January 13, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


ASME GOVERNMENT RELATIONS WEBINAR HIGHLIGHTING ASME FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FELLOWSHIPS IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING

ASME has the unique distinction of being the very first engineering/scientific society to have the vision to establish a Congressional fellowship program. For the past 43 years, ASME has provided a valuable service to the nation by sponsoring over 100 Federal Fellows who served in the Executive and Legislative Branch. ASME Federal Government Fellowships have enabled selected ASME members to devote a year working in government providing engineering and technical advice to policy makers in Congress, federal agencies, and the White House. This premier program serves as a testament to ASME’s long-standing commitment to national security, national issues and the continuing development of the engineering profession.
Lester Su, Ph.D., Chair of the ASME Committee on Government Relations, moderated the session and was joined by the following two Fellows who described what they have learned about public policy making as it relates to the manufacturing and energy, as well as answered questions about this invaluable fellowship opportunity:

  • Noël Bakhtian, Ph.D. served as a 2016 ASME Foundation Swanson Fellow at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy in the environment and energy division.
  • Said Jahanmir, Ph.D. who is currently serving as a 2015-17 ASME Congressional Fellow for the Honorable Tim Ryan (D-OH).

In order to view the webinar, you must first be registered on ASME.org. To register, visit https://shop.asme.org/Registrations/Conference/FNDWEB2016-2  

Once registered, visit the webinar’s login page at: (https://login.asme.org/SingleSignOnV2/login.aspx?ApplicationID=b611004b-1d28-4886-ba07-56fb25b5d9d8&EventID=1707) , and enter your e-mail address and password and proceed to the webinar page. (Note: It may take up to 24 hours after your initial registration to be able to login to watch the webinar.)

Additionally, ASME is currently taking applications until January 31, 2017 to become an ASME Fellow. For more information, please visit: http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/energy-news/engineer-the-greater-good-apply-for-a-2017-2018-asme-congressional-fellowship/


AMERICAN INNOVATION AND COMPETITIVENESS ACT SIGNED INTO LAW

On Friday, January 6, 2017, the President signed into law S. 3084, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA Act), which amends and establishes new authorities for various programs at the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education authorities. It strengthens research and development and boosts manufacturing, and was originally introduced in a bipartisan fashion by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), along with John Thune (R-SD), and Bill Nelson (D-FL). 

As the first major update to federal research and technology policy to originate in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in more than a decade, this legislation maximizes basic research opportunities, reduces administrative burdens for researchers, encourages scientific entrepreneurship, and promotes oversight of taxpayer-funded research. The legislation also promotes diversity in STEM fields, incentivizes private-sector innovation, and aims to improve advanced manufacturing and the Holdings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a public-private partnership to support small and medium-sized manufacturers.

The majority of the changes to the MEP program were with the required non-Federal cost share. Previously, the non-Federal cost sharing requirements under the MEP Program were at least 50 percent (1:1 cost share) of the total project costs for each of the first through the third year of an MEP award, with an increase to 60 percent minimum non-Federal cost share contribution in year 4, and 67 percent minimum non-Federal cost share contribution years 5 and beyond. However, under the new AICA Act, all MEP Centers, regardless of maturity, are now eligible for the 1:1 cost share.

For more information, go to: http://bit.ly/2iRhCiI


CONGRESS FAILS TO PASS ENERGY POLICY BILL

Prior to the adjournment of the 114th Congress, the House and Senate failed to reach a compromise on a sweeping energy policy bill with numerous R&D-related provisions on energy, energy infrastructure and supply, natural resources development and other areas. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the bill’s lead sponsor in the Senate, accused the House at that time of ignoring the Senate’s final negotiation efforts and then adjourning prematurely.

However, there is a lack of clarity of what the contentious points were that prevented further movement since a compromise bill was never released. It is known that the House wanted to reduce the authorized funding levels for the Office of Science’s Biological and Environmental Research Program, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, as well as to include all the Department of Energy provisions related to the House’s America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 led by House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX).

