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Senate Science Subcommittee Holds Hearing on “Research and Innovation: Ensuring America’s Economic and Strategic Leadership”

On October 22, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather held a hearing titled “Research and Innovation: Ensuring America’s Economic and Strategic Leadership” to discuss the significance that research and innovation have in ensuring U.S. leadership in the global economy.  The witnesses were Dr. Rebecca Blank, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, Executive Vice President of Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise; Dr. David Shaw, Provost and Executive Vice President of Mississippi State University; and Dr. Diane Souvaine, Chair of the National Science Board.

Subcommittee Chair Cory Gardner (R-CO) stressed the need for bipartisan support to reaffirm the commitment to fund the research economy and keep the United States competitive. Ranking Member Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) argued that the federal government plays a critical role in the research ecosystem and that sustained investment in research has paid enormous dividends, so the United States must continue to make these investments.  She stressed the need for increased National Science Foundation (NSF) funding, to produce a larger science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce, to do more to translate research findings into commercial success, and to strengthen research investments.

The hearing largely emphasized the importance of research in the economy of the United States and the lives of its people.  Many of the witnesses emphasized transdisciplinary research, involving all the fields of science.  Members asked questions about expanding access to science and research resources geographically, to minorities and women, and to younger scientists, as well as about the possible economic benefits of scientific expansion and what types of research investment is needed.

A recording of the hearing is available on the Commerce Committee website.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s fall intern, Kira Nash, of Boston University.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 29), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Senate Continues to Debate Spending Bills as CR End Looms

The federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR), a stopgap measure that has frozen funding for federal agencies at FY 2019 levels, which is set to expire on November 21. While the House had passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills through the chamber before the summer recess, the Senate is beginning to make progress as well. It too has passed 10 of the 12 bills out of committee and is currently debating a package of four bills on the Senate floor. While the Senate is certainly making up for lost time, there have been reports that Congressional leaders are considering passing an additional CR that would last until the spring of 2020. Nonetheless, COSSA and its partners continue to advocate for strong numbers for federal science programs in any final spending agreement. See COSSA’s analysis of the FY 2020 spending proposals here, and the coalition letters COSSA has joined here.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 29), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Nita Lowey, House Appropriations Chair, Announces Retirement

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced on October 10 that she will not seek reelection next year after 31 years in Congress. Rep. Lowey became the first woman to Chair the House Appropriations Committee when the Democrats took control of the House in 2019.

Her retirement will lead to a reshuffling among senior Democratic appropriators. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who currently chairs the Energy and Water Subcommittee, is the most senior Democrat on the committee after Lowey, has said that she would be interested in chairing the Committee, but Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), current chair of the powerful Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee, also indicated her intention to run for the role. In addition, there will be a key vacancy on the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee (which funds the National Science Foundation and the Census Bureau) as longtime senior Democrat Rep. Jose Serrano has also announced his upcoming retirement.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 15), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

President Signs Continuing Resolution Keeping Government Open Until Thanksgiving

On Friday September 27, just three days before the end of fiscal year (FY) 2019, the President signed into law a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open until November 21. This stopgap measure will continue funding the government at FY 2019 levels and was approved by the House on September 19 and the Senate on September 26. This CR will allow the Senate to finish its work on spending bills and reconcile differences with the spending proposals from the House. At the time of this writing, the House has passed 10 of the 12 appropriations and the Senate has yet to approve any bills on the Senate floor but has advanced many through committee (see related article).

Keep an eye on COSSA’s FY 2020 reporting for updates.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 1), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Senate Makes Progress on FY 2020 Appropriations for NSF, Census, NIH, Education, USDA

With the passage of a continuing resolution through Thanksgiving giving Congress some breathing room to complete fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations, the Senate Appropriations Committee has finally made progress in approving a number of its annual appropriations bills. COSSA has released analyses of three Senate bills that fund agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences:

Full coverage of FY 2020 appropriations, including analyses of the corresponding House proposals, is available on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 1), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Responding to Extreme Weather Events, Highlights Social & Behavioral Science Solutions

On September 26, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (SST) held a hearing on understanding, forecasting, and communicating about extreme weather and other events related to climate change. Witnesses included J. Marshall Shepard, Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program in the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia; James Done, Project Scientist and Willis Research Fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research; Adam Sobel, Professor of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Director and Chief Scientist of the Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate at Columbia University; Berrien Moore, Director of the National Weather Center at the University of Oklahoma; and Ann Bostrom, Weyerhaeuser Endowed Professor in Environmental Policy at the University of Washington.

