They're Baaaack!

8 September 2016
AGU Science Policy Alert 16-7

Congress returned this week with big items on their legislative agenda: funding the government for fiscal year 2017 (FY17), the zika crisis, and a comprehensive energy bill–making each of the 17 legislative days until the October recess (for campaigning) critical. More highlights on what to expect over the next few weeks:

Federal Science Funding Process:

For the first time in years, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed all 12 spending bills—unfortunately, only a handful of these have passed the full House or Senate. The House and Senate have until the end of the fiscal year on 30 September to pass all 12 twelve spending bills in order to prevent a government shutdown. Given that Congress only has 17 legislative days before the end of the fiscal year, Congress will likely pass a short term continuing resolution (CR) to keep current funding levels going until after the election.

Looking further down the road, there is the potential for a longer-term CR that would lock in FY16 spending levels for all of FY17, which will be detrimental to federal science agencies. Agencies would be unable to award new grants, start new missions, or hire new employees. For more information, see AGU’s letter to House and Senate Appropriators. Please take action and ask your legislators to support science through strong funding and to avoid a long-term CR.

For in-depth coverage on this year’s funding for our nation’s science agencies, check out our four-part series: Funding Season is Open on The Bridge.

COMPETES Legislation:

Earlier this summer, AGU sent a letter of support to Senators Thune, Nelson, Peters, and Gardner for co-sponsoring S.3084, The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. This act would be the counterpart to the House-passed America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806), which AGU opposed due to cuts to the NSF Geosciences Directorate. The Senate version was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, Transportation Committee in June and still needs to be considered by the full Senate.

Upcoming Events:

  • You’re invited to attend an upcoming webinar: How Elections Affect the Geosciences: Navigating New Leadership. Learn how the upcoming presidential and congressional transition period will shape geoscience research and funding. Guest speakers include Gene Whitney, former Energy Research Manager for the Congressional Research Service, and Virginia Ainslie, CEO of Ainslie & Associates.
  • See our Storify on the AGU Women’s Equality Day social media campaign, featuring amazing geoscientists including NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan, Chair of the National Science Board Maria T. Zuber, and Principal Assistant Director for Environment & Energy at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP), Tamara Dickinson.
  • Keep an eye out for our upcoming Reddit AMA during Earth Science Week (9-15 October) with Phil Klotzbach, head of Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project and writer for Capital Weather Gang.