Sunday, March 15, 2009


There has been some activity on relevant legislation so far in March, and it deserves attention.

However, a couple noteworthy changes in the direction of this blog.  Most of the "science" relevant legislation that has been tracked thus far has come out of the House Science & Technology Committee; some of it will make it out of the committee, less of it will be debated, and much less of it will ultimately become law.

Speaking with Science Policy experts, there is a strong sense that hearings and other work by the House S&T committee may well be irrelevant until proven otherwise.  Over the course of the last ten years or so, funding for particular projects has been authorized through a variety of legislation, some of which came from the S&T Committee.  The America COMPETES act of 2007 set out further priorities for increasing and targeting funding for science.  The stimulus bill this year (American Recovery and Reinvestment Actof 2009)  provided $20 billion to go towards science & technology research & development, and this will be by far the most significant director of science and technology policy this year.  

At this point, much of the heavy lifting lies in the hands of the congressional appropriations committees, and this blog will continue to watch them.

Two other important things to be aware of.  First, there was an omnibus appropriations bill signed into law by President Obama on March 11.  This $410 billion bill includes appropriations for a huge number of agencies, including ones relevant to science & technology policy.  In the relevant section of the bill, billions of dollars are allocated to the National Aeronautcis and Space Association.  The National Science Foundation similarly has billions allocated towards research and education.   The full text of the bill is here.

Second, there will probably be a very large omnibus appropriations bill put through congress - by either Henry Waxman or Edward Markey, in all likelihood.  The specifics of who will control the bill are uncertain, and it is going to be met with red-hot Republican opposition.  This WSJ op-ed summarizes much of the opposition.  Whether the bill will be opposed is not the question; rather, it will be interesting to see whether or not the bill is emasculated, in terms of regulatory teeth, prior to its passage.

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