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                                 January 19, 2018



President Trump says he would sign legislation to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries from deportation and ensure Temporary Protected Status for people admitted because of unsafe conditions in their home countries--both for three years--in exchange for the $5.7 billion he wants for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, CQ reports. "Democratic leaders, however, rejected Trump's proposal based on initial reports, even before his 4 p.m. announcement. They said Trump first needs to re-open the government before talks can resume, and that permanent protections for the Dreamers and others should be part of any deal that provides full funding for the border wall Trump wants."

HOUSE MOVES ON BIPARTISAN SPENDING BILLS: The House plans to vote next week on a package of six bipartisan FY 2019 spending bills agreed upon in December by House and Senate negotiators. This step means that once a deal is struck between President Trump and congressional Democrats, most of the government could be funded through Sept. 30 with amounts set and instructions spelled out by appropriators in the last Congress.

As of now, those bills won't go anywhere after the House votes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refuses to bring spending measures to the Senate floor unless the president is prepared to sign them--which he's not, without wall funding. Lewis-Burke Associates reports: "It is likely that when there is a deal to end the partial shutdown, this previously agreed-upon package will be the vehicle. However, there is always a chance that when negotiations re-start, these funding levels and policy details could be re-visited."

The compromise would provide $8,075 billion for the National Science Foundation, a 4 percent increase over FY 2018; $21.5 billion for NASA; an increase of 3.7 percent; $5.4 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (a 2.3 percent decrease); $1.02 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (a 14.9 percent decrease); $1.7 billion for the Agricultual Research Service (a 25 percent increase); and $1.47 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (4.5 percent increase).

See more budget numbers and an analysis by Lewis-Burke. A House Appropriations press release contains links to conference reports for all six bills. 

NEW SATELLITE STILL A PROBLEM: The appropriators' conference report for NASA expresses "profound disappointment" over the James Webb Space Telescope, blasting the space agency and contractors for "mismanagement, complete lack of careful oversight, and overall poor basic workmanship." They "seem to believe that congressional funding for this project and other development efforts is an entitlement." The lawmakers nonetheless increased the spending cap and agreed to fund the full amount sought by NASA for the troubled program, Space News reports


STILL OPEN, BUT DISRUPTED: The record-long, ongoing partial government shutdown is hampering the work of some science agencies and affiliated contractors that weren't forced to close, ScienceInsider reports. The Universities Space Research Association . . . notified the 181 postdoctoral fellows it funds at five NASA research centers that they had to go on unpaid leave" because NASA can't make payments to the nonprofit. USRA is offering the postdocs interest-free loans. The National Institutes of Health has had trouble publishing notice of upcoming proposal review meetings in the Federal Register because the Register's parent agency is closed. It has "had to reschedule at least three peer review panels, and is scrambling to avoid moving others," The House Science Committee reports hearing that many Department of Energy employees have been ordered to cancel travel. Press reports say the ban affects the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. 

CLIMATE THREATS TO U.S. BASES: "More than two-thirds of the military’s operationally critical installations are threatened by climate change," the Military Times reports. It cites a new congressionally mandated report that was provided to the Hill but not released by the Pentagon until it appeared elsewhere. Assessing 79 installations, "the services reported that 53 of the 79 faced current threats from flooding; 43 of the 79 face current threats from drought and 36 of the 79 faced current threats from wildfires." Separately, the General Accounting Office examined how the administration is dealing with the nexus of climate change and migration, finding that the State Department, USAID, and DOD "haven’t focused on the link."

THE IMPACT OF ED's 'RETHINK': Two white papers issued by the Department of Education "provide insights into efforts ED will undertake in the next two years of this Administration. Their influence is already being seen in the proposed regulatory revisions ED provided for the negotiated rulemaking sessions that begin this month," Lewis-Burke Associates writes in a new analysis. They "could have important impacts on institutions in several areas including accreditation, financial aid, and regulatory oversight and compliance.reports."

TURBINE R&D: The Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy has up to $6 million for "university-based R&D projects that address and resolve scientific challenges and applied engineering technology issues associated with the performance and efficiency of combustion turbines in fossil fuel power generation. Projects will support DOE’s University Turbine Systems Research program." Learn more.

POST-TRAUMA SURVIVAL: The National Institutes of Health plans a workshop at its Bethesda, Md. campus March 21 and 22 on Innovations in Technologies to Extend the Golden Hour. That's the critical first 60 minutes following a traumatic injury. Attendees will discuss such topics as organ support, radiation exposure, burn and wound healing, hemostatic medical devices, portable imaging technologies, and wearable biosensors. Learn more

BETTER TOOLS FOR MEDICAL OFFICES: NIH’s Point-of-Care Technology Research Network "drives the development of point-of-care technologies through collaborative efforts that merge scientific and technological capabilities with clinical need." Learn about new solicitations from its four centers.

HOW DO INSECTS COMPUTE? The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is issuing an Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) opportunity inviting submissions of innovative basic research concepts exploring new computational frameworks and strategies drawn from the impressive computational capabilities of very small flying insects for whom evolutionary pressures have forced scale/size/energy reduction without loss of performance. Learn more. 


“R&D expenditures funded from universities' own sources reached $18.9 billion in FY 2017. This total accounted for 25.1% of total higher education R&D and 54.0% of total nonfederal funding. Both shares are virtually unchanged since FY 2016 and remain the largest since the advent of the survey. Almost two-thirds of institutional spending ($12.1 billion) came from direct funding of R&D activities through the universities' own research accounts. Unrecovered indirect costs (the amount of indirect costs that are not reimbursed to the institution for externally funded R&D) totaled $5.2 billion in FY 2017, and cost sharing commitments accounted for $1.6 billion. All of these totals increased from FY 2016, equaling an overall growth of 5.1%.”

Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey.

Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey


WE NEED CHEAPER BRIDGES: A National Academies panel urges the U.S. Department of Transportation and state departments of transportation to "consider sponsoring research to develop and evaluate innovative approaches to reducing the costs of highway bridges, Objectives include long-term monitoring of durability, performance, and costs of materials and technologies with standard procedures for inspection of the materials developed in conjunction with monitoring studies, and optimized designs and standardization for advanced materials to maximize the cost savings." The panel says innovation programs administered by the Federal Highway Administration's Center for Accelerating "have accelerated the adoption of new technology." Read the report.



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