Capitol Hill

Speaker calls for end to oil export ban

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Wednesday for Congress to lift the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. Boehner hadn't taken sides in the debate until Wednesday, and his endorsement likely sets the stage for a major policy battle this fall on Capitol Hill. “Lifting the ban would create an estimated 1 million jobs here at home, jobs that would frankly get created in every state. It would help bring down prices at the pump for consumers, and it will be good for our allies,” Boehner said at a press conference.

Success of NASA missions revives funding debate

The recent success of NASA missions prompted a new debate Tuesday on budget cuts to the U.S. space program. Members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology called upon some of the country’s top planetary scientists to describe the latest NASA missions and the future of space exploration. Members of Congress lauded NASA for its recent historic achievements, namely the New Horizons' flyby of Pluto, as they advocated for restoring funding that is set to be eliminated.

Senate panel to vote on lifting oil export ban

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said her panel will vote before the August recess, scheduled to start Aug. 7, on a bill that includes oil exports and state revenue sharing for offshore oil and natural gas drilling. “[Offshore] revenue sharing and oil exports are very keen priorities of mine,” Murkowski told reporters Thursday.

Top Dem pushes $37M for network security: This is a crisis

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) plans to offer amendments to a spending bill Thursday that would boost funding to improve federal cybersecurity and protect millions of people whose personal information was exposed in a major breach. The first amendment would provide $37 million more to speed up improvements to network systems and information technology (IT) infrastructure one year ahead of schedule, according to Mikulski’s office.

Can Congress Break the Energy-Legislation Curse?

The last comprehensive piece of energy legislation to clear Congress came in 2007, with a bill that dealt with fuel economy, biofuel development, and energy efficiency. Since then, it's been a Sisyphean stretch of futility, setting aside a small energy-efficiency package that passed this spring. Of course, any legislating these days is a struggle, but energy carries with it a heap of nonstarters on both sides.

Congress, Silicon Valley Spar on Tackling Patent Trolls

While curbing abusive lawsuits is a noble goal, opponents worry a congressional push could stifle innovation and punish the wrong people. "We cannot afford to rush into passing a bill that would further weaken our innovation economy, which is exactly what the Innovation Act would do by making broad changes that fail to protect all patent holders," said Coons, who was joined at the event by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Bill Foster, D-Ill., and Scott Peters, D-Calif.

Tech CEOs press House leaders for patent vote

Major tech executives sent a letter to House leadership on Thursday pressing for passage of a patent litigation reform bill. Executives from companies like Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Yelp cautioned that a flawed patent system is one of the largest threats to their companies and said the House's Innovation Act strikes a "reasonable compromise."

Senate Passes Every Child Achieves Act

The Senate voted 81-17 Thursday to replace No Child Left Behind, the landmark federal education law that's now long overdue for an overhaul. The Senate's bill, the Every Child Achieves Act, would keep the signature feature of No Child Left Behind — standardized testing. But states would have more leeway to set goals for their schools and decide what to do if schools don't meet them, rolling back the federal government's role in education policy.

McCain raises concerns about possible China bid for Micron Tech

Republican U.S. Senator John McCain on Wednesday raised concerns about the potential national security implications of a proposed bid by China’s Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd’s to acquire U.S. chip maker Micron Technology Inc, and called for a thorough U.S. review. “I am concerned by the potential national security implications of a planned bid by a Chinese state-owned enterprise for Micron Technology, the last major American manufacturer of memory chips,” the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee said in response to a query from Reuters.

Innovation Act delayed in House amid bipartisan bicameral disapproval

Members of both major American political parties from both the Senate and the House of Representatives came together at a press conference held on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 14th, to oppose the most recent round of proposed patent reform bills in either chamber of Congress.

Bill To Boost Medical Research Comes With A Catch

The House of Representatives is planning to consider a bill Friday that could give a big cash infusion to medical research, which has been struggling in recent years. But the bill would also tweak the government's drug approval process in a way that makes some researchers nervous. Despite those worries, many scientists are cheering on the legislation. "We're very excited about the prospects for the 21st Century Cures Act," says Dave Moore at the American Association of Medical Colleges.

Internet domain transition could happen next July

Republicans in particular had been wary of the transition, fearing another government could exert increased control over the Internet without U.S. oversight.  But a bill working its way through Congress has largely allayed those concerns. The Dotcom Act, which recently passed the House, would allow Congress to review a final deal for 30 legislative days before any transition goes through. It would also require accountability measures to take effect within ICANN.

When America competes, the world benefits

As China prioritizes major research and development projects, and India graduates thousands more scientists and engineers, the U.S. faces significant challenges in the global marketplace.These challenges are precisely why the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is announcing it will convene an innovation and competitiveness working group in order to help craft legislation that would authorize science and technology policies previously directed under the America Competes Act.

NIH sees reversal of fortune with proposed funding boosts

After a dozen years of flat funding, the National Institutes of Health has become a top target on Capitol Hill — not for less money but more, potentially billions more by 2020. It’s a remarkable turnaround for the huge medical research agency, one triggered by a confluence of circumstances. Fears that the United States is losing ground to international competitors in science and technology synched with lawmakers’ need to show frustrated voters that they can work in a bipartisan manner, and NIH offered “an easy win” on both, advocates say.

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.


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