FYI THIS MONTH: JUNE 2006
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
ORBACH NOMINATION: During Senate approval of Raymond Orbach as DOE's first Under Secretary for Science, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) explained, "we created this position...as part of a broader push to expand DOE's commitment to and expertise in science." Speaking to a DOE advisory committee recently, Orbach discussed the status of ITER and said that for DOE Office of Science programs, this is "a magnificent moment in time for science."

DEEMED EXPORT CONTROLS: After a public comment period generated many expressions of concern, the Commerce Department has withdrawn proposed changes to deemed export regulations that would affect university basic research, and will establish an advisory committee to review the issue.

GLOBAL WARMING RESOLUTION: A provision in the House's FY07 Interior Appropriations bill, calling for a national program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, was deleted on the House floor on procedural grounds. The floor debate drew some heated comments, with one member saying, "I knew we still had charter members of the Flat Earth Society walking around this country. I didn't realize there were quite so many in the United States Congress."

COMPETITIVENESS BILLS: After making several changes to attract Democratic support, the House Science Committee unanimously passed a pair of competitiveness bills on June 7. In a speech the next day, Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R- NY) declared that the outlook for research funding and competitiveness legislation "is one that I would not even have dreamed of last year."

HOUSE PROGRESS ON FY07 APPROPRIATIONS: The House has now passed almost all of its FY07 spending bills. Under the House bills, funding would increase for NIST's in-house labs, but be reduced for its Manufacturing Extension Partnerships, and zeroed out for the Advanced Technology Program. DOD science and technology would receive a slight overall increase. NASA funding would grow, but less than requested. NSF would receive a 7.9% increase, as President Bush asked for. NSF's education programs would receive an overall increase but its Math and Science Partnership program would be cut. The complementary Math and Science Partnership program within the Department of Education would get an almost 25% increase under the FY07 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, but this controversial bill has not yet been passed by the full House. Also in the stalled Labor-HHS-Education bill, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. would receive a slight funding cut for FY07.

NSF STRATEGIC PLAN: NSF has released, for public comment, a draft Strategic Plan that would provide guidance on agency goals and priorities for the years 2006-2011. Comments must be submitted by July 17.