Tagged: Science Funding

The future of NASA will focus on space exploration, while climate and Earth science programs are uncertain. (Credit: Grevera / Wikimedia Commons)

We Choose To Go To The Moon

This week, students and coders in 20 cities across the country voluntarily gathered to collect and back up copies of federal climate data, while on Capitol Hill, lawmakers discussed the future of the Earth Science Mission at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The mission monitors more than a dozen earth science satellites that provide data on the ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere and account for about $2 billion of NASA’s $20 billion budget.

Meeting of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology lays out legislative jurisdiction and includes a promise for fewer subpoenas from Chairman Lamar Smith. (Credit: Kirt L. Onthank/ Wikimedia Commons)

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Framework For 115th Congress

It’s hard to keep up with the overabundance of news coming out of D.C., so it would be easy to miss last week’s organizational meeting of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. During this time, the committee approved their Authorization and Oversight Plan (which broadly lays out their framework for the 115th Congress) and committee rules.

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Cabinet Updates: Boycotts, Delays, Rule Changes, and Some Bipartisan Support

After rescheduled hearings, the Senate moved forward on a number of Trump administration cabinet picks in a tumultuous week of partisan showdowns and dragged-out votes. On Wednesday, 10 empty seats at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing signaled a Democratic boycott on the nomination of Mr. Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, Republicans advanced Mr. Pruitt’s nomination without their counterparts across the aisle by suspending committee rules that required two members of the minority party be present for the vote.

Committee passes unfinished science bills from 114th Congress and approves cabinet nominees(Credit: NMFS/Southwest Fisheries Science Center)

Senate Commerce Committee Hits The Ground Running

It took only 25 minutes for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to advance 16 bills this week, including several of relevance to the ocean science community. Many of the measures were considered during the 114th Congress, and most had bipartisan support.

A flurry of confirmation hearings before inauguration day and the first cabinet member confirmed. (Credit: David Burnett/Contact Press Images)

President’s Cabinet Begins To Take Shape

Multiple Senate confirmation hearings overlapped last week, forcing members to scurry to and from simultaneous committee meetings. A confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for Representative Ryan Zinke, nominee for Secretary of the Department of Interior (which includes the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Park Service), was one of the more contentious ones. Rep. Zinke vowed not to sell nor lease public lands and emphasized support for allowing for extraction activities within them. He acknowledged the changing climate while stepping back from an earlier, stronger stance that called it a ‘threat multiplier’ in respect to national security and committed to maintaining science funding levels with particular interest in more research into “clean coal.”

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a confirmation hearing for Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump’s Department of Commerce secretary nominee. (Credit: NOAA)

What Role Will NOAA Play In The New Administration?

What does the Department of Commerce, most often regarded for its responsibility in creating conditions for economic growth and opportunity, have to do with the ocean? Within the department lies the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), placed there by an irate President Richard Nixon to keep it out of the control of the Secretary of the Interior (with whom he was feuding). The result is a commerce department with a wide-ranging spectrum of duties that include monitoring weather, enforcing international trade agreements, and regulating exports. On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a confirmation hearing for Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump’s Department of Commerce secretary nominee. Mr. Ross is a billionaire investor and a political newcomer with a long history in the steel, textile, automotive, and coal industries.

Maria Zuber, Chair of the National Science Board, urges federal leaders to continue to suport discovery research.(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Congressional Leadership And Vision Propels U.S. Leadership In Science

At a time of acute partisan rhetoric, it’s good to remember that our elected leaders have a long track record of coming together around an issue that impacts us all: science. The passage of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA) just before the holidays powerfully underscores that reality. Nothing advances our society more than acquiring new knowledge. As the AICA put it, “Scientific and technological advancement have been the largest drivers of economic growth in the last 50 years.” American discoveries have helped create industries and jobs, protect our war fighter. and have given us a deeper understanding of the world and ourselves.

The budget resolution provides a spending blueprint for federal agencies while taking aim at the affordable care act. (Credit: Pexels)

Congress Creates Plan For Next Decade Of Federal Spending

With the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) dominating congressional news this week, one important tidbit might have slipped by – Congress passed a budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 3) that would increase the deficit by $9 trillion from Fiscal Years (FY) 2018-2026.

The House Republican Conference officially elected leadership positions for the next Congress. (Credit: Penn State/Flickr)

Federal Regulations And Rulemaking Process Targeted In Bills Introduced In First Days of 115th Congress

It took a matter of hours after the 115th Congress was sworn in on January 3 for bills to be introduced in the House that would significantly impact executive branch regulations and rulemaking. The Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 (H.R. 21) and the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 26) both passed the House (along nearly party-line votes) less than 56 hours after the start of the session.