Bills in Brief: US Science & Technology Policy

bridges vol. 27, October 2010 / Bills in Brief: US S&T Policy News

stc_newletter_logo_small.jpgThis bridges Bills in Brief is brought to you, in part, by the Science and Technology in Congress Newsletter , a publication of the AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Congress , covering the latest science-related news on Capitol Hill

  • Congress Gives Itself More Time on Appropriations

President Obama signed the The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (H.R.3081) on the last day of the fiscal year (September 30) to extend government operations until December 3, 2010. The continuing resolution (CR) funds most programs at current levels, but funding for some programs was modified. This extension gives Congress two weeks after they return from the November elections to enact the FY 2011 budget.

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  • Stem Cell Research Funding in Jeopardy

On August 23, US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth issued a preliminary injunction barring NIH from funding embryonic stem cell research. The injunction was in response to a lawsuit involving two scientists who argued that the funding of embryonic stem cell research would cause them "irreparable injury" by increasing competition and therefore potentially taking funds away from adult stem cell research, their area of work. The US Justice Department quickly moved to appeal the injunction.

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  • President Signs NASA Reauthorization Act

Late on September 29, the House passed the Senate's version of the NASA Reauthorization Act just in time for the start of the new fiscal year. The passage of the bill is a victory for some of President Obama's priorities, chiefly the termination of the Constellation program and the new emphasis on supporting commercial development of space flight capabilities.

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  • Rare Earth Metals are in Short Supply

The United States is aiming to increase its production of rare earth metals that are used in batteries, magnets, superconductors and various other goods. Though the United States was once the leading producer of these metals, the nation now imports all of its supply and does not have any active mines. In response, the House recently passed the Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act of 2010, H.R. 6160, and the Senate is considering the Rare Earths Supply Technology and Resources Transformation Act of 2010, S. 3521.

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  • Oil Spill Investigations Continue

Though Congress did not yet enact legislation to reform oil offshore drilling, investigations into the Gulf oil spill and its effects continue. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a hearing on seafood safety, and the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling held its second and third meeting. Meanwhile, plans for research and Gulf restoration are beginning.

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