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Tom Price Confirmed as Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), an orthopedic surgeon and a six-term member of the House of Representatives, was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) by a party-line vote of 52 to 47 in the late hours of February 10. Price, who most recently served as chair of the House Budget Committee, is fiscally conservative and is considered a stern foe of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and abortion rights. However, he has been mostly supportive of increasing funding for federal research agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, which is one of the agencies under HHS’ jurisdiction. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) has been named interim chair of the House Budget Committee.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 21), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Confirmation Hearings Continue for Trump Cabinet Nominees

The first three weeks of the 115th Congress has been busy as the Senate begins the process of confirming President Trump’s cabinet nominees. Hearings this week included South Carolina Congressman and nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney and Georgia Congressman and nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (which includes the National Institutes of Health), Tom Price. The committee vote on Betsy DeVos, billionaire philanthropist and nominee for Secretary of Education has been delayed as Senators continue their vetting process.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 24), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NIH Director to Stay with Trump Administration—For Now

On January 19, the last day of the Obama Administration, Science and other media outlets reported that National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins will continue as the agency’s director for the foreseeable future. As previously reported, in December, the Republican leadership of the committees with jurisdiction over the NIH sent a letter to the Trump transition team endorsing his retention as the NIH’s director. Had he not been asked to stay, Collins’ resignation would have automatically taken effect on January 20. It remains unclear, however, if Collins is among the 50 Obama Administration officials reportedly asked to continue in their positions as part of the Trump Administration for the time being.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 24), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Nancy Rodriguez Leaves National Institute of Justice

After serving as Director of the National Institute of Justice since February 2015, Dr. Nancy Rodriguez announced her departure from the agency on January 13. In her farewell message, Director Rodriguez highlighted a path forward for the agency’s research objectives and called for continued multidisciplinary collaboration. The National Institute of Justice is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. Former Deputy Director Howard Spivak will serve as the Acting Director until a presidential appointment has been made.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 24), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Issues Recommendations to the Incoming Trump Administration

transition-doc-coverBefore the holiday break, COSSA transmitted a report to the Trump transition team, Social and Behavioral Science Research: Ten Recommendations for the 45th President of the United States. The report outlines a number of steps the next Administration can take to support the U.S. research enterprise and use social science research in support of evidence-based policy making. This document can also be helpful in outreach to policy makers in Congress as well. The document is available on the COSSA website at http://www.cossa.org/press-publications/2017-transition-recommendations/.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 10), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Congressman Mick Mulvaney Nominated for OMB Director

On December 16, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to serve as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Trump Administration. Mulvaney made a name for himself during his three terms in the House as an outspoken opponent of government spending.

OMB serves as the implementation and enforcement arm of Presidential policy through budget development, oversight of agency performance, legislative coordination, and oversight of executive orders. If confirmed by the Senate, Mulvaney will have broad responsibilities implementing President-elect Trump’s agenda, including a central role in health care and tax policy changes, as well as the repeal of government regulations.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 10), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Joins Scientific Community in Calling for President-Elect to Name a Science Advisor

In a letter to the presidential transition team, COSSA Executive Director Wendy Naus joined the leadership of 28 other leading science organization in calling for President-Elect Trump to quickly appoint a qualified Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. They urge the President-Elect to name a candidate who is “a nationally respected leader with appropriate engineering, scientific, management and policy skills.” The letter notes, “If we are to maintain America’s global leadership, and respond to the economic and security challenges currently facing the nation, we must build on our strong history of federal support for innovation, entrepreneurship and science and technology.” The full letter is available here.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

GOP Chairmen Send Letter of Support for NIH Director; Maryland Lawmaker Expresses Interest in Leading Agency

On December 2, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairmen Tom Cole (R-OK) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) sent a letter to President-elect Trump’s transition team, urging the new administration to retain National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins. The chairmen state that Collins is the “right person, at the right time” to lead the NIH. They further emphasized that “under his leadership with Congress’ commitment to biomedical research as a national priority, the National Institutes of Health will thrive and continue to enhance the Nation’s health through scientific discovery and biomedical research.” Science magazine is also reporting that Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) is interested in the position. Harris currently sits on the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the NIH’s budget. Harris, an anesthesiologist, has acknowledged that the scientific community may consider him a somewhat controversial choice to lead the agency.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

President-Elect Trump Begins Transition; Many Questions Remain for Science

Following a surprising victory on Nov. 8, businessman Donald Trump’s campaign will now focus on transitioning to the White House. More details have emerged about Trump’s goals for his presidency through a transition website, goals for his first 100 days in office, and a job posting for administration appointees.  Notably, President-elect Trump’s plan for his first 100 days includes a hiring freeze on federal employees and “a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.” Many uncertainties remain, including key administration appointments and more detailed policy proposals for the administration.

Before the election, President-elect Trump had not published any specific policy recommendations related to science, but included in his answer to the Scientific American questionnaire that scientific advances, including a viable space program, require long-term investment and stakeholder input. Other public statements, including about the National Institutes Health, have been less flattering. COSSA’s preliminary analysis of the Presidential candidates’ science and technology platforms can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 15), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

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