FYI: Science Policy News
WEEK OF NOV 13, 2023
What’s Ahead

US Capitol Dome Fall.png

A photo of the U.S. Capitol in fall.

(Architect of the Capitol)

Funding for Federal Agencies Expires on Friday

The stopgap legislation that is funding the federal government expires this Friday and lawmakers are still scrambling to agree on an extension. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has proposed a “two-step” stopgap in which agencies covered by four of the twelve annual appropriations bills would be funded through Jan. 19 and the rest through Feb. 2. The first group, which includes the bill covering the Department of Energy, is generally viewed as easier to negotiate than the second. However, various lawmakers and the Biden administration have expressed opposition to splitting the agency funding deadlines. Johnson has said that if his two-step idea does not secure enough support he will propose a stopgap measure that would generally hold agencies at their current funding levels for the rest of the fiscal year, with exceptions for national security programs.

Quantum and Commercial Space Bills Advancing in House

The House Science Committee will meet on Wednesday to consider amendments to the National Quantum Initiative Reauthorization Act and the Commercial Space Act before voting to advance them to the House floor. The NQI Reauthorization Act would update the 2018 law that created a multiagency quantum information science R&D program anchored by a network of QIS centers. The new legislation proposes to expand the network of QIS centers, launch a multidisciplinary hub focused on quantum curriculum and workforce development, create testbeds for quantum technology R&D, and establish “quantum foundries” to produce quantum-related materials and devices.

The Commercial Space Act would clarify the regulatory process for nongovernmental space activities, mandating that all U.S. entities obtain certifications before operating space objects. The certification process would be designed and overseen by the Office of Space Commerce, which would become an independent entity within the Department of Commerce rather than falling within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The bill would also direct the office to establish a space situational awareness consortium to provide data, information, and services to the public, and it would direct NASA to create a Space Situational Awareness Institute to conduct R&D to reduce the risks associated with orbital debris. It would also extend until 2031 the “learning period” that limits the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to promulgate safety regulations for commercial spaceflight missions involving humans.

In Case You Missed It

House Education and Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
Nov 8 2023.png

House Education and Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC)


Republicans Push to Expand Foreign Money Disclosures in Academia

The House Education and Workforce Committee voted 27-11 on Nov. 8 to advance a bill that would expand foreign gift reporting requirements for universities and faculty members. The Defending Education Transparency and Ending Rogue Regimes Engaging in Nefarious Transactions (DETERRENT) Act would lower the current reporting threshold from $250,000 to $50,000 for most countries, with a $0 threshold for “countries of concern,” such as China and Iran. The legislation would also require the disclosure of foreign gifts to individual staff and faculty at universities that receive more than $50 million annually in federal R&D funds.

“We deserve to know which countries are paying for influence on college campuses,” Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said in her opening statement, highlighting the case of Harvard University chemist Charles Lieber, who was sentenced earlier this year for lying to federal authorities about his ties to China. Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) said in a statement that the bill failed to meaningfully address research security concerns and could jeopardize global research collaboration by introducing onerous reporting requirements. The legislation is the first in a series of bills Republicans plan to advance in an attempt to update the Higher Education Act.

Weather Act Update Breezes through Science Committee

The House Science Committee voted 31-0 last week to advance the Weather Act Reauthorization, which would update a 2017 law that set policy for weather research and forecasting programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The update is a top priority of Science Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK), who was a lead author of the 2017 act. “After months of feedback from dozens of stakeholders, we’ve crafted a bill that builds on the successes of the Weather Act while tackling the next generation of forecasting needs,” Lucas said before the committee vote last week, highlighting its provisions focused on improving subseasonal-to-seasonal forecasting and expanding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s use of commercially acquired data. The committee adopted a dozen amendments that address a wide range of research and disaster preparedness programs, including provisions to extend the National Landslide Hazards Reduction program, expand tsunami detection research, and close gaps in weather radar coverage.

Bertagnolli Begins Work as NIH Director

Oncologist Monica Bertagnolli was sworn in as director of the National Institutes of Health on Nov. 9 after the Senate confirmed her nomination in a 62-36 vote on Nov. 7. Eleven Republicans and all but two members of the Democratic caucus voted in her favor. NIH has lacked a Senate-confirmed director since Francis Collins stepped down nearly two years ago. Prior to her confirmation, Bertagnolli led the National Cancer Institute, the largest of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers. Read more about her background and nomination process here.

