May 22, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:

 

HOUSE PASSES AMERICA COMPETES ACT; WHITE HOUSE ISSUES VETO THREAT

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization act of 2015, by a vote of 217-205 with 10 members not voting. The bill authorizes funding for basic energy research at the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as research in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, engineering and mathematics at the National Science Foundation (NSF), while keeping overall spending flat. The bill provides targeted increases for NSF research by over four percent; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by eight percent; and DOE’s Office of Science by over five percent above 2015 enacted levels.

However, the Obama Administration has issued a Statement of Administration Policy opposing H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, “which would undermine critical investments in science, technology, and research. The Administration believes that H.R. 1806 would be damaging to the Administration's actions to move American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth forward through a world-leading science, technology, and innovation enterprise. . . H.R. 1806 undermines key investments in science, technology, and innovation and imposes unnecessary and damaging requirements on Federal support of research. If the President were presented with H.R. 1806, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

The entire Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 1806 may be read at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/114/saphr1806r_20150518.pdf

More than three dozen organizations have filed letters outlining concerns with H.R. 1806. The Coalition for National Science Funding and the STEM Education Coalition, organizations to which ASME belongs, are among the organizations that submitted letters.  The ASME signed letters can be reviewed at https://www.asme.org/about-asme/get-involved/advocacy-government-relations/policy-publications/position-statements.  The full list of letters may be found at

http://democrats.science.house.gov/markup/hr-america-competes-reauthorization-act-2015

 

BIPARTISAN GROUP OF SENATORS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO ROLL BACK "CLEAN POWER PLAN"

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, introduced a bill that could be the principal legislative vehicle in the Senate to roll back President Obama’s “Clean Power Plan.”  A bipartisan group of six Senators joined Senator Capito at a press conference to unveil The Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA).

Key provisions of the bill would:

  • Prevent mandates for unproven technology;
  • Extend compliance dates;
  • Hold the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accountable to issue state-specific model plans demonstrating how each state could meet the required GHG emissions reductions under the rule;
  • Enable states to protect ratepayers; and,
  • Prevent the EPA from withholding highway funds from any states for noncompliance with the “Clean Power Plan.”

The ARENA Act, which takes into account EPA’s proposed regulations for both new and existing power plants, also requires EPA to submit to Congress a report describing the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions the “Clean Power Plan” is expected to reduce, and to conduct modeling to show the impacts of the rule on the climate indicators used to develop the rule.
 

To learn more about the ARENA Act and to view the bill, please visit: http://www.capito.senate.gov/sites/default/files/ARENA%20ACT%20ONE%20PAGER.pdf.

 

REPRESENTATIVES ELLMERS AND MCNERNEY INTRODUCE ELECTRIC GRID MODERNIZATION PACKAGE

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA) recently introduced H.R. 2244 and H.R. 2245 – two provisions to be included the House Energy & Commerce Committee's upcoming Architecture of Abundance Energy Package.

H.R. 2244, The Strategic Transformer Reserve Program, would require the Secretary of the Department of Energy to prepare and submit a plan to Congress that establishes a Strategic Transformer Reserve Program for the storage of spare large power transformers in strategically-located facilities and in sufficient numbers to temporarily replace critically-damaged large power transformers.

Because large power transformers are incredibly complex, each transformer is custom built to desired specifications. As they are not mass produced, the manufacturing and delivery of these transformers can take nearly a year.

Due to the difficulty and expenses involved in the production of large power transformers, the U.S. is not prepared to replace numerous transformers in the event of physical, cyber, electromagnetic pulse attack, geomagnetic disturbances, severe weather or seismic events. In order to ensure the U.S. can mitigate the loss of multiple transformers, we must have a temporary source of spare transformers strategically placed to maintain a secure, reliable and resilient electric grid.

To read H.R. 2244, The Strategic Transformer Reserve Program, go to: http://ellmers.house.gov/uploads/Large%20Power%20Transformer%20Bill%20H.R.%20version%202.pdf

The other bill, H.R. 2245, would include Smart Grid capable appliances to Energy Guide labels. This will benefit consumers by helping them directly monitor their energy consumption and provide them with the opportunity to lower the cost of their utility bill.

