Both the Senate and House were in recess this week and will return to session on Monday.
Next week, the Senate will consider executive and judicial nominations while the House will consider the Senate-passed version of the DATA Act (S. 994). Later in the week, it will take up two FY15 appropriations bills.
University of Illinois Submits Testimony for “Innovation Deficit” Hearing
UI President Robert A. Easter joined a group of 50 scientific, business, higher education, and patient organizations—including AAU, APLU, and The Science Coalition—in submitting written testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee for its hearing on April 29, “Driving Innovation through Federal Investments.” His testimony, which charts UI’s lasting legacies around innovation, was accompanied by an infographic that shows the importance of the campaign to “Close the Innovation Deficit.”
The Appropriations Committee has actively solicited written statements about the role of federal funding in innovation, and is using social media to encourage members of the public to “be part of the conversation,” with the hashtag #innovationdeficit.
Witnesses at next Tuesday’s hearing include the President’s Science Advisor, as well as the leaders of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and DARPA.
National Science Board Issues Rare Public Rebuke on NSF Authorization Bill
The National Science Board (NSB), the policymaking board of the National Science Foundation (NSF), issued a rare public statement expressing strong concerns about the Frontiers in Innovation, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act (H.R. 4186). This bill, which awaits a full committee markup in the House Science Committee (SST), reauthorizes funding for the National Science Foundation that is so vital to the University of Illinois.
In its statement, the NSB recognizes that some of the provisions and the tone of the FIRST Act “suggest that Congress intends to impose constraints that would compromise NSF’s ability to fulfill its statutory purpose.” Particularly concerning is the bill’s budget allocations for each NSF directorate. The NSB reasons that the legislation would “significantly impede NSF’s flexibility to deploy its funds to support the best ideas in fulfillment of its mission ‘to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes.’”
The FIRST Act was approved by the panel’s Research and Technology Subcommittee on March 13. The University of Illinois has joined AAU, APLU, and peer institutions by raising objections to the bill.
Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas
OGR Federal Relations