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 House Armed Services Committee has approved an amendment to its version of the National Defense Authorization Act that would permit the Defense Department to terminate grants and other awards that provide funds to individuals who have participated in talent recruitment programs operated by China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia.
EPA has issued a proposed rule that would require data and models underlying certain scientific studies to be made publicly available before the agency could use the studies in developing regulations. Among its justifications, the agency is arguing the proposal is consistent with the research community’s recent efforts to address concerns about the irreproducibility of swaths of science.
House Science Committee members and expert witnesses called for more robust space weather research, observations, and forecasting at a hearing last week. They also pushed for better defined roles in government, academia, and industry.
In his new role as the Department of Defense’s top R&D official, Mike Griffin is arguing that DOD must shed its risk-adverse culture and further embrace prototyping to accelerate innovation. He has also elaborated on his top technology priorities in recent congressional testimony, stressing that DOD must counter other countries’ growing hypersonic weapons capabilities and should focus on transitioning directed energy weapons from R&D to deployment.
The House Science Committee unanimously approved a bipartisan bill that would direct the National Science Foundation to support several new grant programs focused on mentoring, training, and apprenticeships in STEM fields.
By the narrowest margin in the history of the space agency, the Senate confirmed Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) as NASA administrator yesterday on a party-line vote of 50 to 49. The other chamber of Congress also made NASA news this week, with the House Science Committee advancing a NASA reauthorization bill after a contentious debate over funding recommendations for its Earth Science Division.
At an April 11 hearing, House Science Committee leaders expressed deep concern about the scope of foreign espionage campaigns targeted at U.S. academic institutions and sought advice on how to implement countermeasures while maintaining an open research enterprise.
At a House Science Committee hearing dedicated to the national laboratories, committee members probed the role the labs play in developing and commercializing technologies. Members also announced two bills directing DOE to conduct demonstration projects in nuclear energy and energy storage, respectively.
The president’s budget request for fiscal year 2019 would cut the Department of Energy’s applied energy programs significantly, including a 67 percent cut to the $2 billion Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Other offices would receive lesser but still dramatic decreases in funding.
A chorus of concern has emerged in Congress about China’s allegedly pervasive exploitation of the U.S.’s intellectual property and open research environment, with some lawmakers seeking to overhaul foreign investment and export control systems. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is preparing a package of unilateral retaliation measures that reportedly could include visa restrictions on Chinese students and academics.