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                                    May 25, 2019



That sanguine comment by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), quoted by CQ, suggests congressional leaders and the White House will overcome this week's failure to reach a two-year budget budget deal. But the administration sent mixed signals on its willingness to compromise. On one hand, President Trump agreed to a disaster relief package that included money for Puerto Rico, which he had opposed, and omitted funding he wanted for border security. Meanwhile, acting Budget Director Russell Vought (near right photo) staked out a tougher stance in four letters to House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). Each stated, "We are strongly opposed to the budgetary framework" her panel is using, which Vought said would "add nearly $2 trillion to deficits over 10 years." That helps explain why Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), middle photo, said this week's talks didn't adequately address the "needs of the middle class on the domestic side." The Senate has yet to produce an appropriation measure.

QUANTUM, CYBER, DIVERSITY: These are among House appropriators' priorities in proposing increase for the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Their report: says quantum information science and technology promise "to yield revolutionary  new  approaches  to  computing,  sensing  and  communication." The panel wants to see "tremendous  leaps  in  computational  simulation,  including  artificial  intelligence,  storage,  quantum  computing,  and  data  analyses." The lawmakers commend NSF's mid-scale research and Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering  and Science (INCLUDES) initiatives. Providing $40 million more than in FY 2019 for NSF's Education and Human Resources directorate, they stress the importance of minority-serving institutions. "The  Committee  encourages  NSF  to  continue  to  use  research  infrastructure  improvement grants, co-funding  programs,  and   other   innovative   mechanisms   to   boost  (historically black colleges and universities') participation  and  capacity  throughout  NSF  research  programs." NSF should "form  partnerships  with  Hispanic  Serving  Institutions  and (HBCUs)  with  respect  to  cybersecurity  research" and use  the  CyberCorps  Faculty  Fellows  pilot  program  to  address  the  "critical  shortage"  of  cybersecurity  faculty. The panel is also "aware  of  the  shortage  in  trained  bioprocessing  engineers,  scientists  and  technicians."

CHINA WATCH: Appropriators require "a  quarterly  report  from  the  Department  of  Commerce,  the  National  Aeronautics  and  Space  Administration,  and the National Science Foundation on official travel to China." Reuters reports that a group of Republicans has introduced legislation requiring the government "to create a list of scientific and engineering institutions affiliated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, and prohibit anyone employed or sponsored by those institutions from receiving visas."

NEXT-GEN OFFSHORE WIND: In funding the Department of Energy's research programs, House appropriators want to see DOE expand  on 2016 National  Offshore  Wind  strategy. They also favor marine  and  hydrokinetic  R&D, research, advancing battery technology and thermal desalination, photo-voltaic R&D, and concentrating solar power. The panel remains enthusiastic about advanced manufacturing. See the Energy & Water report:

Also see a detailed analysis by Lewis-Burke Associates of the Labor HHS appropriation, which includes the National Institutes of Health. The American Association for the Advancement of Science also gives a rundown of various appropriations bills.  

A 'STRONG AND RESPONSIVE RESEARCH ENTERPRISE': The Senate Armed Services Committee says its proposed $750 billion FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act "prioritizes investments in research and engineering, which are particularly critical given the scope and pace of our competitors’ and adversaries’ capabilities." Among other R&D projects, the bill directs the Pentagon to establish a program on national security threats posed by emerging biotechnologies. The measure is $17 billion higher than what the House Armed Services panel is drafting. See a committee Summary and a report by Defense News.

DEFENSE SPENDING BILL - A MIXED PICTURE: AAAS notes that the House appropriations increases overall military R&D by 4.7 percent above FY 2019 levels, trims basic research by $20 million, with Defense Research Science program elements under the Navy and Air Force bearing the brunt, but provides "a collective 6.9 percent increase for 'university-specific initiatives.'"  The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency would receive a 2.9 percent ($101 million), increase.

A UNIVERSITY HYPERSONICS CONSORTIUM: Appropriators worry that "the  rapid  growth  in  hypersonic  research  has  the  potential  to  result  in  stove-piped,  proprietary  systems  that  duplicate  capabilities and increase costs." They therefore want to see "an  integrated  science  and  technology  roadmap  for  hypersonics" and instruct the Pentagon "to  establish  a  university  consortium  for  hypersonics  research  and  workforce  development  to  support  department  efforts  to  expedite  testing,  evaluation,  and  acquisition  of  hypersonic  weapons  systems,  and  to  coordinate  current  and  future  research,  development,  test,  and evaluation programs" across the department. Appropriators are also concerned about duplicative space R&D, and therefore want the Pentagon's new Space Development Agency and  the  Air  Force  to  work  together  to  define  a  unified  and  integrated  space  architecture."

STEM WORKFORCE GROWTH: To expand the pipeline "particularly  for  women  and  minorities," the appropriations panel "encourages  the  Under  Secretary  of  Defense  for  Re-search  and  Engineering" to partner with  Hispanic-serving  institutions,  historically  black  colleges  and universities,  and  other  minority-serving institutions  on  research,  fellowships,  internships,  and  cooperative  work  experiences  at  defense laboratories" as well as on building "a  pipeline  for  scientists  and  engineers  to  enter  the  cyber  workforce  upon  graduation." See the Appropriations Committee's report on defense

BY THE NUMBERS: See a detailed Defense Department budget and appropriations chart provided by the Coalition for National Security Research. 

A WHITE MALE MAJORITY: Of the current cybersecurity workforce, "only 9% are African American, 4% are Hispanic, and 11% are women," says Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), right, who chairs the House Homeland Security subcommittee dealing with cyber. "If we are serious about fixing this problem, we need to put our money where our mouth is." On hand for a hearing on Growing and Developing the Cyber Pipeline  was Richard J. Gallot, Jr., president of Louisiana's Grambling State University, who said his school and other HBCUs represent "one of America’s most critical answers for filling the 3-million-person job gap that exists globally in cybersecurity today." 


QUANTUM LEAP CHALLENGE INSTITUTES: The National Science Foundation anticipates spending up to $94 million and making up to 28 awards for this program, acting on one of the agency's 10 Big Ideas. But the deadline is fast approaching for letters of intent. Minutes of the Engineering Advisory Committee meeting last October indicate that quantum science and engineering was a key topic of discussion. Members "anticipate challenges in the quantum science and engineering curriculum. A degree program in quantum science will have trouble competing with other hot areas and will take too long to develop. Specialized concentrations might work better and attract more U.S students." It was reported that much of the quantum workforce is now coming from physics, not engineering.

NOMINATE A COLLEAGUE  . . . for the National Science Board, which establishes NSF policies and advises both the president and Congress. Nominations are due by May 31.


Source: FYI Bulletin, American Institute of Physics. 

Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF)


A WEB PAGE VANISHES, A LAB CLOSES: Emory University has fired geneticists Li Xiao-Jiang and Li Shihua, a Chinese-American husband-and-wife team who used advanced CRISPR technology to study Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases. The university said they “had failed to fully disclose foreign sources of research funding and the extent of their work for research institutions and universities in China.” Science quotes Li Xiao Jiang as saying, "I was shocked that Emory University would terminate a tenured professor in such an unusual and abrupt fashion and close our combined lab consisting of a number of graduates and postdoctoral trainees without giving me specific details for the reasons behind my termination.”



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