NuScale Pulls Plug on Small Modular Reactor Project

Plans to build the first commercial small modular reactor nuclear power plant in the U.S. have been scrapped. The company NuScale and a Utah-based consortium of power utilities announced on Nov. 8 they had mutually agreed to terminate the effort, called the Carbon Free Power Project, because it “appears unlikely that the project will have enough subscription to continue toward deployment.” NuScale secured certification from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its reactor design — the first U.S. company to do so for a small modular reactor — but the project faced delays, cost overruns, and an insufficient number of customers, diminishing its economic viability. The reactor would have been located at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls. DOE backed the project with a cost-share deal worth up to $1.36 billion, and has reportedly provided $232 million toward the project since 2020. The reactor was due to come online in 2029.

Upcoming Events

All times are Eastern Daylight Time, unless otherwise noted. Listings do not imply endorsement. Events beyond this week are listed on our website.

Monday, November 13

National Academies: Committee on Solar and Space Physics meeting
(continues Tuesday)

NASA: Planetary Science Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Tuesday)

National Academies: “Review of the SBIR and STTR Programs at NASA,” kickoff meeting
1:00 - 4:00 pm

Tuesday, November 14

National Academies: Space Studies Board meeting
(continues through Thursday)

NASA: Heliophysics Advisory Committee meeting
(continues through Thursday)

House: “Leveraging AI to Enhance American Communications”
10:00 am, Energy and Commerce Committee

House: “Clean Power Plan 2.0: EPA’s Effort to Jeopardize Reliable and Affordable Energy for States”
10:30 am, Energy and Commerce Committee

National Academies: “The Geospatial Workforce Crisis: A Diversity of Pathways Forward”
11:00 am - 4:30 pm

National Academies: Committee on NASA Mission Critical Workforce, Infrastructure, and Technology, meeting 13
1:00 - 4:00 pm

House: “Missing the Target: CEQ’s Meritless Selection of SBTi”
2:00 pm, Science and Oversight Committees

National Academies: NOAA briefing on solar sails
2:00 - 3:00 pm

DOD: Defense Innovation Board meeting
4:00 - 5:00 pm

Carnegie Endowment: “The Future of AI Governance: A Conversation with Arati Prabhakar”
5:00 - 6:00 pm

Wednesday, November 15

NSF: STEM Education Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Thursday)

NOAA: Science Advisory Board meeting
(continues Thursday)

National Academies: Committee on Science, Engineering, Medicine, and Public Policy biannual meeting
(continues Thursday)

CSIS: “Cross-Industry Collaboration on Methane Reductions,” with Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND)
8:30 am - 12:00 pm

National Nanotechnology Initiative: Nanoinformatics conference
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

House: Meeting to advance the National Quantum Initiative Reauthorization Act and the Commercial Space Act
9:30 am, Science Committee

House: “Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the U.S.”
9:30 am, Armed Services Committee

Senate: “U.S. Leadership on Artificial Intelligence in an Era of Strategic Competition”
10:00 am, Foreign Relations Committee

Senate: “Opportunities in Industrial Decarbonization: Delivering Benefits for the Economy and the Climate”
10:00 am, Environment and Public Works Committee

NIST: National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee meeting
10:00 am - 1:00 pm

National Academies: “Charting a Responsible Future in AI and Biosecurity,” session two
12:00 - 1:30 pm

National Academies: Science Communication and Gender Equity: Celebrating the 2023 L’Orèal USA for Women in Science Fellows
1:00 - 4:30 pm

Thursday, November 16

USGS: Scientific Earthquake Studies Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Friday)

House: Meeting to advance the Preventing Adversaries from Developing Critical Capabilities Act
10:00 am, Foreign Affairs Committee

BIS: Materials and Equipment Technical Advisory Committee meeting
10:00 am

CDC: Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health meeting
11:00 am - 4:30 pm

Springer Nature: “Science on the Hill 2023: Improving Severe Weather Forecasting,” with Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL)
12:00 - 1:00 pm

CSET: “DOD Replicator: Small, Smart, Cheap, and Many”
12:00 - 1:00 pm

National Academies: “AI and Machine Learning in Geophysics - Are We Beyond the Black Box?”
1:00 - 5:00 pm

Bipartisan Policy Center: “AI and the Workforce: An International Economic Outlook”
2:00 - 3:00 pm

Society of Environmental Journalists: Guide to Energy and Environment conference
3:00 - 5:00 pm

Friday, November 17

NASA Advisory Council: Human Exploration and Operations Committee meeting
(continues Monday)

Monday, November 20

DOE: 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board meeting
12:00 - 1:30 pm

National Academies: “The Current Status and Future Direction of High Magnetic Field Science in the United States,” presentations by directors of magnet labs in China
7:00 - 8:00 pm

Know of an upcoming science policy event either inside or outside the Beltway? Email us at

Around the Web

News and views currently in circulation. Links do not imply endorsement.

