By Brian Mosley, Associate Director, Government Affairs With Labor Day behind us, Congress has returned from its August Recess, and the legislative body has been met with some major, yet typical, items on its September to-do list. The most significant being passing a continuing resolution to keep the federal government running after the start of […]
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By Brian Mosley, Associate Director, Government Affairs In mid-August, the Biden Administration released a memo to the Federal research agencies outlining their research and development priorities for the Fiscal Year 2025 budget. The memo provides guidance to the agencies on how to prepare their budget request submissions for the Office of Management & Budget (OMB), […]
Over the Memorial Day Weekend, President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy (R-CA) agreed to a deal to suspend the nation’s debt limit and make changes to control federal spending. Congress worked quickly over the following week and, through much partisan grumbling and political showmanship, passed the legislation into law.
The Task Force on American Innovation (TFAI), a coalition of American universities, scientific societies, and high-tech companies, released a letter on May 26th calling on the leaders of both Congressional Appropriation Committees to provide, “strong investments in science research, innovation, and workforce development,” in the coming Fiscal Year 2024 budget.
The Biden Administration released a set of principles aimed at creating a Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights to, “help guide the design, development, and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) and other automated systems so that they protect the rights of the American public.”
On September 13th, 25 computing researchers from across the country took part in a virtual training session to prepare them to make the case to Congress for federally funded computing research. Holding the training virtually is a change from past Congressional Visit Days that CRA Government Affairs staff have run. Due to ongoing restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 Pandemic and post-January 6th security, the Congressional office buildings located in Washington D.C. are not open to the general public. Despite these obstacles, CRA organized a virtual event for computing researchers to meet with their Congressional representatives in web meetings in order to keep making the case for Federal support for computing research.
Recently, the National Science Board (NSB) elected former CRA Board Chair Daniel Reed, from the University of Utah, as its next chair. Dr. Reed was appointed to the NSB in 2018. He served on the CRA Board of Directors from 1999 to 2009 and was chair from 2005 to 2009; he currently serves on the CRA Government Affairs Committee. At this critical juncture for NSF — with the focus on emerging technologies, the creation of the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP), and the pending NSF legislation in Congress which will likely reshape the mission of the agency — it’s crucial to have someone from the computing and IT research community helping to steer the NSB in its oversight of the agency and in crafting Federal science policy. We wish to congratulate Dr. Reed on this great honor, and we look forward to working with him as he continues to serve the Nation in this new role!
On February 4th, the House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act of 2022, a legislative package containing a bold reauthorization of the National Science Foundation and calling for significant new investments in the country’s research enterprise, among other provisions. While the bill passed the House on a partisan vote, it does set up a better legislative counterpart to the Senate’s NSF reauthorization bill, the US Innovation and Competitiveness Act (USICA), which passed last summer. The hope within the S&T policy community is that a final piece of legislation can be agreed to quickly by both chambers of Congress and then be sent to the President’s desk for signing into law. However, final passage is not guaranteed at the moment.
Over the last two months, competing visions of the future of the National Science Foundation have been making their way through the House and Senate. And much like the famous opening line of Tale of Two Cities, their paths could not be more dissimilar. On the House side, the National Science Foundation for the Future Act has made deliberative and bipartisan progress through the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Meanwhile, on the Senate side, the Endless Frontier Act has been introduced; pulled, reworked, and reintroduced; heavily amended during a marathon Senate Commerce Committee hearing; and is now before the full Senate undergoing another round of amendments. Very different paths.
On Monday, June 22nd, President Trump issued the latest in a series of immigration and visa related orders designed to limit the involvement of foreign students and researchers, in particular those from mainland China, in U.S. research efforts. The order follows a series of other proposals and orders emanating from the White House and Capitol Hill that have raised the ire of higher-education, U.S. industry, and the computing research community over recent weeks. The proposals — two proclamations, Senate legislation and bicameral legislation — all have the stated goals of protecting U.S. jobs from foreign competition or protecting U.S. research from foreign exploitation, but in CRA’s analysis would likely do more damage to the U.S. research ecosystem than the threats they are trying to address.
It should come as no surprise that the normal operations of official Washington have been heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Current events have derailed almost every aspect of the usual budget process. In terms of emergency funding, the CARES Act, passed at the end of March, has about $180 million dollars in emergency research funding for NIH, NSF, DOE Office of Science, and NIST. As well, there was about another $86 million for three agencies (NASA, NOAA, and NIST) to support “continuity of operations;” i.e., any operations that were disrupted by the pandemic, such as rescheduling a space science mission at NASA. Additionally, there was support for higher education, in the form of about $14 billion; however, that isn’t set aside for research and by all reports is being used by colleges and universities for administrative purposes (meaning, keeping the lights on). All that funding was directly related to responding to the pandemic.