House takes up U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness Act:
Last week the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology released its companion to the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). The House’s proposal, which is titled the America COMPETES Act of 2022, focuses on the country’s competitiveness with China, the semiconductor industry, and federal research. It also includes a version of the H.R.2225, the National Science Foundation for the Future Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support last June, and a number of other bills covering a range of science and manufacturing issues already approved by the committee.
More than 500 amendments were filed with the House Rules Committee last week, and floor debate on the bill began yesterday on the more than 250 amendments that were approved for consideration. House Republicans appear united in opposition to the package, so House Democrats will have to stay together to see the bill through the potential traps in the amendment process and get it to a final vote. The speaker’s stated goal is to pass the bill by the end of this week then complete a negotiation with the Senate by March 1. That will likely be a very difficult timeline to hold to based on the very substantial difference between the two versions of the bill, as well as other pending legislative business.
FY22 appropriations update:
Negotiations have begun on an omnibus spending measure, with meetings this week between the top four leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, as well as House and Senate leadership meetings. If a deal cannot be reached soon there will probably be another continuing resolution required to extend funding beyond February 18 when the current deal expires. The White House is also preparing another Covid funding request, which could potentially complicate the negotiation on concluding the FY22 appropriations process. Significant proposed budget increases for the National Science Foundation, NOAA, NASA, and other science agencies hang in the balance while this standoff is resolved.
FY23 budget request outlook:
The president will address Congress and present his State of the Union speech on March 1. The Office of Management and Budget suggests that the outline of the FY23 federal budget request should be complete by that time and may be released soon before the speech. It is less clear when individual agency budget requests will be publicly released, with some sources suggesting that a further delay in resolving the FY22 bills could mean they will also be delayed until later in March.
New NASA climate science appointee:
NASA announced on January 10 that Earth scientist Kate Calvin will serve as the agency's chief scientist and senior climate advisor. In her role as chief scientist, Calvin will advise NASA's leaders on science activities across the agency and represent its science objectives and contributions to national and international stakeholders. In the senior climate advisor position, which NASA created last year, she will steer the agency’s climate change communication efforts and promote both its Earth science research as well as its emissions-mitigation work in aeronautics and technology. Calvin will also highlight the work of NASA’s Earth Science Division, which has recently announced the Earth System Observatory satellite initiative. This initiative is accelerating, and coordinating the agency’s response to the latest National Academies decadal survey for Earth science.
Climate workforce and adaptation bills introduced:
The month of January was busy for climate-related legislation. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced the Climate Resilience Workforce Act (H.R. 6492), Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Maria Salazar (R-FL) introduced the National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy (NCARS) Act (H.R. 6461), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) offered the Climate RESILIENCE Act (H.R. 6396). Blumenauer’s bill mostly focuses on strengthening FEMA’s approach to climate disasters, while the Peters and Salazar bill would require the development of a whole-of-government National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy, which would ensure a unified vision for the U.S. government’s response to climate hazards and direct the swift implementation of equitable climate resilience solutions across federal agencies. The Jayapal bill seeks to create millions of climate resilience jobs through grants to states, counties, cities, tribal governments, labor organizations, and community-based nonprofit organizations.