White House

OMB: Draft memo on advancing governance, innovation, and risk management for agency use of AI
CSET: The executive order on safe, secure, and trustworthy AI: Decoding Biden’s AI policy roadmap
FedScoop: OSTP director stresses importance of AI talent search following executive order
White House: Biden-Harris administration issues landmark blueprint to advance American innovation, competition and security in wireless technologies
New York Times: New OMB rules will change how the federal government weighs costs, enabling new efforts on climate change and poverty


Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): Statements from the sixth bipartisan Senate forum on AI
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): Statements from the fifth bipartisan Senate forum on AI
E&E News: Sizing up Manchin’s legacy on energy, climate policy
E&E News: House China select committee has energy hang-ups
Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL): Bipartisan group introduces the National Coordination on Adaptation and Resilience for Security (NCARS) Act
Brennan Center: Building science and technology expertise in Congress

Science, Society, and the Economy

Financial Times: Biden’s flagship acts trigger subsidy wars
Financial Times: Ohio’s rustbelt turns into a magnet for chip fabs
DOE: DOE Isotope Program and QSA Global Inc. partner for domestic production of iridium-192
Nature: Why a climate researcher pushed the limits of low-carbon travel — and his employer’s patience
Science News: The early women who shaped science journalism
Issues in Science and Technology: Reflections on the 40th anniversary of Issues (perspective by Lisa Margonelli)
Issues in Science and Technology: What have the past 40 years taught us about the evolving relationship between science and society? (perspective by Kevin Finneran)

Education and Workforce

Government Executive: Scientific federal agencies have restaffed to pre-Trump levels
NSF: Eddie Bernice Johnson INCLUDES Initiative: Special report to the nation III
Undark Magazine: Some strategies used by universities to hire and retain women are not rooted in research (perspective by Lisa Munoz)
E&E News: DOE equity chief on Biden agenda, gas, and renaming her office (interview with Shalanda Baker)
Issues in Science and Technology: Centering equity and inclusion in STEM (perspectives)
Scientific American: Diversity in science includes cultural dress (perspective by Manasee Weerathunga)
World Nuclear News: Fusion report focuses on future workforce challenges
Nature: Why postdocs need entrepreneurship training (perspective by Muhammad Shehryar Khan and Jeffrey Casello)

Research Management

Science: Impending sale of scientifically critical helium sparks worries
Nature: Nature retracts controversial superconductivity paper by embattled physicist
Wall Street Journal: A series of high-profile retractions has raised questions about peer review
Nature: How big is science’s fake-paper problem?
Nature: Fundamental physics has progressed in leaps and bounds in the past century — driven by strong characters and often a complete disregard for health and safety (book review)
Science|Business: Elsevier introduces authoritative scientific datasets to fuel innovation in research-intensive industries
Science|Business: A new wave of support musters in the push for open access publishing
Research Professional: UNESCO offers to host international federation promoting open access with no charges
Research Professional: Radical open-access proposal needs to succeed (perspective by Daniel Spichtinger and Elena Šimukovič)

Labs and Facilities

New York Times: Investigators head to Antarctica research base after sexual violence claims
American Nuclear Society: JT-60SA is now the largest operating tokamak: What does that mean for ITER and JET?
PPPL: Fusion Energy Caucus gets firsthand look at PPPL’s research during recent visit
Physics World: New director looks to the future of the UK’s national labs (interview with Dave Newbold)
Brookhaven National Lab: Cathy Sue Cutler named chair of Isotope Research and Production Department
insideHPC: Gina Tourassi named Oak Ridge associate lab director for computing and computational sciences
Jefferson Lab: Jefferson Lab, ODU Launch Joint Institute on Advanced Computing for Environmental Studies
New York Times: Gazing into the past and future at historic observatories

Computing and Communications

Argonne National Lab: New international consortium formed to create trustworthy and reliable generative AI models for science
NSF: NSF and partners kick off the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Pilot Program
National Academies: How AI is shaping scientific discovery
Nature: A machine-learning tool can easily spot when chemistry papers are written using the chatbot ChatGPT
Breaking Defense: AI ethics: Pentagon about to roll out public web app to guide ‘responsible’ development
Commerce Department: Agreement reached with new organization, SemiUS, to operate National Semiconductor Technology Center once established
Defense Science Board: Executive summary of the Secure Electronic Processing Task Force report
CSIS: ‘Guardrails’ on CHIPS Act funding to restrict investments in China may restrict participation in CHIPS Act incentives
EE Times: Vietnam sets sights on becoming semiconductor hub


