Wrapping Up the 114th Congress

12 December 2016
AGU Science Policy Alert 16-15

Congress Passed a Continuing Resolution:

Late on 9 December, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded at FY16 levels through 28 April 2017. Under a CR, our federal science agencies are unable to make grants, plan new missions, and budget appropriately. However, the CR does include anomalies of interest to the scientific community. Anomalies are provisions that fund programs at higher or lower rates than the previous fiscal year.

These include:
  • Allowing flexible apportionment authority for the NOAA to maintain weather forecasting capabilities of the Joint Polar Satellite System JPSS ensuring the continuation of data for weather warnings, including forecasts of severe weather events.
  • Allowing flexible apportionment authority for NASA to help avoid future cost increases and delays of the Space Launch System, Orion crew vehicle, and Ground Systems Development and Operations.

It is more important than ever for scientists to remind Congress that strong, stable science funding is critical to the country.  Write your legislator today and make sure they make science a priority as they continue working on appropriations bills.

What about all of those other science policy bills?
  • The Senate did not pass the AGU endorsedSpace Weather Research and Forecasting Act. Although the House has not introduced a bill, the issue enjoys bipartisan support in both chambers. Senator Peters is committed to reintroducing this bill in the new Congress.
  • Both the House and the Senate introduced NASA Reauthorization bills that hoped to guide NASA through the presidential transition, especially the space flight and exploration programs. Despite negotiations between the House and Senate that led to a compromise bill, the House recessed soon after passing the CR, which didn’t leave time for consideration of other bills.
  • Similarly, the House and the Senate each had their version of an America COMPETES Reauthorization bill. Despite numerous differences between the two bills, the House and the Senate were able to agree upon a negotiated draft. This draft included the Citizen Science & Crowdsourcing Act, which AGU endorsed. Congress ran out of time to consider this negotiated bill, but it’s possible that this bill would be re-introduced and passed early in the next Congress.
  • The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2016 requires NOAA to prioritize weather research in order to improve weather data, forecasts, and warnings for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. The bill was passed in both the House and the Senate, with the Senate amending the House version. However, Congress ran out of time to pass a conference version of the bill. It is likely that this bill will be introduced early in the 115th Congress.

How to Stay Involved:

  • Encourage President Elect Trump to Appoint a Science Advisor! AGU has launched a petition to President-elect Trump asking him to make appointing a Science Advisor a priority. Help AGU bring science to the White House by signing the petition at Change.orgPresident-Trump: Bring Science to the White House.
  • Where you can find us at Fall Meeting – Are you heading to AGU’s Fall Meeting next week? If so, check out our science policy events!
For a full list of our events, check out our Fall Events page!