Capitol Hill

Science Is an Engine of Human Prosperity

Science is the engine of human prosperity. Economists have said that a third to a half of U.S. economic growth has resulted from basic research since World War II. The cars and trains that got us to this building, the smart phones we are all carrying, the energy we are using to run the lights in this chamber, the clothes we are wearing, the food we eat: All of these things were developed through the process that we call science.

Innovation Is a Process That Itself Requires Investment

Congress wants to enhance the benefits of scientific research for the U.S. economy and other purposes and to keep the nation at the forefront of global competition for new technologies and other innovations.

Chamber backs Senate cyber bill

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pressuring the Senate to take up and “expeditiously” pass a Senate cybersecurity bill that would encourage companies to share information about cyber threats with each other and the federal government.

Senate Appropriators Press For Basic Research Hike

The Defense Appropriations bill approved by the committee Thursday calls for a basic research tab of nearly $2.3 billion, 5 percent above the currently enacted level. In its report, the panel said it was "discouraged" by the Pentagon's proposed cuts in basic, which it called "the foundation upon which other technology is developed." It noted that "basic research . . .spans across universities and colleges, small businesses and laboratories, growing future scientists and creating new business opportunities."

The House-passed appropriation (see report) provided about $300 million less for basic research. If the Senate bill passes the full chamber, something that may not happen until a lame-duck session, the final number would be worked out in a conference. History suggests the two chambers would then split the difference.

Source: ASEE

House Passes Research and Development Bills

On July 14th, the House of Representatives passed three bi-partisan bills relevant to the scientific community.  A fourth, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Policy Reauthorization Act was pulled from consideration but is expected to be voted on shortly by the House.

Senators vow to reassert America's rocket power

“If you consider space a national security priority, then you absolutely have to consider assured access to space a national security priority,” Gen. William Shelton, commander of the Air Force’s space command, testified in a joint Senate committee hearing on Wednesday.

Latta, Issa, Eshoo, Matsui Introduce Bipartisan Wi-Fi Innovation Act

“Demand for wireless spectrum is growing rapidly as smartphone and tablet users increasingly use Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet,” said Latta. “To accommodate this demand and support future mobile development and innovation, we must utilize spectrum more efficiently. The Wi-Fi Innovation Act paves a pathway to maximize the use of spectrum and examine ways to expand the deployment of wireless networks and services across the country, so all can benefit from this next-generation technology.”

House patent reformers push Senate leadership for action

That bill, which faced some opposition but was largely supported by the tech industry, included changes to the patent litigation system to increase transparency around which companies were bringing and threatening lawsuits and to create disincentives for companies that bring meritless lawsuits in the hopes of getting a settlement.

Legislation Aims to Modernize National Labs

U.S. representatives from both parties have introduced the Department of Energy (DOE) Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2014, a companion bill to the Senate’s America INNOVATES Act (S. 1973).

US too dependent on Russian rocket engines, experts tell lawmakers

Should the Russian government yank its supply of rocket engines for United States launches, critical national-security satellite missions could be delayed up to four years, experts told a joint Senate hearing Wednesday.

US House approves permanent ban on Internet access taxes

The House, in a voice vote Tuesday, passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, over the objections of some Democrats. In addition to permanently banning states and local governments from taxing Internet access, the bill would ban any other form of Internet-only taxes, although its aimed primarily at taxes on Internet access service. The bill does not address Internet sales taxes, a separate issue that Congress has debated for several years.

IEEE-USA Commends House of Representatives for Including Computer Science in Passing STEM Education Act

Source: IEEE
 
WASHINGTON (14 July 2014) -- IEEE-USA commends the House of Representatives for including computer science in the STEM Education Act of 2014 (H.R. 5031) it passed by voice vote today.
 
“IEEE-USA strongly supports federal, state and local efforts to improve K-12 science, technology, engineering and math education, particularly programs that increase student interest and engagement in engineering and computer science,” IEEE-USA President Gary Blank said. “A quality STEM education is critical to American innovation and creativity.”
 
Highlights of the STEM Education Act of 2014 include:
 
  • Broadening the definition of STEM education at NASA, NSF, NOAA, NIST, the EPA and the Department of Energy to include formal academic instruction in computer science and other subjects that build on more conventional STEM disciplines
  • Authorizing NSF support for informal out-of-school learning activities to enhance and improve STEM education
  • Making classroom teachers with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields who are pursuing master’s degrees eligible for NSF-administered Master Teaching Fellowships in exchange for a four-year commitment to teach in high-need school districts
 
The bill was sponsored by House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and fellow House members Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-Indiana), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Dr. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Christopher Collins (R-N.Y.) and Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) 
 
“IEEE-USA is pleased with the bipartisan support the bill received and is hopeful that cooperation continues in the Senate,” Blank said.
 
For more on the STEM Education Act of 2014, see https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/5031.

STEM Bill Championed By Esty Clears the House

A bill co-authored by Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-5th district) which would increase federal support to teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, passed the House of Representatives on Monday.

FCC approves spending billions to put Wi-Fi in schools and libraries

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday approved a plan to spend $1 billion per year to provide Wi-Fi service in schools and libraries.

Wyden: Aereo ruling will ‘discourage innovation’

“I want to be clear, I'm not saying that there should be no government, no oversight, no regulation,” he said. “What I want to make sure of is that various kind of government policies intended for 20th century services don't stifle 21st century innovation.”

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