congress

No budget, but lame duck Congress passes innovation bills

While Congress was unable to pass a budget before funding ran out, legislators did advance multiple innovation-related proposals. Here is a quick summary of what the lame duck session did (and did not do) for tech-based economic development.

New legislative activity during the lame duck session:

Congressional elections may shake up federal science, innovation policy

Tuesday’s elections resulted in a Democratic majority in the House, but the changes for the next Congress go far beyond this outcome. Flipping party control means new chairs for every committee in the House; many Senate Republicans in leadership positions are reaching their party’s term limits, yielding new committee seniority; and, retirements and incumbent losses yield further changes. For the bipartisan issues of science and innovation, this shake up will produce new opportunities and uncertainties.

What the midterms may hold for science and innovation policy

SSTI board member Bruce Mehlman, a former George W. Bush administration official and founder of Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, recently published a midterm election presentation that has been discussed by numerous DC publications. Mehlman included an analysis of the last 10 senatorial midterm elections (see slide 15). The results suggest that incumbent senators of a different party than the president are very likely to win reelection, even in states carried by the president.

Startup Act would reauthorize Regional Innovation Strategies, implement commercialization grants

Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) along with Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)  introduced the Startup Act today – legislation that would help regions throughout the country address critical gaps between R&D and economic prosperity. SSTI has worked with the offices on sections of the bill that reauthorize and expand the Regional Innovation Strategies program and would implement a new commercialization grants program. SSTI supports the Startup Act (S. 1877) and calls upon other senators to cosponsor this bill and for the House to take up the legislation.

Congress sends mixed signals on evidence-based programming

In an unexpected twist, the FY 2017 budget passed earlier this month by Congress has more dislikes than likes for evidence-based program and policy design, despite being embraced strongly by both Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama. Masked under a variety of different nomenclatures – performance contracting, social impact bonds, pay for success, for example – evidence-based programming incorporates rigorous metrics to assess the effectiveness of public policy toward meeting its goals and basing expenditures accordingly.

House Science Committee advancing R&D changes

The U.S. House Science Committee released a letter last week reasserting the majority party’s interest in setting R&D priorities for federal science agencies and supporting appropriation levels that generally align with the White House’s budget blueprint. The letter notes priorities for most of the $42 billion in R&D budgets within the committee’s purview.

Legislative & Federal News for March 2, 2017

This week we take a look at the Trump administration's proposed $54 billion increase in defense spending, NDD United's letter to Congress (which SSTI signed), and testimony in favor of TBED funding.

Help support federal data

C2ER is sharing a letter to Congress that describes the value of federal data collection and publication, including the census, employment information, R&D spending and much more, for private- and public-sector decision making, individual choice and democratic institutions.

Slew of innovation bills introduced, pass US House

The U. S. House of Representatives wasted no time at the start of the new Congress, passing seven bills Tuesday that had been approved by the chamber in a previous session but had not received consideration in the Senate. Four of these bills with particular relevance to the innovation community are the HALOS Act, TALENT Act, Leveraging Emerging Technologies Act of 2017  and Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.

COMPETES Act Reauthorized without Funding

Last week, Congress passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084), which reauthorizes the America COMPETES Act. The Act does not include any funding levels for any of the programs or agencies reauthorized in the bill but does reinforce Congress’s support for research and makes adjustments to some programs. One crucial component of the bill adjusts the cost share requirement for NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership to 1:1 throughout the new authorization period.

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