Appropriations Requests Submitted to Delegation
This week, OGR submitted the University of Illinois' Fiscal Year 2015 programmatic requests to the Illinois Congressional delegation. The programmatic letter from President Robert Easter details the University's agency and program priorities within each of the individual appropriations bills. Next week, OGR will be providing each of the Congressional offices with supplemental information on the importance of these various funding lines for UI campuses. If you are interested in seeing a copy of the final letter, please contact Melissa Haas.
Opening Shots Fired in the Battle over NSF Funding
On Thursday, a House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee advanced the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act which reauthorizes programs and funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The legislation contains substantial funding cuts to social, behavioral and economic research. The authorized funding levels do not keep pace with inflation. Although some constructive technical changes were made by Rep. Dan Lipinski, the bill still contains very problematic provisions. In its current form, the bill falls short of the COMPETES Act Guiding Principles that our campuses signed many months ago.
The FIRST Act must still be considered by the full Committee. In the meantime, OGR will continue to work constructively with our members on the Committee to address these problematic provisions and will withhold support for the bill unless it provides strong sustained funding for research and innovation.
Patent Bill to Move in Senate
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark up "patent troll" legislation on March 27. The Senate bill is currently acceptable, but problematic provisions could be added at the markup. The University of Illinois will be collaborating with Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and Northern Illinois University to protect university interests at the markup.
Durbin Biomedical Research Bill
Senator Dick Durbin introduced legislation earlier this week called the American CURES Act, which would enhance federal funding for biomedical research. Specifically, it would create a mandatory trust account that would provide mandatory funds—exempt from sequestration—for biomedical research conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Defense Health Program (DHP), and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program. Those funds would be keyed annually to the rate of inflation plus 5 percent. UI President Easter has endorsed this legislation and provided a letter of support.
ILLINOIS IN DC
UIC Siva Sivananthan Presents to New Dem Coalition, House Science and National Labs Caucus
UIC Physics Professor and Director of UIC’s Microphysics Laboratory, Dr. Sivalingam "Siva" Sivananthan, was in DC on Thursday to speak on the Hill about the importance of federally funded basic research and how university spin-off companies are a driving force of innovation. Dr. Siva’s company, EPIR Technologies, was one of seven UIC spin-off companies featured in the Science Coalition's report Sparking Economic Growth 2.0, which highlighted 100 companies that can trace their roots back to federally funded research.
Dr. Siva participated in a morning roundtable discussion with Members of Congress who belong to the House New Democrat Coalition, including Rep. Bill Foster. Dr. Siva also participated in a lunch briefing co-hosted by the House Science and National Labs Caucus and The Science Coalition on how federally funded research is fueling American innovation and economic growth. Throughout the day he met with Rep. Tammy Duckworth and the offices of Rep. Aaron Schock, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, and Rep. Peter Roskam to explain the importance of Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT), a material used by the military for night vision equipment. Dr. Siva's lab at UIC is a national leader in developing expertise and technology for this equipment, which helps contribute to U.S. military superiority.
Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas
OGR Federal Relations