Capitol Hill

Ranking Member Johnson Introduces Democratic America Competes Reauthorization

Ranking Member Johnson said, “The provisions in the Democratic alternative to the America Competes Reauthorization have been widely supported by the scientific community. This bill seeks to ensure that Congress provides the thoughtful guidance and necessary funding to key federal research programs to maintain continued American leadership in science and innovation.

Smith and Thune: Maximize Valuable Federal Research

“We share the goal of reauthorizing the agencies under the America COMPETES Act this year. It was first signed into law by President Bush in 2007. The conversation about reauthorization of federal science and technology R&D agencies must include an honest assessment of how scarce federal dollars can have the greatest impact. As chairmen of the House and Senate committees charged with keeping federal research relevant and impactful, we look forward to working with our colleagues to maximize valuable research which, without federal support, might not happen.

GOP chairwoman to sponsor bill to lift oil export ban

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she will introduce a bill this year to end the 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil. Murkowski, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told energy executives Monday that the ban is severely holding U.S. producers back, Reuters reported.

Innovation Act makes patents harder to enforce, easier to infringe

A wide and diverse group of stakeholders from throughout the U.S. economy – including the university, individual inventor, biotech, pharmaceutical, venture capital, medical device, and startup communities – have repeatedly articulated specific concerns with H.R. 9 and offered changes to address those concerns while still targeting abusive behavior in patent litigation. These efforts have not led to the significant changes necessary to keep H.R. 9 from harming the U.S. economy.

Next Stop For ESEA Reauthorization: Senate Floor - Elementary and Secondary Education Act

After three days of marking up its ESEA reauthorization bill, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously passed the measure last Thursday afternoon. While nearly 60 amendments were considered, many of the most controversial amendments were withdrawn – though they will reappear during floor debate and consideration – and the committee worked in a bipartisan fashion to amend the bill. Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is pushing leadership to schedule floor time for the measure before the Memorial Day recess.

Ranking Member Johnson’s Statement on the Majority’s COMPETES Legislation

“There are many, many problems with this bill – far too many to enumerate here. To give an indication of some of the most egregious issues, the bill: Keeps overall R&D funding in the bill flat – simply adds funding to accounts the Majority favors at the expense of those it doesn’t. Fails to fully fund the agency’s operations account, putting into severe jeopardy the cost and schedule of NSF’s new headquarters being built in Alexandria, Virginia as well as NSF’s ability to fill urgently needed positions and to upgrade its IT systems to improve agency accountability and efficiency. Includes a misguided and potentially dangerous attempt to impose a level of political review on NSF’s gold-standard merit-review system...

Smith Introduces Bill to Advance U.S. Scientific Leadership

The bill reestablishes the federal government’s primary scientific role to fund basic research. It increases funding for the science agencies that conduct fundamental discovery science by five percent.  But the bill is also fiscally responsible, offsetting those increases with cuts to programs that focus on later-stage technology development and commercialization activities that are more effectively pursued by the private sector.

Over 90 Organizations Sign Letter in Support of STEM Education as an ESEA Priority

The STEM Coalition and over 90 other organizations from across the country have signed a letter to Senate HELP Committee leaders urging support for STEM education as an ESEA priority.  The letter is signed by a diverse array of more than 90 local, state, and national organizations that includes teacher and education groups, and professional and civic societies, and major corporations.

Research advocates watch, warily, as Congress tries to finish its budget outline

In general, science boosters loathe the spending blueprints approved last month by the House and Senate. That’s because they would, if implemented, squeeze federal funding for civilian research over the long term. But they are also hoping any final plan—if lawmakers can agree on one—will retain some language they like, including provisions that promote a funding boost for biomedical research and call on officials to respond to the threat of climate change.

U.S. universities and electronics companies spar over 'patent troll' bill

New sparks are flying in a timeworn debate over how to crack down on bogus patent lawsuits. Efforts to deter so-called patent trolls—firms that base their business on amassing patents and then suing other firms for infringement—have often put universities at odds with the technology industry. This week, a group of electronics companies sent a letter to more than 120 universities asking them to rethink their opposition to recently proposed legislation aimed at disarming patent trolls—a move that may polarize the issue further.

Eric Cantor Wants The GOP To Fund Science Research. He Doesn't Think They Have To Offset It

"The president has consistently said, and the Democrats' position remains, that if there is going to be an increase in defense spending there must be a commensurate increase in domestic spending," Cantor said in an interview with The Huffington Post. "My position would be, let's go ahead and commit to long-term creation of value, let's go in and put all the incremental dollars on the domestic side into scientific and medical research."

White House unveils $478B highway bill

The Obama administration is sending a six year, $478 billion highway bill to Congress with lawmakers struggling to beat a May 31 deadline to renew federal infrastructure spending. The measure is an update of the Grow America Act, a transportation bill the Obama administration previously sent to Congress. Lawmakers, though, largely ignored that proposal, instead opting for a temporary extension of highway spending that is set to expire in the spring.

America’s innovation ecosystem may get bipartisan budget boost

Many pundits give President Obama’s budget proposal little chance of passing in the Republican-controlled Congress. In fact, the House and Senate budget blueprints have set the stage for a likely veto struggle. Dysfunctional, hyper-partisanship may continue to rule Washington, but at least one very important part of the budget is cause for hope: federal investments in science and technology innovation. There are encouraging signs that America’s innovation ecosystem will get a bipartisan boost this year.

The Innovation Act of 2015: Congress Targets Patent ‘Trolls’ Again

These reforms are aimed ostensibly at protecting emerging and innovative market enterprises. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), another of the bill’s supporters, explained that “increasingly, Americans find innovation obstructed, with attempts to enter the marketplace frequently shut down by well-funded patent trolls who exploit loopholes in the patent system.”[2] But if this is really the Act’s intent, something may have gone awry. The companies lining up in support of the Innovation Act include Apple, Google, and Broadcom – not exactly average garage start-ups. Meanwhile, those who should be cheering legislation aimed at making it easier for start-ups to enter the marketplace are urging caution.

Online educational legislation could strand students

Laws protecting students must also seek to strike the same balance between safety and growth – between isolation and discovery.  Unfortunately, the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act (SDPPRA) of 2015 misses this balance.  Through overly proscriptive language, SDPPRA retreads existing law while shackling educational innovation.

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