DC Digest - September 10, 2012
In Today's Issue:
- House Could Vote as Early as This Week on Six-Month FY13 Stopgap Funding Bill
- Higher Ed Associations Oppose NIH Funding Restrictions in House FY13 Appropriations Bill
- District Judge Holds Hearing on Legal Challenge to Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
- It's Time to Get Serious About Science
- Related: Golden Goose Award Website Goes Live
- Private Sector Role at Heart of Campaigns' Split on College Costs
HOUSE COULD VOTE AS EARLY AS THIS WEEK ON SIX-MONTH FY13 STOPGAP FUNDING BILL
The House could vote as early as Thursday, September 13, on a continuing resolution (CR) that would sustain federal appropriations for the first six months of FY13, reports CQ.com. Appropriators have been “working toward a ‘clean’ CR largely free of the kinds of add-on provisions that catchall funding measures have carried in the past,” adds the publication. A draft of the document is not yet available to the public.
If approved by both chambers and signed by the President, the CR would postpone battles over FY13 spending until next March, well beyond the November elections.
Before adjourning for the August recess, House and Senate leaders announced that they and President Obama had reached agreement on the outlines of the deal. In exchange for having an opportunity to make further cuts in FY13 spending next year, House Republicans agreed to abide by the FY13 discretionary spending level approved in last year’s Budget Control Act and used by the Senate in its FY13 appropriations bills. The House had sought to reduce that spending total by $19 billion.
HIGHER ED ASSOCIATIONS OPPOSE NIH FUNDING RESTRICTIONS IN HOUSE FY13 APPROPRIATIONS BILL
AAU and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) sent a letter to House appropriators on September 6 expressing opposition to several restrictions on funding decisions at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) contained in the panel’s FY13 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.
“Crippling NIH by freezing its funding while at the same time reducing its flexibility with well-intended but ill-conceived mandates will ultimately delay the search for cures and treatments intended to benefit the American people,” said the letter.
The associations wrote that Congress should not “tie the hands of the agency by setting arbitrary boundaries on the number and size of awards, dictating a minimum amount for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards, and establishing a minimum number of National Research Service Awards.” Other problematic provisions the associations identified in the subcommittee bill include a proposal to further lower the extramural salary cap to Executive Level III, a provision to set an “arbitrary” ratio of extramural to intramural NIH research funding, and language to prohibit NIH from using funds “for any economic research programs, projects, or activities.”
AAU and APLU Oppose NIH Funding Restrictions in House FY13 Appropriations Bill (pdf)
DISTRICT JUDGE HOLDS HEARING ON LEGAL CHALLENGE TO ANIMAL ENTERPRISE TERRORISM ACT
A federal district court judge in Massachusetts held a hearing two weeks ago on the lawsuit filed by five animal rights activists challenging the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). As described by the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), “the suit alleges the AETA is unconstitutional and ‘has cast a chill over the animal rights community,’ leading activists to refrain from participating in protests and undercover filming operations due to concerns about prosecution.”
AAU has joined NABR and a number of other organizations in filing an amicus brief supporting the government position and urging the court to rule that the AETA is constitutional. As stated by NABR, “The brief argues the law is a measured and important response to threats, bombings, arson, and vandalism committed by animal rights extremists against research facilities and scientists who conduct life-saving research with laboratory animals. Several of the points raised by the amicus brief were mentioned during the hearing.”
It is not clear when a final decision in the case will be reached.
IT'S TIME TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT SCIENCE
Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Alan I. Leshner, head of AAAS, write in an opinion piece appearing The Washington Post:
Some policymakers, including certain senators and members of Congress, cannot resist ridiculing any research project with an unusual title. Their press releases are perhaps already waiting in the drawer, with blanks for the name of the latest scientist being attacked.
The United States may now risk falling behind in scientific discoveries as other countries increase their science funding. We need to get serious about science. In fact, maybe it’s time for researchers to fight back, to return a comeback for every punch line.
It's Time to Get Serious About Science (Washington Post)
GOLDEN GOOSE AWARD WEBSITE GOES LIVE
This week is the first annual awards ceremony for the Golden Goose Award, a new honor created by a coalition of academic, scientific, and business organizations, including AAU, to highlight the human and economic benefits of federally funded scientific research. The focus of the award is on seemingly unusual or obscure studies that have led to major breakthroughs and had a significant impact on society. The inaugural award ceremony, which will honor the accomplishments of an individual researcher and two research teams, will be held September 13 on Capitol Hill.
The website for the new award provides additional information about the award ceremony, as well as about development of the award, participating Members of Congress, and the sponsoring organizations. Following the award ceremony, the website will feature photos and video from the event, as well as a video and other materials that tell the stories of the awardees and their discoveries.
Golden Goose Award Website
PRIVATE SECTOR ROLE AT HEART OF CAMPAIGNS' SPLIT ON COLLEGE COSTS
Ballots cast in November will help decide how the federal government confronts the costs of college and what role the private sector plays in higher education.
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney tell students and families that they understand the financial strain caused by soaring tuition and swelling student debt, but they offer vastly different solutions to the problem.
Private Sector Role is at Heart of Campaigns' Split on College Costs (Washington Post)