Category: Policy News

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House Floor Action: NDAA and Flood Insurance Reauthorization

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA, H.R. 2810) passed the House (356-70) and Senate (by voice vote) this week. The 21st Century Flood Reform Act (H.R. 2874) passed the House (237-189). Activities of the U.S. military, ranging from understanding our ocean and providing disaster relief to enforcing laws and providing medical assistance, are authorized each year by the NDAA. Many provisions relate to the safety and security of our nation and our military, making this a must-pass bill that has been passed 55 years in a row.

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Diversifying The STEM Workforce

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a markup on four science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) bills (STEM Research and Education Effectiveness and Transparency Act (H.R. 4375), Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act (H.R. 4323), Women in Aerospace Education Act (H.R. 4254), and Building Blocks of STEM Act (H.R. 3397)) and on three bills promoting research at the Department of Energy (Department of Energy Research Infrastructure Act of 2017 (H.R. 4376), Accelerating American Leadership in Science Act of 2017 (H.R. 4377), and Nuclear Energy Research Infrastructure Act of 2017 (H.R. 4378)). All seven bills passed out of committee by voice vote.

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Science Serving Communities

The Sea Grant Association, in conjunction with Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-1) and Joe Courtney (CT-2), hosted a briefing, “Using science and outreach to assist state and local decision makers in disaster preparedness and public safety.” Hurricanes Maria, Harvey, Irma, and Nate, along with raging wildfires, have wreaked havoc on the lives of Americans this year, leading Congress to appropriate $50 billion in emergency disaster aid since September. Sea Grant supports research that seeks to understand natural disasters, how humans and nature respond, and how to prepare for the future based on past outcomes.

(Credit: Flicker)

Drilling For The Future

The Strengthening the Economy with Critical Untapped Resources to Expand (SECURE) American Energy Act (H.R. 4239) was discussed in a hearing by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. The next day, it was marked up by the full committee, passing along a nearly party line vote (19-14).

(Credit: C-SPAN)

Bridenstine Nomination Approved By Committee On Party-line Vote

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be NASA Administrator this morning on a party-line vote. The committee also approved Neil Jacobs to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction on a voice vote. The nominations next will go to the full Senate for a vote. Dates have not been announced.

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Questions On The Road To Confirmation

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing to consider four presidential nominees subject to Senate confirmation, including The Honorable James Bridenstine (OK-1) to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Dr. Neil Jacobs to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Environmental Observation and Prediction at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

(Credit: NOAA)

Working Together On Water

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans held a hearing on three water bills, including the Hydrographic Services Improvement Amendments Act (H.R. 221) and Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act (H.R. 1176). The use of our ocean is increasing, and this hearing focused on two pieces of legislation that would address the backlog of coastal surveys (which could help prevent oil spills, ship collisions, and habitat destruction) and ensure working waterfronts persist through coastal development.

(Credit: Jeff Rotman/ jeffrotman.com)

One Fin, Two Fin, Red Fin, No Fin

The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Interior, Energy, and Environment held a hearing, “Examining the Regulation of Shark Finning in the United States.” There are nearly 500 species of sharks, and these top predators play a key role in maintaining ecosystem balance, which allows for thriving fisheries, robust habitats, and a healthy ocean. In turn, a healthy ocean is critical to life on this planet – from supplying oxygen and food to its role in international commerce.