Latest News: 2017

Dec 2017

  • House and Senate pass tax reform bill. The final bill does not tax graduate student tuition waivers as income and maintains the student loan interest tax deduction. (20 December 2017)
  • President Trump issues Space Policy Directive 1. The directive reinsatates the Moon as a destination for human space exploration and maintains Mars as the ultimate destination. The directive replaces Former President Obama’s 2010 National Space Policy regarding human space exploration, the rest of the 2010 policy remains into effect until changed.

Nov 2017

  • House passes tax reform bill amid concerns about provisions concerning graduate students and universities. (16 November 2017)
  • Tax reform bill, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act“, is introduced in the House. Universities and scientific societies raise concerns about provisions included in the bill. (2 November 2017)
  • House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform passes the PREPARE Act. Watch the hearing online here. (2 November 2017)
  • Senate Holds Hearings for NASA Administrator Nominee Congressman James Bridenstine (R-OK) and NOAA Nominee Neil Jacobs, Chief Atmospheric Scientist at Panasonic Avionics Corporation: Congressman Bridenstine was questioned on his climate change views, protecting scientific research from political interference, his budgeting and management skills, transparency in regard to controversial statements, and more. For the full hearing, watch online here. The questions and answers documents for Representative Bridenstine and Neil Jacobs are now available. (1 November 2017)

Oct 2017

  • Rep. Cartwright (D-PA) and Rep. Lance (R-NJ) introduces bipartisan legislationPREPARE Act of 2017 (H.R. 4177). The bill, which has 18 co-sponsors, would enhance our nation’s preparedness to extreme weather events. (31 October 2017)
  • National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, convenes its first meeting in Virginia. The council heard from representatives from civil, commercial, national security space industries. (5 October 2017)

Sept 2017

  • Rear Admiral (Ret.) Timothy Gallaudet is confirmed as Deputy Administrator of NOAA. Watch the confirmation hearing here. (27 September 2017)
  • Sen. Nelson Sends Letter on Scientific Integrity to Government Accountability Office: The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Ranking Member, Bill Nelson, sent a letter requesting the GAO to review federal agencies’ scientific integrity policies. (25 September 2017)
  • House Passes FY18 Omnibus Bill: The House of Representatives passed an omnibus appropriations bill. The omnibus contained 8 funding bills, including funding for EPA, NASA, NOAA, NSF, and USGS.  (14 September 2017)
  • Smarter Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoRAct Introduced : Introduced by Representative Bill Foster (D-IL-11), the bill states that the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) will ensure that the funding attributed to a jurisdiction over a 3-year period is calculated on a per capita basis. (13 September 2017)
  • The HONEST Act: Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) introduced the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017 or the HONEST Act. The bill would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations and assessments unless the science and technical information is the best available, specifically identified, and reproducible. (12 September 2017)
  • Continuing Geological Mapping Bill Introduced: Senator Murkowski  (R-AK) introduced the National Geological Mapping Act Reauthorization Act. The bill renews the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP) through 2023. The program is administered by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and allows mapping of federal and state areas. University students are also trained in geological mapping through this program. (11 September 2017)
  • Congress FY18 Funding Decision Pushed to December: Following Labor Day, Congress returned from the August district work period and quickly passed a continuing resolution (CR), staving off a government shutdown before the end of the fiscal year (30 September). A CR funds the government at the previous fiscal year’s levels; under a CR, agencies cannot begin new programs, or alter or eliminate existing programs. The CR expires on 8 December 2017, so Congress has a couple of months to come together on an FY18 spending package. (8 September 2017)
  • NEHRP Reauthorization to Better Earthquake Preparedness: Senators Murkowski (R-AK) and Feinstein (D-CA) introduced The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act of 2017. The bill will reauthorize the NEHRP program and therefore improve the nation’s earthquake preparedness. It also highlights the continued progress in early warning systems and coordination between federal and state agencies. (6 September 2017)
  • ARPA-E Reauthorized: House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30) introduced the bipartisan ARPA-E Reauthorization Act of 2017. The bill authorizes increased funding for ARPA-E through 2022. (6 September 2017)
  • Bridenstine Nominated NASA Administrator: President Trump nominated Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK-1), to serve as the next administrator for NASA. Bridenstine serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. He also was the Executive Director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium. (2 September 2017)

