Capitol Hill

U.S. Military's Rapid Reduction In R&D Is Causing A High Level Of Concern

The amount of money being spent each year by the federal government on defense research and development has declined to levels so low that they "are frightening," says Wes Bush, Chairman, CEO and President of Northrop Grumman. In the 1960s, the U.S. devoted about 1 percent of its GDP to defense-related R&D. That figure dropped to 0.7 percent of GDP in the 1980s and to 0.5 percent in the 2000s. "By the end of this decade, we expect it to drop to one-third of 1 percent of GDP," says Bush.

NSTA Legislative Update—ESEA (No Child Left Behind) Reauthorization Bill Scheduled for Senate Action July 7

As reported in the April 17 NSTA Legislative Update, thanks to the leadership of Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Patty Murray (D-WA), an amendment to include a dedicated STEM K-12 program in the Every Child Achieves Act was adopted (by a vote of 12-10) when the bill was considered by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. This will ensure that states would continue to receive dedicated support for STEM activities from the U.S. Department of Education.

Senate panel approves $2 billion raise for NIH in 2016

At last, biomedical researchers may be getting some relief. A Senate panel today approved a bill that would bestow a generous $2 billion increase on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2016, or what appears to be a 6% raise, to $32 billion. Although a House of Representatives panel last week approved a lower figure, it seems the agency may be on track to its first significant increase in more than a decade.

NIH Funding to Increase $1.1 B – But Popular Agency is Eliminated

The bill would mean $300 million more for Alzheimer’s research, and an additional $100 million for an initiative to combat antibiotic resistance. But it would also eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or AHRQ, and its $465 million allocated for this year. And it would include specific provisions to defund “Obamacare,” according to a statement released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Beatty Introduces Legislation to Promote STEM Education among Girls and Underrepresented Minorities

If enacted, H.R. 2773 would provide funding for local school districts to create the necessary infrastructure for enhanced STEM learning early in a student’s academic career. These increased resources would be used to improve professional development for teachers, strengthen outreach to parents, provide mentoring and tutoring programs, expand access to afterschool and summer programs that provide additional enrichment opportunities in STEM, and promote academic advice and assistance in high school course selection that encourages girls and underrepresented minorities to take advanced STEM classes and become STEM professionals.

Senate passes $612B defense policy bill despite veto threat

The Senate passed an annual $612 billion defense policy bill Thursday, including extra war funding for the Pentagon that brought a veto threat from the White House. Senators voted 71-25 on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which lays out broad policy requirements for the Defense Department.

Why we need a robust national standard for data breach notification

The lack of a uniform federal standard for data breach notification also has created an unnecessarily complex situation for companies, which must now spend more time navigating this murky legal terrain than actually protecting consumer data. Congress should act swiftly to pass a strong federal data breach law that preempts all the conflicting state laws.

Industry group urges Congress to support expanded drone use

A key drone industry group called on Congress to support expanded use of the controversial technology during testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Wednesday. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) noted that the Federal Aviation Administration is working on finalizing rules for commercial and public drone use and is also granting permission for limited commercial use on a case-by-case basis.

Net neutrality rules go into effect

The new federal rules for net neutrality were allowed to take effect on Friday, Jun. 12th, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a motion to stay the regulation. The regulations reclassify Internet service providers as utility companies, giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more power to regulate them. That includes stopping providers from selectively slowing the speed of online data.

House panel approves 'patent troll' legislation

Legislation to crack down on so-called patent trolls cleared another hurdle in Congress on Thursday. The House Judiciary Committee on a 24-8 vote approved its Innovation Act, which aims to curb the abuse of patent infringement litigation. The committee waded through a marathon of more than 20 amendments, including a manager's amendment from Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

House passes 2016 defense spending bill

The House on Thursday approved this year's spending bill for the Pentagon in a 278-149 vote. Republicans added $38 billion to the war fund to give the Pentagon spending above the budget caps created by the sequester, but they left the limits in place for nondefense spending. Democrats and the White House want the sequester lifted in full.

Innovation Act set for markup by House committee

One of the more aggressive pieces of patent reform legislation, the Innovation Act, is scheduled for markup Thursday. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee had planned to mark up H.R. 9 at a meeting last month; however, Chairman Bob Goodlatte — also the legislation’s lead sponsor — decided to hold off after some concerns were raised about the bill.

Senate panel approves $576B Pentagon spending bill

Senate appropriators on Tuesday advanced legislation that would allow for nearly $576 billion in Defense Department spending in fiscal 2016. The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee unanimously approved a bill that recommends $489.1 billion in base Pentagon spending and $86.8 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, also known as the war fund.

House Passes FY 2016 Funding Bill for NASA, NIST, NOAA and NSF

Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) thanked Culberson and his staff for working with the Science Committee staff, and “for prioritizing the funding of basic research” at NSF. “This research, especially in the areas of math and physical sciences, biology, computing and engineering, holds the promise of breakthroughs that will trigger technological innovation, jumpstart new industries and spur economic growth,” Smith said.  Appreciation was also expressed by Smith for the reprioritization of NASA’s Planetary Science program that reflected Smith’s authorization bill for the space agency.

NASA’s Rocket program Receives Funding from US House of Representatives

US Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, on Wednesday made an announcement about the increase of $150 million in funding over 2015 for the rocket. The increase in funding came after the house gave approval for the spending bill known as the commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2016.

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