Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

Updates on state and federal issues relating to the UW System.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Federal Update for May 3

The Senate reconvened today, Monday , May 3. This week, the Senate will continue floor debate on the financial regulatory bill, with the possibility that consideration of amendments could take the debate into the second week of May.

The House is expected to reconvene tomorrow, Tuesday, May 4, to vote on a $6 billion program to provide rebates of up to $3,000 per household for energy-efficient improvements (H.R. 5019). The House will also consider a resolution honoring the National Science Foundation for 60 years of service to the nation, and a resolution recognizing the need to improve the participation and performance of America's students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, supporting the ideals of National Lab Day.


The House Science and Technology Committee on April 28 approved a comprehensive, five-year reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 5116). The bipartisan vote was 29 to 8.

The measure reauthorizes programs and funding levels for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The final committee-approved measure reduces the authorization levels for the three agencies by 10 percent from the bill introduced last week by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). The modification, made as part of a manager's amendment, authorizes doubling the agencies' budgets over 10 years, rather than the seven years authorized in 2007 by the original America COMPETES Act.

The America COMPETES Act reauthorization bill approved by the House S&T Committee includes provisions to require the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to coordinate federal policy on public access to the results of federally funded unclassified research. The language was contained in the manager's amendment.

Specifically, Section 123 of H.R. 5116 directs the OSTP director to establish an interagency public access committee to coordinate development of uniform standards for research data, navigation tools, and other applications to achieve interoperability across federal science agencies and between research data and scholarly publications. The group would consult with non-federal stakeholders, such as representatives from universities, libraries, and publishers, as well as with international science and technology counterparts.

A group of 92 universities and university systems sent a letter to leaders of the House Science and Technology Committee on April 26 urging them to act on a bipartisan reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act as quickly as possible. Please note that the letter was signed by the University of Wisconsin System.

"The bipartisan America COMPETES Act enacted in 2007 has played and continues to play a crucial role in outlining our nation's path forward in the global economy by fostering innovation and keeping the United States competitive," said the letter. "As universities from across the country, we recognize the fiscal challenges facing the nation, and believe the funding of research and STEM education are investments that the country must continue."

(AAU, APLU, and the UWSA Office of Federal Relations contributed to this report.)