Capitol Hill

Keystone XL oil pipeline up first in GOP Senate

Incoming Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the first order of business in the next Congress will be to approve a controversial oil pipeline. "We'll be starting next year with a job-creating bill that enjoys significant bipartisan support," McConnell told reporters, "First item up in the new Senate will be the Keystone XL pipeline."

U.S. Manufacturing Initiative Receives Congressional Approval

The Omnibus bill authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish several Centers for Manufacturing Innovation -- regional hubs operated by public-private partnerships to foster manufacturing innovation, speed product commercialization and close the gap between basic research and product development in the United States.

The future of U.S. innovation might rest on this obscure patent lawsuit

An obscure court case could inject new momentum into  a bill that tackles patent trolls. The case, Versata v. SAP, challenges how broadly the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can interpret a congressional mandate to invalidate "bad" patents, the ones that patent trolls so often use to extort companies for easy settlement money.

Cybersecurity Act Passes Senate

The Cybersecurity Act (S. 1353) would allow for the creation of a set of industrial standards to protect key industrial sectors including energy, telecommunications and finance. The standards would be voluntary, and developed as a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security with private industry leaders to reduce the risk of cyber attacks. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for further review.

US budget deal gives small increases to research

Overall, the bill would increase spending on research and development by 1.7% above the 2014 level — in lockstep with the rate of inflation. But the share of money going to basic research would decline by 0.3% in real dollars, according to Matt Hourihan, director of the research and development budget and policy programme at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC.

2015 spending bill includes $18 billion for NASA

That's $364 million more than the space agency got for the current fiscal year -- which ends on Sept. 30 -- and some $500 million more than it requested. Most of that increase is due to lawmakers increasing funding for the Space Launch System and Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle designed to eventually take astronauts to Mars, a key congressional priority.

New U.S. spending deal a mixed bag for science

NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) appear to be among the winners—relatively speaking—in a spending deal reached Tuesday night by lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, with both agencies receiving modest funding boosts. But research budgets at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Energy would remain flat.

Federal Continuing Resolution Would Keep Regional Innovation, R&D Funding Stable

Earlier this week, congressional appropriators reached a tentative agreement on spending levels for the 2015 fiscal year just a few days before the Thursday deadline. The continuing resolution omnibus, “cromnibus,” spending package would, if approved by the House, Senate and president, avert a government shutdown and again defer budget negotiations until next September. Under the agreement, most agency budgets would remain at similar levels to those enacted for FY14.

Will Your Research Ever Get the Tax Break That It Deserves?

Every time the R&D Credit comes up for renewal, a similar debate emerges. Proponents remind us that the tax break spurs innovation and supports high-paying jobs in science and technology. They call for a permanent R&D Credit, so that research-minded businesses can budget accordingly. Detractors point out that the last two-year extension cost $14 billion over ten years, and that making the credit permanent could cost $150 billion over ten years. They argue that nobody has figured out how to pay for a $150 billion loss in tax revenue.

Congress moves to protect Pentagon’s basic research spending at universities

Lawmakers reversed proposed cuts to Pentagon programs that fund basic research at universities, however, bumping up those programs by 6% or more. The reversal comes as a relief to many in academia, which has become increasingly reliant on Pentagon research funding. About one-half of the Pentagon’s basic research spending, or $1 billion annually, is distributed to university researchers.

Bill would help vets complete STEM studies

Students who use the Post-9/11 GI Bill would receive an extra nine months of benefits if they pursue a degree in one of the STEM fields, according to congressional documents and a news release. Reps. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Dina Titus, D-Nev., introduced the legislation Wednesday.

House passes bill to mitigate threat of EMP attacks

Passed by voice vote, H.R. 3410 would direct the agency to conduct a public education campaign about the threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) events and authorize research into its prevention and mitigation.

Congress Must Act and Pass Advanced Manufacturing Bill During Lame Duck

In the last decade, the United States’ share of the global manufacturing sector has dropped as well. Countries such as South Korea, China, Japan and Germany have a larger share of the advanced manufacturing sector than the United States, and each of these countries has a positive trade balance in advanced manufacturing products. In contrast, the United States had an $81 billion trade deficit in 2010.

NSA chief warns Chinese cyber attacks could shut U.S. infrastructure

Testifying to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on cyber threats, Rogers said digital attackers have been able to penetrate such systems and perform "reconnaissance" missions to determine how the networks are put together.

Could Obama cut deal on Keystone pipeline? Don't rule it out

President Barack Obama might be open to using the Keystone pipeline as leverage with Republicans if they cooperate on other aspects of his long-stalled domestic agenda, such as investing in infrastructure, closing tax loopholes or reducing carbon emissions.

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