Congressional floor and conference action

20 Apr 2018

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.

22 Dec 2017

Congress concluded its 2017 session with a week of productive legislating that included final passage of the Republican tax reform bill and an extension of federal spending through Jan. 19. The House also passed three bipartisan STEM education bills and a disaster relief spending package that, if enacted, would provide a one-time funding boost to several science agencies.

22 Nov 2017

A chorus of scientific societies and higher education associations has voiced deep concerns about provisions in the House’s tax reform bill that they argue could significantly increase the cost of graduate education. Higher education associations have also objected to several other provisions in the House bill and its Senate counterpart that they say could destabilize the finances of colleges and universities.

22 Sep 2017

The Senate passed its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act on Sept. 18, sending the bill to conference committee. House and Senate conferees now must come to an agreement on a vast library of provisions, including many concerning R&D policy.

11 Sep 2017

After President Trump backed a Democratic proposal for a three-month extension of federal agency spending and the debt ceiling, Republican leaders quickly acceded. The law includes a key provision prohibiting the National Institutes of Health from altering research overhead reimbursements.

5 May 2017

The final appropriations agreement for fiscal year 2017 provides a 3.1 percent increase for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Planetary Science will receive a 12 percent increase and is instructed to proceed with a Europa lander mission. Heliophysics will receive a smaller increase while Earth Science funding will remain unchanged. As work on the James Webb Space Telescope ramps down, total funds allocated to Astrophysics activities will decrease.

21 Apr 2017

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has new congressional guidance for its weather research, forecasting, and observations programs, including authorizations for a new seasonal forecasting program, a greater focus on research-to-operations, and improved coordination across the U.S. weather enterprise.

5 Apr 2017

The House has passed two bills to overhaul how the Environmental Protection Agency uses and reviews science. Proponents say the legislation would increase public trust and stakeholder participation in EPA’s decisions, but critics assert the bills would prevent the agency from using the best available science and academic expertise.

9 Mar 2017

Following a failed attempt last year, Congress has passed the bipartisan “NASA Transition Authorization Act.” The bill, which emphasizes human space exploration, affirms existing NASA priorities. However, it leaves ambiguous policy concerning contentious issues such as NASA’s Earth science activities.

7 Mar 2017

Last week, the Senate confirmed Rick Perry as secretary of energy. Supporters point to his capabilities as a manager, while opponents doubt his commitment to protecting the Department of Energy and advancing its mission. Addressing department employees, Perry described his “journey” from having called for DOE’s elimination to being an advocate for its work.

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