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New House Caucus on Earth and Space Sciences

Greetings from D.C. In early September, a new House caucus was formed with the purpose of “promot[ing] and broaden[ing] awareness of the societal, economic, and scientific advancements made possible by the earth and space sciences.” The House Caucus on Earth and Space Sciences is co-chaired by Representatives Jared Polis (D‑CO‑2nd) and David Jolly (R-FL-13th).

Like all caucuses on the Hill (and there are hundreds), this new caucus is designed to highlight the importance of the underlying area of interest, serve as a resource for fellow Hill staffers and others working in that area, and advocate for policy prescriptions supporting their interests. Accordingly, the House Caucus on Earth and Space Sciences notes its policy objectives as supporting federal investment in basic and applied sciences, strong and sustained funding for the earth and space sciences in appropriations and authorization bills, and the inclusion of earth and space sciences in STEM education curriculum for primary and secondary students.

The new caucus was launched at a reception where Reps. Polis, Jolly and Mike Honda (D-CA-17th) gave remarks. As reported by the American Institute of Physics (~1@BODYURL[id=166DWcurl91]@), Rep. Polis is a “natural fit” for the new caucus as his district is home to the NASA-sponsored Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (at the University of Colorado-Boulder), as well as a number of National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) labs, and the National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored National Center for Atmospheric Research. Polis also serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources. Reps. Jolly and Honda both serve on the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. Rep. Honda is the Ranking Member on that important subcommittee, which has responsibility for funding NASA, NSF, NOAA and NIST.

AIP points out that the formation of this new science-related caucus comes at a time of authorization and funding challenges for the geosciences in general, and particularly in the area of climate science. They did note, however, that NASA earth science programs have received fairly steady funding increases in recent years.

As noted, there are so many congressional caucuses that it is actually a challenge to get an exact number since they ebb and flow with the interests of those who create them. Certainly some are quite large and well-known, and influential, while others are less so. I mention this new caucus because it will be operating in a space of mutual interest to some of our members (those engaged in earth and space science research efforts at NIST, NOAA, NASA and a few other agencies and labs), and it is helpful to keep track of any programs the caucus may develop in the course of its outreach and advocacy efforts. The House Caucus on Earth and Space Sciences joins at least two other caucuses (although there are no doubt more) of particular interest to the FLC community and which have been identified in this column in the past—the Congressional Technology Transfer Caucus and the Congressional Research and Development Caucus.

You can find a one-pager about the new caucus and staff contact information ~1@BODYURL[id=166DWcurl92]@.

Gary can be reached at ~1@BODYURL[id=166DWcurl93]@
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