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.
House and Senate spending proposals for fiscal year 2022 have put energy R&D and technology demonstration programs in line for major budget increases, while the bipartisan infrastructure package that the Senate passed earlier this month could provide billions of additional dollars in funding.
The House and Senate both propose to increase funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science in fiscal year 2022. While the proposed funding levels are similar to the amount requested by the administration, they fall well short of those recommended in recent House-passed legislation and could result in slower progress on certain projects.
Physical chemist Geri Richmond and soil scientist Asmeret Asefaw Berhe appeared before a Senate committee this week for a hearing on their nominations to assume the top two science jobs in the Department of Energy. Both nominees appear likely to secure Senate confirmation, despite the top committee Republican questioning Berhe’s qualifications.
With telecommunications applications increasingly occupying radio spectrum bands close to those used for critical satellite-based weather monitoring and research, the House Science Committee is examining why federal agencies have had difficulty reconciling their spectrum-related interests.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin (D-WV) has proposed special infrastructure spending legislation that would provide billions of dollars in funding for R&D, demonstration projects, and other initiatives to promote emerging energy technologies.
The Senate passed a landmark competitiveness policy package this week containing the Endless Frontier Act proposal for a multi-billion-dollar technology R&D initiative. Key members of the House are now crafting a compromise proposal they regard as better-suited to existing agency strengths.
The Biden administration is proposing to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health by about 20%, or $9 billion, for fiscal year 2022, largely to support a new $6.5 billion Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.
The Senate has confirmed Eric Lander as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Lander is the 11th person to hold the job since Congress created it in 1976 and the first biologist.
The House Science Committee has introduced a bipartisan bill that recommends Congress ramp up funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science from $7 billion to nearly $11 billion over the next five years. It also updates policy guidance for the office’s research programs and sets funding targets for its major facility projects.
In support of her nomination to be under secretary of defense for research and engineering, Heidi Shyu answered questions this week from the Senate Armed Services Committee about matters such as defense innovation priorities and research security.