Capitol Hill

Senators push funding increase for energy research

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the bill, which would reauthorize energy programs included in the America COMPETES Act, an eight-year-old law that supports federal research and development. The bill would increase funding for energy research by 4 percent annually and reauthorize two Department of Energy research offices. The overall goal is to double the $5 billion the Energy Department spends on energy research.

House NASA Funding Bill Proposes a Fantastic Budget for Planetary Science

The House Appropriations Committee released their vision for NASA's 2016 budget this week, and it includes a fantastic level of support for NASA's Planetary Science Division: $1.557 billion. We at the Society have been arguing for at least $1.5 billion for this unique program for the past four years, so this is very satisfying to see. But there's a lot going on this bill, and not all of it is as positive as the planetary number. So let's break it down some.

House passes bill to promote space exploration

The House passed legislation on Thursday aimed at promoting investments in the commercial space industry. Passed 284-133, the bill would direct multiple federal agencies — including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Transportation and the Government Accountability Office — to report to Congress about commercial space practices.

House panel unveils $579B bill funding Pentagon

House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a nearly $579 billion bill funding the Defense Department for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The bill provides about $24 billion more than the current 2015 fiscal year and $800 million above President Obama’s request, according to the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee, which will mark up the bill behind closed doors Wednesday.

Senate could take up $612 billion defense policy bill in June

“Schedule permitting, the committee is ready to go to the floor in June,” a Senate Armed Services Committee aide told The Hill on Monday. The panel unveiled its draft of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week. The $612 billion policy blueprint sets spending limits for all Defense Department programs and initiatives.

Why Congress should back a stopgap commercial drone bill

Due to a slow-moving regulatory process, the U.S. commercial drone industry is rapidly losing altitude while other countries soar ahead. The Federal Aviation Administration has begun to develop the rules necessary to integrate small unmanned systems into U.S. airspace, but it has already conceded that it will miss its September 2015 deadline, and now the Government Accountability Office predicts that we cannot expect to completely integrate commercial drones into America's skies until 2017 or later.

Bipartisan legacy endangered as COMPETES hits House floor

The last two bills to reauthorize the nation's science and energy research programs in 2007 and 2010 passed with broad bipartisan support and united statements of forging a bold path to retain U.S. scientific leadership. But the 2015 version scheduled to be considered on the House floor this week is likely to play out much differently, despite both parties touting the need for scientific research and innovation to keep the United States a world economic leader.

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Approves Pro-Commercial Space Bills

Members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today approved a package of four space bills intended to bring stability and certainty to the growing commercial space market. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) this week introduced the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 or SPACE Act, alongside Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) and 10 additional cosponsors.

Sen. Cory Booker to the FAA: Enough is enough on drones

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), along with his cosponsor U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), introduced a new bill, the Commercial UAS Modernization Act, as an interim means to ensure American consumers and innovators can begin reaping the many benefits of drones, while allowing the FAA to focus on resolving some of the more contentious, and difficult, elements of their proposed rules.

Senators introduce bills to increase offshore drilling

A group of senators introduced a trio of bills Tuesday to open up more areas of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic to offshore oil drilling and to provide more oil revenue for states. Sen. Bill Cassidy's (R-La.) legislation would allow offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico... A bill from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) would require leasing sales in three areas off the coast of Alaska... and Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced a bill requiring three leasing sales in the Atlantic Ocean.

Senators want drones to fly before rules are finalized

A pair of senators is pushing legislation that would allow U.S. commercial drones to fly before federal regulations on them are finalized. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would set up temporary rules for commercial drone use and testing in the United States until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finishes its rule making on the issue.

Swalwell, Issa Announce the Sharing Economy Caucus

“As more Americans are opting to stay at Airbnbs, share their cars on Getaround, and take Uber and Lyft, it is important for Congress to take a closer look at the emerging Sharing Economy sector,” said Swalwell. “This Caucus will explore the opportunities made possible by the sharing model, and how Congress can foster innovation and address challenges posed by this emerging sector.”

Student Privacy Bill Puts Ed-Tech Groups in Hot Seat

Just about a year ago, a student data nonprofit with the backing of none other than Bill Gates found itself in the crosshairs of angry parents who bristled at its big data ambitions. The death of inBloom has cast a shadow on the debate over student privacy ever since. It’s a debate that’s starting to bleed into Congress, as members of the House are introducing a bill that would limit the ways in which technology companies use data from students who use their devices and programs.

House panel advances bill to ‘restore balance’ to NASA

The party-line, 19-15 vote highlights an ideological fracture over the future of the space agency and hints at the partisan divide over the role of federal agencies in responding to climate change. “For more than 50 years, the U.S. has led the world in space exploration,” Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said in a statement after the vote.“We must restore balance to NASA’s budget if we want to ensure the U.S. continues to lead in space for the next 50 years.

Authorization Bill a Prelude to US Spending Showdown

The House Armed Services Committee handed the Pentagon and US defense sector a victory by surgically protecting weapon programs and authorizing extra war funding — but a showdown with the White House looms. The committee, in the early hours of April 30, voted to add billions to a list of weapon programs, and signed off on a $495.9 billion base Pentagon budget and an $89.2 billion overseas contingency operations (OCO) account.

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