programs
The Back Page
Members in the Media
This Month In Physics History
Education Corner
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
International News
Washington Dispatch
Profiles In Versatility