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.