February 16, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


PRESIDENT’S FISCAL YEAR 2019 BUDGET PROPOSAL RELEASED: NON-DEFENSE R&D SLASHED BY 19%

The White House released its budget proposal for FY 2019 (FY19) this week, again proposing to cut spending on domestic discretionary programs while dramatically increasing spending on defense. As Congress last week reached an agreement to increase FY18 and FY19 funding levels, the budget includes several last minute additions providing additional funding for non-defense programs. This by and large mirrors the administration’s FY18 budget approach, which slashed non-defense domestic programs and mandatory spending. Key research and development agency highlights are detailed below.

Please note that final FY18 funding levels are not yet available; comparisons are made to final FY17 omnibus spending levels. 

Department of Energy (DOE)
The budget seeks $30.6 billion (b) for the Department of Energy, a $4.2b cut from FY17. The bill includes $5.4b for the Office of Science, the same as FY17 enacted levels. Within DOE’s applied energy research programs, the budget provides $757million (m) for nuclear energy (-$244m), $696m for Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (-$1.4b), $502m for fossil energy (-$186m), $157m for electricity delivery and reliability (-$73m), and $120m in funding for Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The budget again proposes elimination of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy (ARPA-E), last funded at $306m, and cuts several loan guarantee programs for clean energy technologies (including nuclear energy) and advanced vehicle manufacturing. 

Department of Defense (DOD)
The president’s request for Department of Defense (DOD) Science and Technology (S&T) totals $13.7b, up $500m from last year’s budget request and up $300m from FY17 enacted. Of the total S&T request, $2.3b would be for 6.1 basic research (+$100m); $5.1b for 6.2 applied research (consistent with FY17 enacted levels); and $6.3b for 6.3 advanced technology development (+$200m).

The proposal requests $114.6m for the Defense-Wide Manufacturing Science and Technology Program (DMS&T) (PE 0603680D8Z), down $21.6m or 16-percent from the President’s FY18 request. The FY18 budget included $21.3m in core programs and an additional $133.8m to fund all eight DOD Manufacturing USA Institutes, $18.8m higher than last year’s request and FY27 enacted levels.

The request also instructs the DOD to undertake a “whole-of-Government assessment of the health and strength of America’s manufacturing and defense industrial base and identifying any potential gaps in its capabilities. As part of this broad assessment, the budget proposes to ensure sustained investment in the defense industrial base as a key component of economic and national security, recognizing that critical facilities, workforce skills, and the long-term health of the defense industrial base are fundamental to economic and national security.”

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA FY19 budget request is for $6.15b, a $2.0b reduction from the FY17 omnibus level. Funding for the EPA’s Office of Science and Technology Policy is cut by more than 30 percent from the FY17 enacted level of $762m to $489m in the President’s request. 

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
The NIST FY19 budget request is $629.1m, $325m below FY17 omnibus levels. For Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS), the budget requests $573.4m (-$116.6m).

The president again calls for eliminating the $125m Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. Last budget cycle, Congress protected the funding stream for MEP, fully funding the program in both FY17 and FY18.

The President’s request for Manufacturing USA at NIST mirrors last year’s request. NIST would receive $5m for coordination efforts among all agencies involved in Manufacturing USA, as well as $10m for the NIST-led National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) Manufacturing USA Institute, $10m below FY17 and FY18 enacted levels.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
The NASA FY19 budget request totals $19.6b, a $500m (2.6-percent) increase from the 2018 budget, but $61m below NASA’s FY17 funding level. The budget proposes to end direct U.S. Government funding for the space station by 2025 and provides $150m to begin a program that would encourage commercial development of capabilities that NASA can use in its place.

The budget supports the technology demonstration of in-space robotic manufacturing and assembly. The budget provides $54.2m for public-private partnerships to demonstrate new technologies used to build large structures in a space environment. The budget also highlights continued “Robotic Exploration of the Solar System,” providing $2.2b to Planetary Science and maintains support for competed science missions and the next Mars rover, which would launch in 2020.  The request includes $913m for Exploration Research and Technology, $231m more than FY18 estimated appropriations. These funds support programs including NASA’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The request for the NIH totals $33b. However, before last week’s budget deal increasing domestic spending caps, the Administration had planned to request only $23.75b, a 27 percent decrease from FY18’s budget of $32.71b.  In addition, the budget noted the need to streamline NIH administrative functions and integrate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, to reduce duplication and leverage the expertise of both agencies

The request includes $249m for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, a $97.7m cut from FY17 (note: this number reflects the Administration’s originally requested amount for NIBIB and may increase due to last week’s agreement to raise spending caps). 

