FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

FYI This Month: November 2011

Richard M. Jones
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Making Progress: Senate Passes FY 2012 NASA, NIST, and NSF Funding Bill

Three of the least-controversial FY 2012 appropriations bills were crafted into a single measure, which the Senate approved without the bitter controversy that characterized the passage of funding bills in previous years. 

“Too Critical to Cut”: Letter Urges Deficit Committee to Avoid R&D Funding Cuts

AIP and five of its Member Societies joined other scientific societies and associations, universities, and organizations in signing a letter urging a special congressional committee that was charged with developing a deficit reduction plan to avoid cutting R&D funding.  

“Snake bit”: House Science Committee Reviews Troubled Weather Satellite Program

NASA’s successful launch of a next generation Earth-observing satellite is a significant milestone in a program to replace America’s aging system of weather satellites.  There are major problems that continue to face this program. 

Science Committee Hearings on NASA’s Human Spaceflight Program Highlight Uncertainties

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a series of hearings about NASA’s  human spaceflight program.  A common theme in all three hearings was varying degrees of skepticism about the new approach the program is taking. 

FY 2012 NASA/NIST/NSF Funding Bill Nearing Completion; Senate Debates Energy Bill

House and Senate appropriators agreed on a final version of a $127.8 billion bill containing funding for many programs, among which were those for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  The Senate started its consideration of the FY 2012 appropriations bill for the Department of Energy.

House Passes FY 2012 NASA/NIST/NSF Funding Bill; Department of Energy Funding Bill Stalled

In general, total funding for all the departments and agencies funded through the three appropriations bills (Agriculture; Commerce-Justice-Science; Transportation-HUD) in H.R. 2112 was higher than that originally proposed in two House bills.  In almost all instances, final funding is significantly less than that requested by the Obama Administration.  Total funding in the Commerce-Justice-Science portion of the bill (in which NASA, NIST, and NSF are funded) is 7 percent less than the Administration requested, and about 1 percent less than current levels.

FY 2012 National Science Foundation Appropriations Bill Signed Into Law

The FY 2012 appropriation provides $7,033.1 million, an increase of $173.2 million or 2.5 percent.  The Administration requested $7,767.0 million.  Funding for Research and Related Activities increased 2.8 percent. 

FY 2012 NASA Appropriations Bill Signed Into Law

The FY 2012 appropriation provides $17,800.0 million, a reduction of $648.0 million or 3.5 percent.  The Administration requested $18,724.3 million.  Space science funding increased 3.1 percent. 

FY 2012 Appropriations Bill for National Institute of Standards and Technology

The FY 2012 appropriation provides $750.8 million, an increase of $0.7 million or 0.1 percent. The Administration requested $1,001.1 million.  Funding for Scientific and Technical Research and Services rose 11.8 percent. 

On the Floor: House and Senate Appropriators on FY 2012 Funding Bill for NASA, NIST, NSF

Among those statements were:  Research is a primary driver of innovation, growth and job creation, and these investments must be preserved, even in times of budgetary austerity.” – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and“So we are out there winning the Nobel Prizes, but our bill lays the groundwork for winning the markets.” – Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)  

Senators Urge Continued Support for DOE Exascale Computing Initiative in FY 2013

Looking ahead to the FY 2013 budget request, twenty-four senators wrote to President Obama, stating, “Given the strong support our global competitors are receiving, it is imperative that the U.S. continue to commit resources to remain competitive in the HPC [High Performance Computing] race to exascale capability.” 

Senate Passes Medical Isotope Production Bill

On November 17 the Senate quickly passed S. 99, The American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2011.  The House approved a similar measure two years ago.  S. 99 requires the Secretary of Energy to “establish a technology-neutral program . . . to evaluate and support projects for the production in the United States, without the use of highly enriched uranium, of significant quantities of molybdenum-99 for medical purposes.” 

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics