Bills in Brief

The "bridges" Bills in Brief is brought to you, in part, by the Science and Technology in Congress Newsletter, a publication of the AAAS Office of Government Relations, covering the latest science-related news on Capitol Hill.


bridges, vol. 33, May 2012 / Bills in Brief

House Passes Commerce, Justice, Science Spending Bill

On May 10th, the House of Representatives approved its version of the FY 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) spending bill - its first of the year - on a 247-163 vote. The bill, which covers funding for NSF, NASA, NOAA, NIST, and other agencies, is more generous in some areas than might have been expected, although R&D in most agencies would fall somewhat short of the President's requests. NSF R&D would receive a $221 million or 3.9% boost over FY 2012 levels, slightly less than the President's request. Like NSF, NASA R&D would receive a boost above FY 2012 levels of $123 million or 1.3%, with cuts to space exploration more than offset by increases elsewhere. The largest increase in dollars was reserved for science, where the House provided planetary science with more than $200 million more than the request, in an attempt to offset the major cuts the Administration Is seeking. Many of the increases the Administration has sought for R&D in the Department of Commerce are also sustained in this bill. The National Institute of Standards and Technology would receive a substantial R&D boost of nearly 14%, while the NOAA R&D increase (11%) comes in spite of the fact that the overall NOAA budget would be largely flat. The CJS bill now awaits floor action in the Senate, where a version has already been approved in committee.

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Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Approves FY 2013 DOE Funding Bill

On April 27, the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee approved its FY 2013 funding bill. Reflecting the budget deal worked out last year between the Obama Administration and Congress, the subcommittee's bill totals $33.4 billion. The comparable House bill totals $32.1 billion, resulting from a move by House Republicans to further reduce total spending in the next fiscal year.

Both the House and Senate subcommittee bills must go before the full appropriations committees. Following approval, each committee will release a report detailing funding levels and direction for individual programs.

Read the full story by Richard M. Jones at FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

Obama Signs into Law "Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups Act"

On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed into law H.R. 3606, the "Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups Act," which provides for Federal securities law exemptions intended to ease access to capital and investments for emerging growth companies and through crowdfunding.

The Jumpstart Our Small Business Start-ups Act, known as the Jobs Act, moved through both chambers on bipartisan votes and made surprising allies of the White House and House Republicans. But while lawmakers and start-up advocates have trumpeted the legislation as a job-creation measure, critics say that the bill could leave investors vulnerable to fraud – both by creating a new opportunity for Internet scammers, and by rolling back some regulations on stock exchanges that date back to the 1930s.

"For business owners who want to take their companies to the next level, this bill will make it easier for you to go public," Obama said. "For start-ups and small businesses, this bill is a potential game changer. For the first time, ordinary Americans will be able to go online and invest in entrepreneurs that they believe in."

According to the White House, the bill includes all three capital-formation priorities that the president sent to Congress in January of this year.

A lot of buzz has surrounded one provision of the bill, which will give very small businesses a brand-new way to raise capital by allowing them to solicit a lot of small investments through "crowdfunding," primarily through online platforms.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has several months to pass regulations fully implementing the law.

Read more from sources:

- "Obama's Jobs Act Has Bipartisan Support, Industry Critics." National Journal, 5 April 2012,

- "JOBS Act opens fundraising doors for small firms." CNN, 6 April 2012,

Lawmakers Address Public Access to Research Publications

Two bills have brought the issue of public access to peer-reviewed research articles to the fore. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the Research Works Act, which would nullify federal public access policies, notably the NIH Public Access Policy. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) reintroduced the Federal Research Public Access Act, which would require federal research agencies to devise public access policies that would make scientific publications available within six months of publication.

Read the full story here.


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