So now the effort begins to revive a version of this energy policy bill in the new 115th Congress. Significant changes are anticipated with the Republican control of the White House as well as both chambers of Congress. There is even the thought that the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency should become one agency as touted by House Energy and Commerce Committee member Kevin Cramer (R-ND).

Additional energy policy information can be found on the Energy page of the ASME Public Policy Education Center, http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy.


ENERGY DEPARTMENT LAUNCHES NEW MANUFACTURING USA INSTITUTE FOCUSED ON RECYCLING AND REUSING MATERIALS

As part of the Manufacturing USA initiative, the Energy Department has announced a new Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute, headquartered in New York state and led by the Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation Alliance. 

Leveraging up to $70 million in federal funding, subject to Congressional appropriations, and matched by $70 million in private cost-share commitments, the REMADE Institute has the goal of reducing the cost of technologies needed to reuse, recycle and remanufacture materials and to achieve a 50 percent improvement in overall energy efficiency by 2027.

The REMADE Institute is a prime example of how public-private partnerships are critical to advancing America’s low-carbon economy and strengthening manufacturing industries across the country, according to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “This Institute will be an important catalyst to leverage innovation and energy efficient technologies that will reduce harmful emissions while creating jobs and building America’s 21st century economy.”

Additional information can be found at:: http://bit.ly/2iURzVc


FINAL OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PCAST MEETING HELD, EXIT MEMOS OF TOP CABINENT OFFICIALS SUMMARIZE THEIR WORK ON ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, AND MANUFACTURING

President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) held its final meeting in early January and considered a new report on maintaining U.S. competitiveness in the semiconductor industry, a biennial review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), and an addendum to PCAST’s forensic science report. The semiconductor report focused on an increased emphasis on “moonshot” innovation goals around innovation activities in academia, industry and government laboratories. As for the NNI initiative, PCAST recommended two new nanotechnology grand challenges and no change in policy for NNI.
Under President–elect Trump, PCAST’s future is unknown. Thus far, every president has reconstituted the council by executive order and appointed members from outside the U.S. Government with the president’s science advisor serving as co-chair.

For more information about this PCAST meeting, please visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/pcast

As President Obama’s administration winds down, his top Cabinet officials have also summarized their activities in exit memos. For example, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s exit memo published on January 5th speaks to investments that have contributed to more than 15 million private-sector jobs created and in 2014 alone, clean energy investment increased by 14 percent, a rate five times that of the rest of the U.S. economy.

Another exit memo from the Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx speaks to working with the automobile and technology industries to shape policies to ensure safe deployment of autonomous and connected vehicles and the production of the Department of Transportation’s Federal Automated Vehicle Policy, which provides a proactive and unprecedented policy framework for the safe integration of self-driving vehicles.
Links to these the aforementioned exit memos that deal with issues of vital interest to ASME are available at: http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/exit-memos-of-top-cabinet-officials-available/


CRS REPORT: U.S., CHINA TRADE ISSUES IMPACT ON MANUFACTURING AND CLEAN ENERGY AND OTHER AREAS

The Congressional Research Service recently issued a report (RL 33536) providing background and analysis of U.S.-China (People’s Republic of China) commercial ties, including history, trends, issues, and outlook that touch on areas such as robotics, cybersecurity, clean energy, and manufacturing. A major point of contention has been the impact of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s imports on U.S. employment, and the report provides analysis on this topic.

The report also highlighted the PRC’s Made in China 2015 program, which is split into four key categories: innovation, quality efficiency, smart manufacturing, and green development. There are nine priority tasks laid out in the document, which include: improving manufacturing innovation, integrating technology and industry, strengthening green manufacturing, promoting breakthroughs in ten key sectors, advancing restructuring of the manufacturing sector, promoting manufacturing-related service industries, and internationalizing manufacturing.

The ten Made in China 2015 key sectors are: new information technology, numerical control tools and robotics, aerospace equipment, ocean engineering equipment and high-end vessels, high-end rail transportation equipment, energy saving and new energy vehicles, electrical equipment, and agricultural machinery. These are also areas in which the U.S. seeks to remain a top competitor..

To read the full Congressional Research Report, please visit: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33536.pdf


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