DC Dispatch

DC Dispatch - September 27, 2017

Budget Status Update 

FY 2018 Continuing Resolution

On September 8, the President signed into law a package “extending federal government spending at current levels and raising the federal debt ceiling, both through Dec. 8. The agreement also includes over $15 billion in emergency spending for Hurricane Harvey and wildfire relief.”  From a post by The American Institute of Physics (AIP), “[A]t an Oval Office meeting on Sept. 6, President Trump sided with congressional Democratic leaders in backing the stopgap measure after congressional Republican leaders had pushed for an 18-month debt limit increase.  Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) then changed their minds and decided to support the agreement. … A three-month spending extension at the end of the fiscal year is not atypical of Congress. As the chart below [see the link] produced by the Congressional Research Service depicts, Congress has not funded the federal government by the start of the new fiscal year in over 20 years, although it has varied in the number of days it has taken to provide new appropriations.” (Original source: AIP website)

Work Continues for FY 2018 Funding

Shortly after the CR was signed into law, the House “passed an FY 2018 omnibus spending package (H.R. 3354) by a partisan 211-198 vote.”  From a post blurb in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), “[T]he omnibus contains all 12 annual funding bills approved by the House Appropriations Committee, including the four that were already passed as a ‘minibus’ in July.  The omnibus package allows the House to complete its appropriations work on time for the first time since 2009, but it also can’t become law in its current form.  That’s because the omnibus sets defense spending at $621.5 billion, approximately $72 billion above the spending caps mandated by the Budget Control Act.  As explained last month, violating the caps would trigger a sequestration: across-the-board cuts to force defense spending back down within the caps.  The package is unlikely to get even that far, however, as it would require Democratic support to achieve the necessary 60 votes in the Senate.  Democrats are unlikely to go along with any appropriations that boost defense spending while simultaneously trimming nondefense, as the omnibus does. … According to AAAS estimates, the House omnibus would increase federal R&D by a total 4.9 percent or $7.7 billion above FY 2017 estimates, to $164.4 billion total. Basic and applied research would increase by 2.6 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively, both slightly ahead of inflation; development spending would grow by even more due to large proposed boosts for Department of Defense development activities (see graph at right).  In comparison, the President’s FY 2018 budget had proposed deep cuts to research agencies, including NIH, DOE, and NSF.”  (Original sources: AAAS website)

President Trump Nominates New USPTO Director

The President has nominated Andrea Iancu to lead the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  From a post on arstechnica, “[I]ancu has been a partner at Irell & Manella since 2004 and was an associate at the firm for five years earlier.  His most notable work in the tech sector is likely his representation of TiVo Corp. in its long-running patent battles with companies like EchoStar, Motorola, Microsoft, Verizon, and Cisco.”  See another blurb on the nomination, including more background information on the nominee, at the IP Watchdog blog.  (Original sources: IPWatchdog blog, arstechnical website)

Senate Hearing on DOE Labs

(Notes Tech Commercialization)

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (Subcommittee on Energy) held a hearing in mid-September titled “Fostering Innovation: Contributions of the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories.”  The panelists included senior officials at Argonne National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab, among others.  You can watch an archived webcast of the hearing here, as well as read initial statements of the panelists.  From a summarizing post in AIP, “[A]t the hearing, committee members and witnesses cheerfully discussed developments in several areas of energy R&D, including photovoltaics, energy storage, materials, and carbon capture.  But their overarching concern was how DOE’s national laboratories foster collaborations between government, universities, and the private sector, speeding the development and commercialization of new technologies.  As such, the hearing covered similar ground to one on energy R&D that the House Science Committee held in July.  An important subtext at both the earlier hearing and this week’s was the Trump administration’s policy of paring back the government’s applied research and technology development and commercialization activities to focus on ‘early stage’ or ‘basic’ research.  That policy was manifest in the administration’s proposals to eliminate DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy and to cut funding for the department’s applied energy offices, including a 70-percent reduction for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Where the July hearing exhibited some Republican support for the administration’s policy, at this hearing Subcommittee Chair Cory Gardner (R-CO), the only Republican present, joined his Democratic colleagues in rejecting the administration’s thinking.”  (Original Sources: AIP website)

New From the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Federal Support for Science and Engineering to Universities, Colleges and Nonprofit Institutions: Fiscal Year 2015 shows “FY 2015 data on federal obligations to academic and nonprofit institutions for science and engineering research and development. Data include type of activity and trends, as well as ranking by state, agency, and individual institution. Data are from the Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions.”  (Original source: NSF website)

Business R&D Performed in the United States Reached $356 Billion in 2015 notes that “[B]usinesses spent $356 billion on research and development performance in the United States in 2015, up 4.4% from the $341 billion spent in 2014. Funding from the companies' own sources was $297 billion in 2015, a 5.0% increase from 2014. Funding from other sources was $59 billion in 2015 and $58 billion in 2014. Data for this InfoBrief are from the Business R&D and Innovation Survey, developed and cosponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Census.”  (Original source: NSF website)


Note:  The DC Dispatch is a periodic update of selected items of interest to the FLC and technology transfer community—current legislation, trends, reports, policy and other developments potentially affecting technology transfer or related activities—designed to keep the community informed of relevant issues on a timely basis.  Information is gleaned directly from a variety of sources (newsletters, email alerts, websites, direct participation at events from the FLC DC Liaison’s office, etc.), with original sources, contacts and links provided.

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