FYI THIS MONTH: JULY 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
PROGRESS ON APPROPRIATIONS BILLS: Working its way through the FY 2006 spending bills, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended boosting the Department of Homeland Security's S&T budget by 31.1% over FY05, more than either the House bill or the Administration's request. In the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, Senate appropriators would provide $178.6 million for the Education Department's Math and Science Partnerships, equal to FY05 funding and less than the House recommendation. Appropriators in the Senate would also increase the budget for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering by 3.7%, more than either the House or the request. The first FY06 spending bill to be completed by Congress is the Interior bill, which would give the U.S. Geological Survey a 4.2% increase over FY05; President Bush had requested a 0.2% increase.

STATUS OF NANOTECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE: A status report on the National Nanotechnology Initiative, by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, was the subject of two recent House hearings. The report concluded that the U.S. is "the acknowledged leader in nanotechnology R&D," and in the number of patents, publications and start-up companies, but "that status is being aggressively challenged by other nations."

NASA REAUTHORIZATION: The House has now passed a reauthorization bill, H.R. 3070, for NASA, while a reauthorization bill with somewhat different provisions, S. 1281, has been introduced in the Senate. Both generally endorse President Bush's intention to return humans to the Moon, but also support a continuation of robust space and Earth science programs at NASA. At a June 28 hearing, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin talked about his plans for the agency.

FY07 BUDGET GUIDANCE: The Administration is now working on its budget request for FY 2007. In a July 8 memo to heads of executive agencies, OSTP Director John Marburger and OMB Director Joshua Bolten spelled out the White House's FY07 R&D budget priorities. Highlighted as interagency R&D priorities are: Homeland Security R&D, High-End Computing and Networking R&D, National Nanotechnology Initiative, Priorities in the Physical Sciences, Understanding Complex Biological Systems, and Energy and the Environment.

HOUSE AND SENATE ACTIONS ON CLIMATE CHANGE: In June, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Joe Barton (R-TX) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Ed Whitfield (R- KY) sent letters to several climate researchers, questioning their work and requesting answers to a number of questions about data, funding sources, and other issues. The letter prompted a protest from Science Committee Chair Boehlert, who called Barton's actions "misguided" and a "truly chilling" precedent. In an indication of a growing consensus on climate change, the Senate approved a sense-of-the-Senate amendment by Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) acknowledging that human activity is a factor in climate change and that mandatory steps may be necessary to slow or halt the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.