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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.


18 Sep 2018

Congress sent two bills to the president last week that provide policy direction to the Department of Energy Office of Science and Office of Nuclear Energy, respectively. The House also passed legislation to establish a National Quantum Initiative, which now awaits action in the Senate.

23 Aug 2018

University of Oklahoma meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier received broad, bipartisan praise from senators at a hearing on his nomination to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Droegemeier repeatedly stressed that science must be free from political influence and outlined his views on growing global R&D competition, particularly from China.

22 Aug 2018

At a recent hearing, senators and witnesses discussed NASA’s search for extraterrestrial life, weighing its benefits alongside science that has more direct societal applications. Witnesses also discussed ideas for improving the decadal surveys that guide NASA science.

17 Aug 2018

The latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act contains numerous provisions that aim to enhance innovation in defense technologies and combat foreign efforts to exploit U.S. R&D. It postpones a proposal to reform the relationship between the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy.

9 Aug 2018

The midterm review of the National Academies planetary science decadal survey finds NASA has made strong progress in implementing the survey’s recommendations, including flagship missions to Mars and Europa. However, it warns Congress’ push for missions relevant to the search for extraterrestrial life beyond missions already recommended risks undermining the survey process.

3 Aug 2018

At a July hearing, the House Science Committee discussed promising applications of machine learning techniques to scientific research and the Department of Energy’s role in supporting advanced computing infrastructure.

2 Aug 2018

The House Science Committee held a two-day hearing last week to investigate the recent delays that will cause NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to breach its statutory cap on development costs. The hearing explored ways of increasing contractor accountability and the implications JWST’s troubles will have for NASA’s other science missions.

19 Jul 2018

The House and Senate have both advanced proposals to increase funding for R&D activities in the Department of Defense, placing a strong emphasis on technology development and prototyping. The Senate is proposing an especially large increase, including a half-billion-dollar or 19 percent increase for basic research.

5 Jul 2018

Last week, the House Science Committee advanced bipartisan legislation that would launch a 10-year National Quantum Initiative to increase coordination and funding of quantum R&D supported by the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and National Institute of Standards and Technology. Meanwhile, in the Senate, leaders of the Commerce Committee have introduced a companion bill, and the Armed Services Committee is seeking to establish a separate quantum R&D program for the defense agencies.

3 Jul 2018

As the conference committee for this year’s iteration of the National Defense Authorization Act begins its work, conferees will navigate numerous proposals for changes in defense R&D and innovation policy.