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                                     April 28, 2018



Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told reporters this week that, based on his conversations with White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, (right), "he believed $25 billion would be the 'ceiling' for any package" of rescissions proposed by the administration, Huffington Post reports. Rescissions would cut into discretionary spending in the $1.3 trillion FY 2018 omnibus appropriations bill signed earlier this year. Cole chairs the appropriations subcommittee that funds the National Institutes of Health. But Huffpost says the expected White House move "could still undermine bipartisan negotiations on next year’s appropriations bills, as well as hold up agency spending over cuts that most lawmakers don’t believe will ever be enacted." Mulvaney met Friday on Capitol Hill with House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.). “We’re probably going to start meeting on the details early next week,” Mulvaney told The Hill newspaper.

INCREASES SOUGHT BY R&D GROUPS: The Coalition for Aerospace and Science is seeking a 5 percent hike for NASA in FY 2019 above what lawmakers provided for FY 2018. Other requests are closer to 4 percent. See all coalition letters on the Association of American Universities website.   

HOUSE GOP SEEKS QUICK ACTION: The chamber's Republicans are discussing a plan to "put the less contentious fiscal 2019 appropriations bills on the floor" and whisk them through both House and Senate prior to Congress's August recess, CQ reports. The Energy and Water spending bill, which funds the Department of Energy and Army Corps of Engineers, could be among measures seeking early passage. It's up for subcommittee action on May 7. 

I-CORPS EXPANSION CLEARS HOUSE: The Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act, passed 379 - 16, directs the National Science Foundation to develop a course to help researchers-turned-entrepreneurs attract investors, scale up a company, and build a brand. The course is intended for those who have already participated in I-Corps and whose innovations are ready to be commercialized. It would be offered by I-Corps' regional nodes. 

R&D PROVISIONS IN FAA BILL: The reauthorization measure, which passed the House overwhelmingly, would provide up to $181 million as part of its FAA Leadership in Groundbreaking High-Tech Research and Development title, including $128.5 million for safety R&D. The bill also includes a "sense of Congress" that "public and private education institutions should partner with aviation and aerospace companies to promote career paths available within the industry . . . (and the) Federal Government should consider the needs of men and women interested in pursuing careers in the aviation and aerospace industry, the long-term personnel needs of the aviation and aerospace industry, and the role of aviation in the United States economy in the creation and administration of educational and financial aid programs."

The Trump administration weighs in on some provisions it disagrees with.


COURT LEANS IN FAVOR OF TRAVEL BAN:  The New York Times reports that the U.S. Supreme Court's five-member conservative majority appears "ready to approve a revised version of the president’s plan," discounting President Trump's characterization of it as a Muslim ban "while giving him the benefit of the doubt traditionally afforded to presidents." Questioning "was almost uniformly hostile to the ban’s opponents." A decision is expected in June. The Association of American Universities and 31 other organizations have expressed "deep concern" about the ban in an amicus brief to the Court.

JUDGE DELAYS AN END TO DACA: There are still signs of life left in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order, which protects illegal immigrants brought here as children. A federal judge in Washington held that the Department of Homeland Security "failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful." He gave the department 90 days to come up with a better explanation.

STREAMLINING TECH TRANSFER: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is "initiating an effort to refocus Federal technology transfer on sound business principles based on private investment." Its goal is to " streamline and accelerate transfer of technology from Federal R&D investments to attract greater private-sector investment for innovative products, processes, and services, as well as new businesses and industries that will create jobs, grow the economy, and enhance national security. NIST seeks public comment.


Source: Federal R&D Funding, by Budget Function: Fiscal Years 2016–18, Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 18-308 | April 2018

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF). 


EDUCATORS PROTEST END TO SECURITY DIALOGUE: In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the American Council on Education expresses dismay that the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board (NSHEAB) has been disbanded. The board served as "an important forum for discussion of national security issues between leaders of the higher education community and federal agencies, including the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the Office of National Intelligence, and the Department of Defense." The letter goes on: "We also are cognizant of your own recently expressed security concerns regarding Chinese students at U.S. universities and colleges. While we believe that international students and scholars contribute much to our country, we are anxious to do our part to ensure that America’s security is protected." The House Science Committee recently held a hearing, “Scholars and Spies: Foreign Plots Targeting America’s Research and Development.”

EUROPE EYES ETHICS OF AI: The European Commission today announced that it would devote €1.5 billion to artificial intelligence research funding until 2020, ScienceInsider reports. "It also said it would present ethical guidelines on AI development by the end of the year, suggesting that Europe could become a precautionary counterweight to its global rivals in a field that has raised fears about a lack of fairness and transparency even as it has made great advances."

See a new Congressional Research Service report on Changes in the Arctic.

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