More information about H.R. 2245 can be found at: http://ellmers.house.gov/uploads/Smart%20Grid%20Energy%20Guide%20Label%20Bill%202.pdf

 

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE APPROVES FY 2016 COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE BILL

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill by voice vote. The bill funds the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies.

The legislation contains $51.4 billion in total discretionary funding, an increase of $1.3 billion over fiscal year 2015 and $661 million below the President's request for these programs. The bill prioritizes funding for law enforcement, national security, science, and space exploration programs.

Highlights of the legislation include the following:

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – NASA is funded at $18.5 billion in the bill, $519 million above the 2015 enacted level. This funding includes:
    • $4.8 billion for Exploration – $403 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. This includes funding to continue the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System flight program, and to continue progress in the commercial crew program.
    • $5.2 billion for NASA Science programs – $7 million below the 2015 enacted level. This includes funding above the President's request for planetary science to ensure the continuation of critical research and development programs.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – NIST is funded at $855 million in the bill, which is $9 million below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. Within this total, important core research activities are funded at $675 million to help advance U.S. competitiveness, innovation, and economic growth, and to improve cyber security.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) – The legislation funds NSF at $7.4 billion, an increase of $50 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. This funding is targeted to programs that foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, including funding for research on advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, neuroscience and STEM education.

The 100-page bill is available for review at:
http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-114hr-sc-ap-fy2016-cjs-subcommitteedraft.pdf

 

NSF ANALYSIS: LATEST FIGURES SHOW DECLINE IN FEDERAL FUNDING FOR R&D, EQUIPMENT, FACILITIES IN FY 2013

Federal agency funding for research and development (R&D) and R&D plant (facilities and fixed equipment used for R&D) fell by nine percent in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, according to a new InfoBrief from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

NCSES found that total federal agency obligations dropped from $141 billion to $127 billion between FY 2012 and FY 2013. Funding dropped by four percent for research, 14 percent for development and 11 percent for R&D plant, according to the NCSES report.

The FY 2013 figures represent the most recent actual data available. Estimates project that combined funding for R&D and R&D plant will rise by three percent ($4 billion) in fiscal 2014 and two percent ($3 billion) in fiscal 2015.

Changes in agency obligation levels between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013 include the following:

  • 14 percent drop ($10 billion) at the Department of Defense, which accounted for just over half of all federal R&D obligations in FY 2013;
  • Six percent drop ($2 billion) at the Department of Health and Human Services, which accounted for 23 percent of federal R&D obligations;
  • Three percent drop at NASA, which accounted for eight percent of federal R&D obligations;
  • One percent drop at the Department of Energy, which accounted for eight percent of federal R&D obligations; and,
  • Four percent drop at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which accounted for four percent of federal R&D obligations.

NCSES found that federal obligations for basic research declined by four percent. Basic research obligations are estimated to increase by six percent in FY 2014, then decrease by less than one percent in FY 2015.

The report may be read at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/research-and-development/ under “Issue Reports”.

 

NIST ISSUES NOTICE OF INTENT TO ISSUE TWO FUTURE FEDERAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR MEP CENTERS

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works with small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers to help them promote regional economic growth and job creation, while helping to save businesses time and money. The nationwide network provides a variety of services, from innovation strategies to process improvements to green manufacturing. MEP also works with partners at the state and federal levels on programs that put manufacturers in position to develop new and/or expand into new markets and create new products.

MEP intends to publish and post two separate announcements of funding availability for MEP Centers in calendar year 2016: 

  • NIST MEP anticipates announcing the competitions for approximately 11 states in January 2016, with new MEP Center cooperative agreement awards anticipated to start in October 2016. States involved are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and Vermont.
  • NIST MEP anticipates announcing the competitions for an additional 11 states in July 2016, with new MEP Center cooperative agreement awards anticipated to start in April 2017. States involved are: Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

The list of specific states may change from time to time until finalized in the announcements of funding availability. In addition, NIST MEP plans to conduct approximately two to three regional forums prior to or in conjunction with each publication of these announcements.  These forums will provide general information regarding MEP and offer general guidance on preparing proposals.

To read the announcement, please visit: http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/manufacturing-innovation-competitiveness/ and look under “Regulations and Announcements”.

 

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

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