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Congress

FYI covers House and Senate activity related to the physical sciences, including their oversight of the federal science agencies as well as the development and consideration of legislation that sets policy for science and funds the science agencies.

 

The new CHIPS and Science Act includes a variety of provisions aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the STEM workforce through grant support and workforce research, and by instituting new requirements for data collection and ethical research conduct.

Congress is on the cusp of approving historic legislation that would provide more than $50 billion to the semiconductor sector and lay out ambitious expansion plans for a set of federal science agencies.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought new urgency to the Department of Energy’s efforts to expand U.S. production capacity for critical isotopes, some of which are solely sourced from Russia or rely on precursor materials from the country.

At a House Science Committee hearing last week, Electron-Ion Collider Project Director Jim Yeck reported that without a higher budget he anticipates personnel crucial to the project will need to be laid off. Meanwhile, Fermilab Director Lia Merminga said that the flagship neutrino project LBNF/DUNE is progressing smoothly following a period of cost growth and schedule delays.

Democratic leaders are narrowing their ambitions for Congress’ bipartisan innovation policy bill in a push to finish it in July, but many questions remain about what the final product will look like.

The funding increase that Congress provided to Defense Department R&D programs in fiscal year 2022 outpaced those of most nondefense science agencies. The Biden administration is seeking significant budget increases for some priorities in fiscal year 2023, but its proposals still leave early-stage R&D facing significant cuts.

The House Science Committee is pressing the Biden administration to seek significantly higher budgets for the Department of Energy Office of Science, arguing in particular that funding levels requested for science facility construction projects would cause them to fall behind schedule and incur additional costs.

David Applegate, a longtime U.S. Geological Survey official who has been nominated to lead the agency, discussed critical mineral supply chains and carbon sequestration with senators at his nomination hearing last month.

Congress followed the Biden administration's lead in delivering a moderate budget increase to the Department of Energy's Office of Science in the current fiscal year, but some lawmakers believe the office needs much more money than is being asked for to advance facilities projects and core research programs.

Mechanical engineer Evelyn Wang is on track to be confirmed as director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, having received bipartisan praise from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.