Lawmakers Enact Temporary Spending Bill Just in Time

President Obama has signed into law a spending measure that will keep the federal government open through 9 December. H.R. 5325 was passed by Congress and enacted just two days before the end of the fiscal year. After clearing the measure, many members of Congress left Washington, DC to return to their districts to recommence campaigning. One third of Senators and all members of the House of Representatives are up for re-election on November 8th. Congress will reconvene in mid-November.

The legislation was required as an interim measure until the 12 appropriations bills that collectively fund the federal government are enacted. To date, only one of the appropriations bills has been enacted; it was included in the law funding the government for the next 10 weeks.

The stopgap spending bill passed overwhelmingly in both chambers. It passed the Senate 72 to 26, with dissenting votes coming nearly equally from Republicans and Democrats. In the House, H.R. 5325 passed 342-85; 75 of the ‘no’ votes came from Republicans.

H.R. 5325 funds nearly all government programs at 2016 levels for the next two and half months. A few programs, including military construction and veterans affairs programs, received additional funding. The legislation also includes $1.1 billion to combat Zika virus and $500 million in aid for three states impacted by recent floods.

Prior to final passage, Senate Democrats threatened to block the measure to protest the fact that the spending package did not contain aid to address lead in drinking water in Flint, Michigan. Lawmakers reached a deal on this impasse last week when the House amended and passed the Water Resources Development Act (H.R. 5303), which includes $170 million in aid for cities to repair or replace water infrastructure. The Senate version of the act includes $220 million to help communities with lead-contaminated water supplies.

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Climate Change Now Part of National Security Considerations

On 21 September, President Obama directed the federal government to consider the impacts of climate change in the development of national security-related doctrine, policies, and plans.

“There is current and growing attention paid by national security experts to ways in which climate impacts are adversely affecting national security now, and will stress national security even more dramatically in the coming decades,” according to a factsheet released by the White House. “In additional to tackling the impacts from climate change by reducing emissions, there is a need for increased collaboration among the climate science, intelligence, and national security policy communities to prepare for the impacts that we can no longer avoid.”

The new presidential memorandum establishes a dedicated federal Climate and National Security Working Group, which will include more than 20 federal agencies and offices with climate science, intelligence, and national security responsibilities. The working group will create an action plan within 90 days.

In addition, individual agencies are required to develop implementation plans to address climate-related hazards and threats to national security.

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Update on Presidential Science Debate

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has responded to a set of 20 questions posed by the scientific community about science policy issues. The other three major candidates had previously responded. Read what the candidates had to say about biodiversity, climate change, research funding, science education, and more at http://sciencedebate.org/20answers.

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Upcoming Briefing on the Role of Radioecology in National Security

The Association of Ecosystem Research Centers will be holding a briefing for policymakers on the role of radioecology in nuclear security. The event is free and open to the public.

October 6, 2016 10:30-11:30 AM SVC-209, Capitol Visitor Center Washington, DC

RSVP at https://www.aibs.org/rsvp/aerc.html

Speakers

Dr. Thomas Hinton
Professor, Institute of Environmental Radioactivity, Fukushima University
Former Coordinator of the European Union’s Strategy for Allied Radioecology Network
“The Hidden Roles of Radioecology in National Security: Why Radioecology Matters”

Dr. Francois Brechignac
General Secretary of the International Union of Radioecologists
Scientific Director Deputy of France’s Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety
“Radioecology and Our Future: Radioecology’s Contribution to Preserving Ecosystem Health”

Dr. Olin Rhodes
Director of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
Professor in the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology
President of the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
“Radioecology in Practice: Examples from the Savannah River Site”

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Funding Available for Gulf of Mexico Research

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) has released a new call for research proposals, which will be the last round of funding by the organization to support research directed at improving our understanding of the effects of oil on the environment and people of the Gulf of Mexico region. The GoMRI program is scheduled to complete its work in 2020.

This request for proposals (RFP-VI) will provide funding for up to two years (2018-2019). RFP-VI will receive submissions from Individual Investigator/Collaborations and Research Consortia.

GoMRI RFP-VI awards will total about $32.5 million per year for the next two years. It is anticipated that approximately 20 Individual Investigator/Collaborations and 10 Research Consortium awards will be made.

RFP-VI will consider applications focused on the designated research themes and topics, data integration, synthesis across themes and consortia, and overarching science and technology.

Those interested in submitting proposals for RFP-VI must submit a letter of intent by 14 November 2016. Full proposals must be received by 3 March 2017. It is anticipated that awards will be announced in September 2017, with start dates in January 2018.

Applicants are instructed to consult official RFP-VI guidance at http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/request-for-proposals/rfp-vi/.

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Become an Advocate for Science: Join the AIBS Legislative Action Center

Quick, free, easy, effective, impactful! Join the AIBS Legislative Action Center.

The Legislative Action Center is a one-stop shop for learning about and influencing science policy. Through the website, users can contact elected officials and sign-up to interact with lawmakers.

The website offers tools and resources to inform researchers about recent policy developments. The site also announces opportunities to serve on federal advisory boards and to comment on federal regulations.

This new tool is made possible through contributions from the Society for the Study of Evolution, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, and the Botanical Society of America.

AIBS and our partner organizations invite scientists and science educators to become policy advocates today. Simply go to policy.aibs.org to get started.

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