May 1, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:



The House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which now heads to the House floor for consideration. The legislation provides annual funding for national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, various programs under the Department of Energy (DOE), and other related agencies.

The bill totals $35.4 billion – $1.2 billion above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $633 million below the President’s request. Additional information on H.R. 2028 is may be viewed at:

The Office of Management and Budget issued a Statement of Administration Policy on the bill saying, in part, “The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2028... The bill drastically underfunds critical investments that develop American energy sources to build a clean and secure energy future... As a result, it would put at risk U.S. competitiveness in new markets for clean energy industries such as advanced vehicles, advanced manufacturing, energy efficiency for homes and businesses, and domestic renewable energy such as wind, solar, and biomass... If the President were presented with H.R. 2028, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

To read the entire Statement of Administration Policy, visit:



House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has announced the Committee will mark up the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017. The legislation would support NASA’s role as a multi-mission agency with programs in science, aeronautics, exploration, and human spaceflight, and make travel to Mars NASA’s primary goal.

The NASA Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017 is a two-year, budget-neutral bill that continues to fund a stepping stone approach to exploration. The bill’s policy provisions largely mirror that of the House-passed NASA Authorization Act of 2015, a one year bill that passed with unanimous bipartisan support in February 2015.

The new bill focuses NASA’s efforts to develop a capability to access the International Space Station so that “we 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 provides authorization levels consistent with NASA’s budget request, providing that current restraints within the Budget Control Act are satisfied.

Additional information on the bill is available at:



The Department of Energy (DOE) announced the release of the “2014 Hydropower Market Report,” the first ever report to quantify the current size, scope, and variability of the nation’s hydropower supplies. Hydropower currently provides approximately seven percent of the U.S. electricity supply – enough to power more than 20 million homes, and has experienced significant growth industry-wide. Within the last decade, the industry has supported more than 55,000 direct domestic jobs across the country, and helped offset 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions per year, equivalent to the emissions from more than 42 million passenger vehicles. The report also highlights how hydropower can be rapidly integrated with other renewable energy sources into the electric grid – contributing to the Administration’s goal of doubling the nation’s renewable energy supply again by 2020.

The “2014 Hydropower Market Report” highlights the investment of more than $6 billion throughout the last decade to strengthen the existing hydropower fleet and the economic benefits that have resulted from support of the industry. Today, the hydropower manufacturing supply chain spreads across 38 states, with more than 170 companies producing one or more of six major hydropower components: turbines, generators, transformers, penstocks, gates, and valves.

Presenting a unique analysis of the current project development pipeline in the hydropower sector, this report shows that America has more than 77 gigawatts (GW) of untapped hydropower resource potential, and will continue to innovate to help unleash that potential. By making use of existing water resources and infrastructure, the vast majority of new hydropower projects built over the last decade have added electric generating equipment to dams that were previously not powered. The current hydropower development pipeline contains a diverse mixture of projects proposed at non-powered dams, conduits, and previously undeveloped rivers and streams.

Review the report at under Issue Reports.



Does the United States have a "glut" or "shortage" of STEM workers? It's a question that has long permeated policy conversations about the U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce. But is this the right question to ask?

Revisiting the STEM Workforce, a new report by the National Science Board (NSB), offers insights about long-standing workforce debates and seeks to catalyze constructive policy discussions about this critical and dynamic component of the nation's economy. Drawing on its biennial Science and Engineering Indicators report, the NSB's latest report highlights the growing need for STEM knowledge and skills in a 21st Century economy.

In 2010, 16.5 million individuals--including many in non-STEM jobs, such as sales, marketing and management--reported that their job required at least a bachelor's degree level of science and engineering (S&E) expertise. This represents about three times the number of individuals working in occupations classified as S&E (5.4 million).

The report underscores that a consensus definition of the STEM workforce does not exist. Depending on the definition used, today's STEM workforce includes employees across a wide swath of disciplines and job arenas, possessing everything from non-degree certifications to Ph.D.s in STEM fields. It can even include individuals without a STEM degree who work in STEM jobs. Each adds value to the U.S. economy in some way--whether through traditional R&D activity, applying STEM knowledge and skills in a variety of settings to devise or adopt innovations, or using those knowledge and skills to complete occupational tasks.

Review the 46-page report at under Issue Reports.



The majority of the nation's federally funded R&D centers (FFRDCs) reported spending less on research and development in fiscal year 2013 than they had the previous year, according to a new InfoBrief from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

The report details that the 40 federally-funded centers spent $16.9 billion on research and development in fiscal year 2013. Of those, 24 reported declines from Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, and 17 reported two straight years of decreased spending.

Federal funding for the centers has been declining since a high of $18 billion in total spending was reported in FY 2010. That peak corresponded with the one-time American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which accounted for more than $1 billion of federal R&D expenditures to FFRDCs in fiscal year 2010. In contrast, ARRA-funded expenditures to all FFRDCs combined amounted to $170 million in fiscal year 2013, or one percent of federal R&D expenditures.

Basic research accounted for 24.8 percent of total FFRDC research and development expenditures in fiscal year 2013, a significant drop from the reported 35.2-percent share for the previous year. A major contributor to that decrease was a re-evaluation of the reported distribution of activities by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Five of the 40 laboratories--Los Alamos, Sandia, Oak Ridge, Lawrence Livermore and the NASA-sponsored Jet Propulsion Laboratory--account for half of the total reported R&D spending.

FFRDCs are privately operated organizations that the government funds exclusively or substantially. Since 2001, federal funding accounted for over 96 percent of their total R&D spending.

See more from this report, Majority of Federally Funded R&D Centers Report Declines in R&D Spending in FY 2013, at under Issue Reports.


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