July 2017

  • House Heads Into August Recess: The House of Representatives is now in recess, which lasts from July 29 through September 4. The Senate’s recess, which usually occurs simultaneously, has been delayed by a couple of weeks. (29 July 2017)
  • House Passes Make America Secure ‘Minibus’: In a 235-192 vote, the House wrapped up work on the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, which bundles 4 of the 12 spending bills to fund the government beyond September 30. The Act includes a $789 billion defense spending package—about 80% going directly to the Pentagon, with the remainder going toward the departments of Veterans Affairs and Energy, as well as the legislative branch, military construction, and water infrastructure. (27 July 2017)
  • Senate Advances Science Appropriations Bill: In a 30-1 vote, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018. The bill would decrease funding for NSF’s research and education programs by 2% and NASA’s Science Mission Directorate by 3%, a departure from the House bill which would hold funding for the NSF accounts flat and raise NASA Science by 2%. The Senate bill would restore funding for several NASA Earth science missions slated for termination by the administration as well as a satellite servicing program. (27 July 2017)
  • AGU Endorses Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act: The bill, introduced to the House on June 27 by Rep. Perlmutter (D-CO), directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to coordinate the development and implementation of federal government activities to improve the nation’s ability to prepare, avoid, mitigate, respond to, and recover from potentially devastating impacts of space weather events. In a letter sent on July 26, AGU endorses the bill and applauds the bill’s intent to further scientifically informed action towards disaster preparation, mitigation, response, and recovery. (26 July 2017)

June 2017

  • Trump Reestablishes National Space Council: President Trump signed an Executive Order on June 30, reestablishing the White House National Space Council. Created by law in 1988 and operational under the George H.W. Bush Administration, the Council has not been funded or staffed since the end of his administration in January 1993. The Space Council’s purpose is to advise and assist the President on national space policy and strategy including to review U.S. government space policy and develop a strategy for national space activities; develop recommendations for the president on space policy and space-related issues; and monitor and coordinate implementation of the President’s national space policy. The Council will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. (30 June 2017)
  • Senate Introduces Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017: One June 28, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the “Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017”. The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) would authorize an annual 7% funding increase for the DOE Office of Science over five years and roughly steady funding over the next five years for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. (28 June 2017)
  • House Releases FY18 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill: On June 28, the House Appropriations Committee released the fiscal year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill. The bill contains $54 billion in discretionary funding – a decrease of $2.6 billion below FY17 – and funds the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies. The bill targets funding increases for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). The bill does provide a funding increase to NASA, but cuts funding to several other key science agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and NSF. (28 June 2017)
  • Space Weather Bill Introduced in House: On June 27, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the “Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act“, the companion to a bill the Senate passed by unanimous consent in May. The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and House Science Committee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), aims to strengthen space weather research and prediction by outlining the responsibilities of federal agencies in the development of new forecasting technologies as well as calling for standards to measure the impact of space weather. (27 June 2017)
  • Appropriations Committee Releases FY18 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill: On June 27, the House Appropriations Committee released the fiscal year 2018 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The legislation provides annual funding for national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, various programs under the Department of Energy (DOE), and other related agencies. The bill totals $37.56 billion, $209 million below the FY17 enacted level. Funding is targeted toward national security efforts, including nuclear weapons activities, and energy and water infrastructure investments. (27 June 2017)
  • House Subcommittee Advances Bill to Store Spent Nuclear Fuel at Yucca Mountain: On June 15, the Environment Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the “Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017”, advancing it to the full committee for further consideration. The bill would authorize the Department of Energy to move ahead with a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, and also provide for the construction of interim monitored retrievable storage facilities to provide flexibility “until Yucca Mountain is fully licensed and prepared to receive shipments.” (15 June 2017)
  • DOE To Unfreeze All ARPA-E Grant Funds: On June 14, the Department of Energy announced that it will release the remainder of FY16 funds previously frozen for over thirty competitively selected Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) awardees. (14 June 2017)
  • House Passes Energy Workforce Bill: On June 12, the House passed a bill that promotes education and workforce development programs to increase the number of individuals, including scientists, trained to work in energy and manufacturing. The bill would direct the Department of Energy to prioritize education and training activities when awarding grants. (12 June 2017)
  • How Many Science Jobs are at Risk Under Trump’s Proposed Budget? House Democrats Seek Answers: In a June 9 letter led by Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), 55 House Democrats called on the leaders of seven federal science agencies (DOE, EPA, NIST, NASA, NIH, NSF, and NOAA) to provide information on the number federal, laboratory, and university jobs that would be eliminated if the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2018 were to be enacted. The letter argues the funding levels requested “would cause permanent damage to our research infrastructure and workforce and furthermore force our National Labs to lay off critical scientific staff.” (9 June 2017)
  • NASA Acting Administrator Lightfoot Discusses the FY18 Budget on Capital Hill: NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot testified before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee on the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget. Much of the discussion surrounded the White House’s proposed cuts to the Earth Science budget and the termination of the Office of Education. (8 June 2017)
  • NSF Director Córdova Testifies at Budget Hearing: NSF Director France Córdova appeared before the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee to discuss the agency’s budget proposal for FY18. (7 June 2017)
  • American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017 Bill Introduced: U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduces H.R. 2809. This bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas), Rep. Jim Bridestine (R-Okla.), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.). (7 June 2017)
  • President Trump Will Withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement: The President announces that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, dealing a serious blow to global efforts to combat climate change. (1 June 2017)

May 2017

  • The Trump Administration Releases its FY18 Budget Proposal: The President’s budget proposes deep cuts to our nation’s leading scientific agencies including National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Read AGU’s response here. (23 May 2017)
  • Bill to Fund Federal Government Approved: The House approves the FY17 Consolidated Omnibus Appropriations Bill, the legislation that will provide discretionary funding for the federal government for the current fiscal year. (3 May 2017)
  • Senate Passes Space Weather Bill: The Senate unanimously passed a bill intended to support space weather research and planning to protect critical infrastructure from solar storms. (2 May 2017)

April 2017

March 2017

  • Weather Bill Passes Senate: The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), passes the Senate without objection. (29 Mar 2017)
  • HONEST Act Passes House: A revamped version of the Secret Science bill, the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act, passes the House. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), aims to make scientific research and data at EPA more transparent, but draws criticism from scientific organizations. Read AGU’s transparency position statement. (29 Mar 2017)
  • Nuclear Energy Bill Introduced: Senator Barasso (R-WY) along with a bipartisan group of 10 senators introduced S.512 Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act. The bill is currently being considered in the Senate. (20 March 2017)
  • President’s Budget Released: The White House released the President’s budget, entitled “America First – A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again“, a “skinny” or outline of the President’s budget. The Administration is slated to release a more detailed budget in May. Read AGU’s response here.
  • House Republicans’ Science Priorities: Today, the Republican members of the House Science, Space, & Technology Committee sent their fiscal year 2018 views and estimates to the House Budget Committee. This document outlines the GOP’s views on the agencies within it’s jurisdiction, including: Department of Energy’s Office of Science, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). (13 March 2017)
  • Senate Democrats’ Science Priorities: Today, some Democratic members of the Senate Commerce, Space, and Transportation Committee sent their fiscal year 2018 views and estimates to the Senate Budget Committee.  This document outlines the GOP’s views on the agencies within it’s jurisdiction, including: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. (10 March 2017)
  • Scientific integrity bill introduced in the House: Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduces  the Scientific Integrity Act, a companion to the Senate bill introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). (3 Mar 2017)
  • New Secretary of Energy: Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) was confirmed by the Senate to be the new Secretary of Energy. (2 Mar 2017)
  • New Secretary of Interior: Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) was confirmed by the Senate to be the new Secretary of Interior. (1 Mar 2017)

February 2017

  • INSPIRE ACT Becomes Law: The law directs NASA to encourage women and girls to pursue STEM education opportunities and careers in aerospace. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and in the Senate by Dean Heller (R-NV). (28 Feb 2017)
  • Earth and Space Science 101: Missed the first briefing of the House Earth and Space Science Caucus? Check out storify for a great recap of the event! (28 Feb 2017)
  • New Commerce Secretary: In a 72-27 vote, the Senate confirmed Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary. To learn more about Secretary Ross and the other nominees, read our Bridge blog post here. (27 Feb 2017)
  • Member’s day is February 28th: While only 52 out of 435 members of the House of Representatives sit on the Appropriations Committee, which writes the yearly federal discretionary spending bills, every Representative can make a public statement to the committee, stating their priorities for federal spending. Ask your Representative to stand up and speak out for Earth and space science. Deadline for Representatives to request time for testimony is 21 February, so act now. (15 Feb 2017)
  • Science Adviser Petition Update: We reached 10,000 signatures. Thank you to all who signed, shared, and supported our efforts. (13 Feb 2017)
  • Senate introduces bill to protect scientific integrity: Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and over 20 other senators introduce the Scientific Integrity Act, which aims to protect science at federal agencies from political interference. (7 Feb 2017)

January 2017

  • President Trump signs immigration ban executive order. Stand against the immigration ban, and tell your legislator that science has no borders. (27 Jan 2017)
  • Scientific Integrity: AGU issues letters to U.S. federal agencies addressing recent developments, where directives have been given for the agencies to cease public communications. Stand up for scientific integrity by sharing an AGU letter (25 Jan 2017)
  • Space Weather Bill: Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) introduces the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act, which would establish a national, coordinated plan to better understand and forecast space weather events (12 Jan 2017)
  • Science Policy Events at 2016 Fall Meeting: Did you miss a science policy event at Fall Meeting. Catch-up here. (10 Jan 2017)