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October 2013 Public Policy News

18 October: Physics Organizations Endorse Letter on COMPETES Act: Discussions about the third reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act are underway on Capitol Hill ("The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act"). The original COMPETES Act was signed into law by President Bush in 2007 "to invest in innovation through research and development, and to improve the competitiveness of the United States." The bill was reauthorized in 2010 and signed into law by President Obama. Originally intended to double the annual appropriations of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science, and the laboratories of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), the COMPETES Act has also sent a strong message of support for basic research and science, technology, engineering, and math education.

Because of current fiscal conditions, many questions remain about funding levels in the reauthorized COMPETES bill language. The American Institute of Physics and three of its Member Societies - the American Astronomical Society, American Physical Society, and the Optical Society - endorsed a letter addressing the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act. The letter was sent to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; the Senate Energy Committee; and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Read more


17 October: Federal Operations Resume: At 10:20 pm on 16 October, the House of Representatives began its roll call vote on a bipartisan stop-gap Senate funding bill, and within fifteen minutes it had passed this measure providing federal funding at current levels through January 15, 2014. President Obama signed the bill, H.R. 2775, the same night.  Federal operations resumed the morning of 17 October after a 16 day shutdown. Read more


4 October: House Space Subcommittee Discusses Aging NASA Infrastructure: The September 20 hearing in the House Science, Space, and Technology's Space Subcommittee provided Members with an opportunity to review the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) efforts to manage its facilities and infrastructure. Members on both sides of the aisle share a concern about NASA's ability to manage these facilities in tight fiscal conditions and uncertain budgets. Read more

1 October: Federal Government Shutdown: Science and Technology Agency Information When Fiscal Year 2014 started at 12:01 AM, 1 October, no appropriations bills had been passed providing funding for the continued operations of the federal government. There is no information about how the months-long impasse over the health care law and spending levels will be resolved. One report cited senior Republican congressional leaders who predicted the shutdown could last a week or more.

The following are links to selected federal science and technology agency contingency plans relating to the shutdown:

Other federal government agency contingency plans are available here