February 13, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:



The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a framework for a comprehensive energy package to advance its Architecture of Abundance agenda this Congress. The committee is preparing a series of discussion drafts to address four key policy areas: modernizing infrastructure; a 21st century energy workforce; energy diplomacy; and, efficiency and accountability. The committee plans to advance the discussion drafts through the committee’s legislative process in the coming months with the goal of bringing a solutions-focused energy package to the House floor later this year.  

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) said, “Our energy realities have changed dramatically – we’ve gone from bust to boom practically overnight. Today’s energy policies are lagging far behind, and are better suited for the gas lines in the 1970s than this new era of abundance. We need policies that meet today’s needs and are focused on the future, and that starts with building the Architecture of Abundance. By modernizing our infrastructure, empowering a 21st Century energy workforce, strengthening our energy diplomacy, and promoting more efficiency and accountability, we can lay the foundation for a forward-looking national energy strategy that truly embraces our energy abundance and its boundless benefits. Most importantly, saying yes to energy will create jobs, keep costs down for all Americans, and boost our energy security.”

To view the committee’s Architecture of Abundance framework, visit http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/ and look under Legislation.



The U.S. House of Representatives passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2015, legislation intended to reaffirm Congress’s commitment to NASA as a multi mission agency with programs in science, aeronautics, exploration, and human spaceflight, and make clear that Mars should be NASA’s primary goal. The legislation was passed by voice vote.

Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) was joined by Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-MS.), Space Subcommittee Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-MD), and Space Subcommittee Vice-Chair Mo Brooks (R-AL) praised the bipartisan bill.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2015 would authorize funding consistent with the Consolidated and Further Appropriations Act of 2015. The bill continues the consistent guidance Congress has given to NASA for nearly a decade by reaffirming a stepping stone approach to exploration. The bill focuses NASA’s efforts to develop a capability to access the International Space Station so that America can once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. It also increases support for the Space Launch System and the Orion Crew Vehicle – systems being developed to take astronauts to deep-space destinations like Mars – in an attempt to keep the programs on schedule for a 2017 launch date. 

The bill also supports the science directorate with language that reflects input from the scientific community and an aeronautics research directorate that contributes to the nation’s aerospace economy.

The full text of the legislation can be found at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/research-and-development/ under Legislation.

A one-page summary of the legislation can be found at http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/020615_NasaOnePager.pdf



Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz defended his department’s FY 2016 budget request at a hearing held by the House Energy Subcommittee on Energy and Power.  

The President’s budget proposed $29.9 billion for DOE for FY 2016 (October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016). The budget request is a 9.2 percent percent increase, or $2.52 billion, above the FY 2015 enacted level.

Secretary Moniz’s remarks focused on several key aspects of DOE’s Strategic Plan, including:

  • Continued implementation of the President’s Climate Action Plan, to reduce emissions at home and around the globe;
  • Continued commitment to an all-of-the-above energy strategy, to encourage innovation, create jobs, enable economic growth, and contribute to domestic manufacturing and net exports;
  • Maintaining leadership in basic research in the physical sciences—and increasingly in the life sciences, develop the next generation of computation technology, and develop and maintain world-class scientific user facilities;
  • Maintaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of testing, and manage the infrastructure needed to meet national security requirements; and,
  • Continued reduction of the global nuclear terrorism threat through measures to identify, control, and eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide.

His complete written testimony is posted at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/fiscal-year-2016-department-energy-budget.

Secretary Moniz repeated his testimony at a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. His testimony, as well as an archived video of the hearing, is available at http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2015/2/full-committee-hearingdepartment-of-energy-s-budget-for-fy-2016



In a Federal Register notice, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will conduct a comprehensive assessment of science and energy technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RD3) opportunities to address the nation’s energy-linked economic, environmental, and security challenges. This comprehensive document—the 2015 edition of the DOE’s Quadrennial Technology Review, or QTR–2015— will examine an ‘‘all of the above’’ range of energy technologies to inform the configuration of the Department’s programs and priorities, industry and university engagement, and national lab activities, and will serve as a key input into the Department’s forthcoming Science and Energy Plan.

A series of open meetings will be held between February 11th and March 4th to describe work in progress. Written comments should be submitted on or before March 9, 2015. The meetings will be held via webinar and conference call. The schedule and the web links are available at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/ under “Regulations and Announcements”.

Comments may be submitted electronically to: DOE–QTR2015@hq.doe.gov or by U.S. mail to the Office of the Under Secretary of Science and Energy, S–4, QTR Meeting Comments, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585–0121.

Additional information is available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-02-05/pdf/2015-02307.pdf



A new report by the Information Technology and Information Foundation (ITIF) finds that while for most of the postwar era the United States has enjoyed superior leadership in innovation, this superiority has begun to erode. The report says this is true whether measured by student skills, research and development spending, patents, or high-technology industry output. The U.S.-led IT revolution of the 1990s seemed to slow down this innovation convergence, but only until the bubble burst in the early 2000s. While America has recovered faster from the global financial crisis than other nations, structural trends in innovation convergence have not disappeared. On the contrary, the technological advancement of large emerging economies, such as China, has even more clearly delineated different nations’ impacts in global innovation.

In the absence of significant government investment in innovation (from both direct spending and tax incentives for business to invest more in innovation), the current budget sequestration is likely to pave the way for further relative decline in innovation with accompanying slower economic growth. It is not an inevitable scenario, however. The United States could once again lead in the race for global innovation advantage with an appropriate innovation strategy — one that’s credible, bipartisan and medium- to long-term in nature.

This report assesses the current state of the American innovation ecosystem, compares it to the systems of our top global competitors and argues that we need a comprehensive national innovation strategy, backed by significant government investment, to restore the United States to global leadership.

The 25-page report may be viewed at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/manufacturing-innovation-competitiveness/ under “Issue Reports”.

Information on ITIF is available at http://www.itif.org/


The articles contained in Capitol Update are not positions of ASME or any of its sub-entities, unless specifically noted as such. This publication is designed to inform ASME members about issues of concern being debated and discussed in the halls of congress, in the states and in the federal agencies.

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

Murkowski to Take Chances on Broad Energy Package

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  • Melissa Carl covers public policy-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and diversity issues for ASME. She can be reached at carlm@asme.org
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