FYI THIS MONTH: MAY 2005
HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN WASHINGTON IMPACTING THE PHYSICS COMMUNITY FROM FYI, THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS BULLETIN OF SCIENCE POLICY NEWS
Audrey T. Leath, Richard M. Jones
fyithismonth@aip.org
CONGRESSIONAL LETTERS ON R&D: A flurry of recent letters demonstrate congressional concern over R&D funding. More than two-thirds of the Senate signed onto a "Dear Colleague" letter to appropriators, initiated by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), advocating higher funding for DOE's Office of Science, and a similar House letter, authored by Reps. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), received 121 signatures. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) sent a letter to President Bush calling for a tripling of the federal budget for basic research and development over the next decade, while a "Dear Colleague" letter to Wolf, written by Reps. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) and urging greater funding for NSF, was signed by 167 House members. Wolf, Ehlers, and Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) are also promoting a conference on science, technology, trade and manufacturing to be held this fall.

CONGRESS CONSIDERS NASA PROGRAMS : Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), the new chair of NASA's Senate authorizing subcommittee, wants to see a broad set of research objectives for the space station. In other hearings, concerns about completion of the station, access to space after the shuttle's retirement, and servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope were raised by Senate appropriators, while House Science Committee members warned against drastic cuts, cancellations and delays to NASA Earth science missions.

PHYSICS EMPLOYMENT : The American Institute of Physics's Statistical Research Center has released results of a survey on the initial employment of recent physics graduates.

SOCIETY STATEMENTS : The American Association of Physics Teachers, an AIP Member Society, issued a new statement to counter attempts to weaken the teaching of evolution and cosmology. AIP and five of its Member Societies joined in a statement supporting additional reforms to the visa application process for foreign students and scientists.

APPROPRIATIONS NEWS : House appropriators approved a 20% increase over FY05 for the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate and a 1.8% increase for DOE's Office of Science. The spending bill for DOE includes language at odds with the Administration's intentions for nuclear weapons initiatives, and an amendment that would delay U.S. obligations to ITER. An Interior spending bill that would increase USGS funding by 4.1% has now been passed by the full House.

DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION : The House passed a defense authorization bill that sets the FY06 authorization level for DOD S&T at 14.5% less than the current budget, and proposes removing the nuclear component from the study of a "bunker buster" weapon and shifting the study from DOE to DOD.

PHYSICS OLYMPIAD : Members of this year's U.S. Physics Olympiad Team were honored at a Capitol Hill ceremony and in a Congressional Record statement by Rep. Ehlers.