July 17, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:


On July 15, the ASME Committee on Government Relations hosted the second in a series of webcasts to provide the ASME membership more insight into ASME’s public policy priorities and recent happenings on Capitol Hill and with the Administration. Manufacturing is a matter of fundamental importance for economic strength and national security. More than any other industry, a globally competitive manufacturing sector translates inventions, research discoveries, and new ideas into better or novel products or processes. This webinar provided attendees with a briefing on the game-changing U.S. federal government initiatives, public-private partnerships, and opportunities in advanced manufacturing, with a focus on the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership recommendations detailed in their report on Accelerating U.S. Advanced Manufacturing. 

Gloria Wiens, Ph.D., was the featured speaker. She has been serving as an ASME Foundation Swanson Fellow in the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office since September 2013. Dr. Wiens is an associate professor and the director of the Space, Automation, and Manufacturing Mechanisms (SAMM) Laboratory at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Her research interests include robotics; spatial mechanisms; system dynamics and controls with applications in space; reconfigurable micro/small satellite deployable systems; automation; MEMS/biomedical devices; and micro/mesoscale manipulation and manufacturing. Her teaching focuses on dynamics and controls of robotic systems; kinematics and dynamics of machinery; and vibrations and controls.

Kalan Guiley, Chair of the Government Relations Committee, also was one of the speakers, and provided attendees with further insight into the ASME federal fellow program and the new Public Policy Education Center (ppec.asme.org).

To listen to the archived webcast, or view the speaker presentation, please visit: http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/competitiveness-news/register-for-the-asme-public-policy-webinars-scheduled-for-june-24th-and-july-15th-1200pm-est/


On July 9th, the White House hosted the Supply Chain Innovation Roundtable, a gathering of leaders from over 20 manufacturers and suppliers committed to strengthening small manufacturers in their domestic supply chains.

Announcements from that event included:

  • Executives from major manufacturers are committed to strengthening the smaller firms that power their U.S. supply chains, making America more competitive in advanced manufacturing.
  • The Departments of Energy, Defense, Commerce, and the Small Business Administration are helping more than 40,000 small manufacturers leverage federal innovation assets to upgrade their capabilities, adopt new technologies, and unlock new business opportunities
  • The Department of Energy will provide $20 million in new innovation vouchers to small businesses to access technologies and capabilities at five of its National Labs. 
  • This October, the White House, working with mayors and governors, will expand regional efforts to link businesses with Federal, state, and local innovation assets.
  • The Department of Defense is awarding supply chain grants to strengthen and diversify regional supply chains in New Mexico, Wisconsin, and South Carolina, with a total of over $50 million to supply chains in 20 states being awarded this year. 
  • The Small Business Administration is launching a new supply chain matching service to help small manufacturers access new business opportunities.
  • The Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership is scaling up its Supply Chain Optimization Service to strengthen supply chains across all 50 states.

A fact sheet on the event detailing the specifics of each of the above-referenced initiatives may be viewed at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/09/fact-sheet-convening-manufacturing-leaders-strengthen-innovative


Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI), members of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, will lead the effort to gather input from the U.S. science and research community and other interested parties on federal research and development (R&D) policy priorities. The Commerce Committee is seeking a bipartisan path for reauthorizing federal research and development programs carried out by agencies last authorized by the COMPETES Act.

The COMPETES Acts of 2007 and 2010 served as the authorizing vehicles for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), and also set policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). No legislative reauthorization of agency priorities has been enacted into law since COMPETES 2010.

Beginning this month, Senators Gardner and Peters will lead participants in a series of meetings and briefings related to reauthorization. Topics will include:

  • Maximizing basic research;
  • Improving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education research and practices for students; and,
  • Translating federal research results into innovative commercial applications for the benefit of the economy and society.

Members of the public and interested groups seeking to provide input are invited to submit information via SciencePolicy@commerce.senate.gov.  Submissions are requested by no later than Friday, August 21st.


On July 8th, House of Representatives approved the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) on a party-line vote of 218-213. The legislation would replace the current K-12 education law, No Child Left Behind, with conservative reforms that would reduce the federal role and ensure local control.

The Student Success Act as passed by the House includes the following provisions:

  • Replaces the current national accountability system with state-led accountability systems, returning responsibility for measuring student and school performance to states and school districts;
  • Protects state and local autonomy over decisions in the classroom by preventing the Secretary of Education from encouraging states into adopting Common Core or any other common standards or assessments, as well as reining in the secretary’s regulatory authority;
  • Eliminates 69 ineffective, duplicative programs and replaces them with a Local Academic Flexible Grant to help schools better support students;
  • Empowers parents with more school choice options by continuing support for magnet schools and expanding charter school opportunities, as well as allowing Title I funds to follow low-income children to the traditional public or charter school of the parent’s choice;

To learn more about the Student Success Act at: http://edworkforce.house.gov/studentsuccessact/

On July 7, the Senate also began its consideration of its NCLB overhaul bill, the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177). This bipartisan bill, championed by Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), allowed for a fairly open amendment process, and has been debated on the Senate floor for the past two weeks. A final vote is expected late Thursday night after press time. A more detailed of the Senate bill will be provided in the next issue of Capitol Update.


On July 10th, the House Science Subcommittee on Space held a hearing to examine the current status of the International Space Station (ISS) and evaluate the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) plans for dealing with operational and maintenance challenges. Witnesses at the hearing also discussed the status of the ISS partnership, how NASA is utilizing the ISS to enable future deep space exploration, and the Administration’s request to extend ISS operations to 2024.

Since 2013, the ISS program has experienced a number of challenges. Astronauts have experienced water leaks in their suits three times, with one incident occurring during a spacewalk. On April 26, 2013, an unmanned Russian Progress cargo vehicle damaged a laser radar reflector when docking with the ISS. On January 14, 2015, a false alarm of an ammonia leak caused the crew to retreat into the Russian segment.

Cargo supply missions have also faced challenges. On October 28, 2014, an Orbital Science’s unmanned cargo launch failed just after launch. On April 28, 2015, a separate Russian Progress cargo vehicle failed to reach the ISS.  On June 7, 2015, a planned re-boost of the ISS using a docked Progress vehicle failed but eventually was successful after troubleshooting.  On June 10, 2015, a visiting Soyuz vehicle unexpectedly fired its engines without being commanded.  Most recently, on June 28, 2015, a SpaceX unmanned cargo launch failed as well.

Members and witnesses noted these challenges at Friday’s hearing and pointed to the program’s effective response as a testament to NASA, ISS partners, and contractors.

Additional information on the hearing, including the prepared statements of the witnesses and an archived webcast of the event, is available at: http://science.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-space-hearing-international-space-station-addressing-operational-challenges


U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) led a bipartisan letter, signed by 46 Senators, urging the leaders of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to recognize the clear benefits of forest bioenergy in federal policy. Signatories of the letter include 46 U.S. Senators.

The letter calls on regulators to support biomass energy as a “sustainable, responsible, renewable, and economically significant energy source.” It also calls for federal policies across all departments and agencies to be consistent and to reflect the carbon neutrality of forest bioenergy.

The full text of the letter is available at:  http://www.collins.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/b91ae593-5004-4009-a3ba-48c972c7a3fc/Biomass%20Letter%20to%20EPA%20USDA%20DOE_6-30-15.pdf

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

  • Senators Divided Over Tax Extenders Strategy Ahead of Markup
  • BLM Director Defends Hydraulic Fracturing Rule at House Hearing
  • Disputed Patent Bill Pulled from House Floor
  • OMB Pushes for Sequester Relief in Mid-Year Budget Review

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Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations