April 3, 2015 Capitol Update

In this issue:



U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced bipartisan legislation to help schools strengthen their engineering programs and meet the growing demands of 21st century manufacturing.  The bill would designate 25 universities as ‘Manufacturing Universities’ and provide incentives to better align curriculum with the needs of modern manufacturers. 

The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015 would establish a program within the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that would designate 25 schools as ‘Manufacturing Universities.’  Designated schools would receive $5 million per year for four years to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering programs on manufacturing, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing training opportunities, and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship. 

“It’s critical that our schools and universities equip students for success in manufacturing and contribute to the research and development that drives advanced manufacturing,” said Senator Coons. “Although our economy has created more than 800,000 manufacturing jobs over the last five years, hundreds of thousands of jobs remain unfilled because we don’t have enough trained workers. We need our engineers to fill the growing demand for manufacturing workers and accelerate manufacturing’s growth. This bipartisan bill would help us meet that challenge. By helping schools focus their engineering programs on advanced manufacturing skills, we can equip our next generation of engineers with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.”

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.).

ASME supported this legislation in the 113th Congress and supports this version in the 114th Congress as well.  To read the full legislation, please visit http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/manufacturing-innovation-competitiveness/ and look under "Legislation".



The House Science Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing last week to review the Department of Energy’s (DOE) $2.72 billion budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), including technology research, development, demonstration, and commercialization activities.

EERE leads DOE efforts on clean energy technology development by supporting high impact applied research, development, and demonstration activities in the three sectors under EERE’s purview – sustainable transportation, renewable power and energy efficiency. Many EERE programs are focused on reducing market barriers for existing technology or funding R&D activities related to the agency’s core technology areas.

Republicans on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee have taken issue with the President’s request for EERE, arguing that the agency’s budget has grown too large, and that DOE should focus more on basic research. EERE’s budget has increased by 58 percent in the last decade; the agency also received a one-time infusion of over $16 billion in stimulus funding in 2009. According to DOE figures and a third-party analysis of EERE spending, EERE investments of $15 billion between 1976 and 2008 yielded an economic return to the economy of $388 billion.

Additional information on the hearing, including the prepared statements of the witnesses and an archived webcast of the hearing itself, is available at:  http://science.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-energy-hearing-department-energy-oversight-office-energy-efficiency-and



ASME Board on Precollege Education Committee Member Elizabeth Parry of North Carolina State University was one of the fourteen individuals and one organization that President Obama named as the newest recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). Parry and the other mentors will receive their awards at a White House ceremony later this year.
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring is awarded by the White House to individuals and organizations to recognize the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science and engineering—particularly those who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields. By offering their expertise and encouragement, mentors help prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers while ensuring that tomorrow’s innovators represent a diverse pool of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics talent throughout the United States. Parry was honored for her work “to increase the accessibility of engineering to students--from kindergarten through university--and their parents.”
Candidates for the award are nominated by colleagues, administrators, and students in their home institutions or through professional affiliations. Candidates may also self-nominate. Their mentoring can involve students at any grade level from elementary through graduate school and professional development mentoring of early career scientists. In addition to being honored at the White House, recipients receive awards of $10,000 from the National Science Foundation. The mentors and organizations announced last week represent the winners for 2012 and 2013.

A list of the recipients is available at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/stem-workforce-development/ under “Issue Reports”.

A fact sheet on PAESMEM may be viewed at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/stem-workforce-development/ under “Issue Reports”.



The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Space held a hearing on the progress of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).  While the program previously experienced cost and schedule overruns, it has remained on track since it was revised in 2011.  The progress of the JWST has been reviewed internally and externally including annual reviews by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  The most recent review determined the project has ten months of unused reserves as its moves into the integration and testing phase, more time than was planned or is customary for a project of this size and complexity. 

“This next great space observatory remains within budget and on track to meets its October 2018 launch date,” stated John Grunsfeld, NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator.  Cristina Chaplain, Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management, GAO told the subcommittee, “Ten months of reserve is a long time, and the cost reserve is very healthy, and I don’t often get to testify on programs with that kind of luxury in terms of reserve.”  Chaplain did caution that JWST is a very complicated program, and agreed with the other witnesses that integration and testing may present unforeseen problems, “but they are in a healthy position at this point.”

Several committee members asked about the adequacy of NASA’s funding for the remaining work to be accomplished by the 2018 launch.  The agency requested $620 million for JWST for FY 2016.  Grunsfeld stated that he believed this request was adequate and should allow NASA to meet future scheduled requests.

Full testimony and video of the hearing may be found at http://science.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-space-hearing-searching-origins-universe-update-progress-james-webb-space.



U.S. Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) on March 26th launched their new bipartisan grassroots #CutRedTape Initiative which will create the first central location online for American families and businesses to voice their stories about how federal regulations impact them on a daily basis.

The #CutRedTape Initiative will gather stories from Americans across the country to help determine how the federal government could be more efficient and effective. In their new roles as Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, Lankford and Heitkamp have made improving federal regulatory policy a top priority. They aim to use the stories from their initiative to help make federal regulations work better for families and businesses by reducing waste, stopping backlogs, and cutting red tape.

Currently, there is not a single location where every day Americans can provide insight about how federal regulations impact them. Now with Lankford and Heitkamp’s #CutRedTape Initiative, a central location will exist, and the Senators will use the stories to determine areas where the federal government can cut red tape and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy so regulations can work as intended. Click on http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/rafm/cut-red-tape to visit the new #CutRedTape Initiative webpage and submit a story.


Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/ for daily news and policy developments, including the following:

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