National Science Foundation (NSF)
The FY19 request for the NSF totals $7.47b, flat funding compared to FY17. The administration had originally requested only $5.3b, a 30 percent cut, but the budget caps deal addendum added $2.2b. The president’s request increases Research & Related Activities funding by 2 percent, but cuts Major Research Equipment & Facilities Construction by 56-percent.  The request recommends flat funding for NSF’s Education & Human Resources account. 

For more information on President Trump’s FY19 budget request, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/


PRESIDENT RELEASES $1.5 TRILLION INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN TO MIXED REVIEWS

Accompanying the FY 2019 budget request, President Trump officially released his infrastructure plan earlier this week. Consistent with previous drafts, the proposal includes only $200 billion (b) in Federal funding, but aspires to generate a total of $1.5 trillion (t) in infrastructure investment by encouraging state, local, and private investment.

In addition to depending on non-federal sources for the vast majority funding, the administration has stated it plans to make up for the $200b federal spending increase through offsetting spending cuts in other infrastructure areas such as transit and transportation, further eroding the infrastructure investment value of the proposal.

As to the $1.3t in spending the plan is designed to incentive, the administration’s points to its proposal for a $100b grant competition with preference given to those applicants that can demonstrate revenue generating tactics, such as taxes, fees or tolls. The plan further stipulates that the Federal Government can sell “assets” such as Ronald Reagan and Dulles International Airports to state, local and private sector partners if they can indicate they would be better stewards of previously taxpayer funded infrastructure assets.

The plan has already been met with opposition on several fronts. With Federal deficits climbing to all-time highs, Republicans in Congress are wary of adding another $200b in spending while cutting back on existing critical infrastructure investments. Democrats were likewise wary, with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) noting that the budget calls for more than $240 billion in proposed infrastructure cuts over the coming decade — more than offsetting all newly proposed infrastructure spending. In addition, environmental groups took issue with the Administration’s proposal to expedite infrastructure projects, arguing that the plans stipulation to limit environmental assessments to one agency and two years would undermine the authority Federal agencies charged with stewarding public lands and other sensitive areas.

For more information on the president’s infrastructure package, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/building-stronger-america-president-donald-j-trumps-american-infrastructure-initiative/


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY OPENS PRIZE COMPETITION TO PARTNER INNOVATORS WITH MANUFACTURERS

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a call for solicitation of applications for its American Inventions Made Onshore (AIM Onshore) prize competition in conjunction with its Build4Scale Manufacturing Training. The competition is an initiative to strengthen ties between innovators who develop new technologies with manufacturers.

The goal of the competition is to link American technology inventors with domestic manufacturers who can bring that technology to market. This program is expected to be a two-way partnership, coupling inventors who may not be familiar with the necessary manufacturing channels, with industry representatives in search of the next big technological breakthrough. DOE Secretary Rick Perry explained, “The AIM Onshore prize competition and Build4Scale training will not only help to advance energy innovation, but will also help ensure that energy technologies invented in the United States are manufactured in the United States.”

Total funding for the initiative is $950,000. Four organizations will be selected and awarded an initial prize of $150,000 each. With this funding, the organizations will conduct the Build4Scale training for inventors and teach them how to meet manufacturers. The top two organizations whose trainings net the highest number of contracts between inventors and manufacturers, along with private stakeholder investment, will win an additional prize. The top organization will win $250,000, the second place organization will win $100,000. The other two organizations will not receive any additional awards.

For further information on the prize competition, rules, and eligibility requirements, click here: http://www.build4scale.org/


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ANNOUNCES FUNDING AWARDS FOR ADVANCED MANUFACTURING

The Department of Energy recently announced that it has awarded $35m to 24 projects to a variety of industry applicants, universities, and laboratories, for early-stage research in advanced manufacturing. This is thanks to a funding opportunity under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Advanced Manufacturing Office. The chosen projects run the gamut in terms of industry readiness; from beginning-stage concept identification and clarification that will produce more theoretical analysis, to more mature projects that will produce more concrete deliverables.

Despite the varied natures of the individual projects, through their research all projects must successfully “reduce technical uncertainty and develop new knowledge associated with potential breakthrough materials, processes, and tools...” How each project demonstrates success will vary based on the nature and research maturity stage.

Project awards vary from $250,000 to $2.5m based on the specific project.

To see the full list of selected projects, and learn more about them, click here: https://energy.gov/eere/amo/articles/emerging-research-exploration-project-descriptions

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.

ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 510
Washington, DC 20036
Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations

Paul Fakes is the Regulatory and Government Relations Manager, Technology Policy. He covers Standards and Energy and Environment.

Samantha Fijacko is the Senior Government Relations Representative. She covers Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and R&D.

Anne Nadler is the Government Relations Representative. She covers Bioengineering, STEM Education and R&D.