SpaceNews: VERITAS mission warns of risks of launch delay
Space Review: Big rockets for big science?
SpaceNews: Charting the course: A blueprint to continued US leadership in space (perspective by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX))
Space Review: The FCC’s authority in regulating orbital debris (perspective by Leighton Brown and Paul Stimers)
NASA: Bulgaria signs Artemis Accords at NASA headquarters, joins 31 nations
SpaceNews: ESA to start commercial cargo program

Weather, Climate, and Environment

NOAA: NOAA-21 satellite is now operational
White House: Interagency agreement reached to address wildfire risk and protect communities from smoke
New York Times: Environmental groups cut programs as funding shifts to climate change
E&E News: Biden official heads to COP28 on a minerals mission
NPR: The government may store carbon dioxide under the nation’s forests
New York Times: In a US first, a commercial plant starts pulling carbon from the air


New York Times: US bets on small nuclear reactors to help fix a huge climate problem
Science|Business: EU to launch industrial alliance on small nuclear reactors
E&E News: Republicans skeptical of government support for nascent energy technologies are avoiding criticism of NuScale failure
E&E News: Is advanced nuclear in trouble? What’s next after NuScale cancellation
American Nuclear Society: Centrus meets initial HALEU enrichment requirements with 20 kilogram delivery
DOE: DOE and the UK start partnership to accelerate fusion
New York Times: Start-ups with laser beams: The companies trying to ignite fusion energy
World Nuclear News: China completes ITER magnet support components
E&E News: Barrasso calls for ethics review of DOE loan official
New York Times: Fossil fuel use increasing, not decreasing, as key target looms


Politico: Pentagon UFO boss to step down next month
Politico: Interview with outgoing Pentagon UFO chief, physicist Sean Kirkpatrick
DOD: DOD announces deputy director for the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office
NNSA: NNSA deputy administrator visits six European countries to bolster nuclear security partnerships
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Why the congressional strategic posture report is not about nuclear deterrence, but warfighting (perspective by Tara Drozdenko)
Breaking Defense: UN takes ‘parallel’ paths on space security amid geopolitical rift
SpaceNews: Four bidders selected to develop ground systems for US missile-warning satellites


GAO: Public health preparedness: Building and maintaining infrastructure beyond the COVID-19 pandemic (report)
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Can’t quite develop that dangerous pathogen? AI may soon be able to help (perspective by Allison Berke)
Government Accountability Project: 11 organizations send comment to NIH on draft scientific integrity policy
Nature Biotechnology: Policy changes are needed to ensure that CRADAs and patent applications filed by NIH are aligned with the interests of the American public (perspective by Austin Wesevich and Mark Ratain)

International Affairs

Science: Isolated and diminished, scientists in Russia struggle in a world transformed by its war with Ukraine
Nature: US and India are becoming science partners of choice
Financial Times: Europe and the US won’t win the AI race by depriving themselves of talent (perspective by Anu Bradford)
South China Morning Post: As research grants in US hit 25-year low, China plans for exponential growth
Nature: China must draw on internal research strength (perspective by Cong Cao)
Nature: Researcher resignations from UKRI mount amid Israel–Hamas row
Research Professional: Australian science academy warns of security issues and increased barriers to partnerships
Nature: Cutting health and science support should not be an option in Argentina’s election (editorial)
Science|Business: Falling Walls 2023 round-up: Geopolitics, AI and exploited PhD students

More from FYI
An order by President Biden places new rules on developers of “dual use” AI models, proposes visa reforms to attract talent in AI and other critical technologies, and directs agencies to expand research on AI applications.
National Cancer Institute Director Monica Bertagnolli will take the helm of the National Institutes of Health. The agency has lacked a Senate-confirmed director for nearly two years.
NIST leaders say the agency is hiring more safety staff, overhauling its safety training, and pushing for facilities repairs in the wake of several high-profile incidents.
Leaders of the House Science Committee introduced legislation last week that would update the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018.
House appropriators are backing NASA’s imperiled Mars Sample Return mission and prospective NSF large facility projects, according to a newly posted document. The appropriators also elaborate on their proposals to reinstate the Justice Department’s China Initiative and block the White House’s policy requiring immediate free access to research publications.
The 21 medal winners include LIGO Director Barry Barish and former National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh.

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