Members of both parties expressed their concern with changing patterns of extreme weather and questioned witnesses on prevailing weather research and opportunities to improve responsiveness to severe weather events. Much discussion revolved around the role of social and behavioral science research, with Members Randy Weber (R-TX) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) questioning Dr. Bostrom on how to incorporate social and behavioral science research in extreme weather responses and if there were any current gaps or barriers in that research. Other topics discussed during the hearing were the Mesonet environmental monitoring network in Oklahoma, weather infrastructure needs of the Southeastern United States, and potential improvements in government responses to extreme weather events. An opening statement from Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and a recording of the hearing can be found on the SST Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 1), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Senate Appropriations Efforts Slow to Start as End of Fiscal Year Looms

Both chambers of Congress returned to Washington following the annual August recess and, as COSSA has reported, they only have a few weeks to make progress on fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills before FY 2019 ends on September 30. At the time of this writing, the full House of Representatives has passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills and the Senate has passed two bills out of the full Appropriations Committee.

While the Senate has jumped into appropriations upon returning from recess, with two bills approved in committee and consideration of 3 bills scheduled, there remains only about a handful of legislative days in the fiscal year. The Senate Appropriations Committee had scheduled a mark-up for the Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill, which includes funding for the National Institutes of Health and Department of Education, among other programs, but after a disagreement on whether controversial amendments should be considered, the mark-up was postponed indefinitely. No further details have been released on when the bill will be considered.

Congress could face yet another government shutdown unless bills or a continuing resolution (CR) are passed by both chambers and signed by the President before the end of the month. Leadership in both chambers have publicly supported passing a CR to prevent a government shutdown, and the House is expected to vote this week on a measure to keep the government open until Thanksgiving. Senate leadership has not indicted when it plans to vote on stop-gap funding.

COSSA has been reporting on the status of the FY 2020 House appropriations bills over the last several months. Check out our consolidated analysis of the FY 2020 bills for details.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 17), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

House Science Committee to Host Hearing on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work

The Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will host a hearing on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work on September 24. The hearing will feature Dr. Arthur Lupia, Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation; Dr. Erik Brynjolfsson, Professor of Management Science and Director at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy; Ms. Rebekah Kowalski, Vice President of Manufacturing Services at the ManpowerGroup; and Dr. Sue Ellspermann, President of Ivy Tech Community College. Dr. Lupia is expected to discuss the NSF Ten Big Ideas, including Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier. The hearing can be watched live online at 2:00pm on September 24, and will be recorded on the Science Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 17), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

State of Play: FY 2020 Appropriations for Social Science Research

Both chambers of Congress will be back in Washington next week and will have only a few weeks to make progress on the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills before FY 2019 ends on September 30. At the time of this writing, 10 of the 12 appropriations bills have been passed by the full House of Representatives. However, the Senate had deferred its consideration of any spending bills (even in subcommittee) until a compromise was reached to provide reprieve from budget caps set in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

On August 2, President Trump signed a two-year budget agreement that provides federal programs relief from these automatic spending cuts. The deal allows Congress to appropriate increases for defense and non-defense discretionary programs, including for research, healthcare, and the upcoming 2020 Census. However, the House bills, as currently written, total about $15 billion more in nondefense spending than the final budget cap negotiated for FY 2020, meaning the House will need to revisit some of its bills when they return September 9 and in some cases make adjustments.

The passage of the budget deal clears the way for Congress to pass FY 2020 funding bills when it returns. We expect the Senate to hit the ground running on appropriations bills in early September. However, with no appropriations bills currently introduced in the Senate and the end of the fiscal year looming on September 30, time is the most critical factor; Congress could face yet another government shutdown unless bills or a continuing resolution (CR) are passed by both chambers and signed by the President before the end of the fiscal year. We predict a CR will be passed to allow policymakers additional time to complete work on FY 2020.

COSSA has been reporting on the status of the FY 2020 House appropriations bills over the last several months. Check out our consolidated analysis of the FY 2020 bills for details.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 3), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Sen. Schatz, Rep. Dean Introduce Legislation to Reestablish Science Advisory Board at the Department of Justice

On July 25, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Madeleine Dean (D-PA) introduced S. 2286 and H.R. 3989, the Improving Justice Programs through Science Act. If enacted, the bill would reestablish a Science Advisory Board at the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) within the Department of Justice to better integrate scientific knowledge to inform crime reduction nationwide and provide scientific backing and evidence-based policies in the OJP’s programs and activities, including grants.

The Board was originally chartered by the Obama Administration in 2010 and since then provided OJP with guidance in several proactive criminal justice reform efforts, including: the importance of trauma-informed care, procedural justice and building trust between police and communities, and youth brain development and implications for juvenile justice programs.

On September 3, COSSA released a statement in support of the bill, which can be read in full on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 3), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

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