As has become the pattern in recent years, Congress was not able to complete work on fiscal year 2005 spending bills for most agencies prior to the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. As a result, Congress has approved a Continuing Resolution. The CR provides federal agencies for which Congress has yet to approve a new budget with funding at current year (FY 04) levels through November 20. Most believe that Congress will suspend its work in mid-October to hit the campaign trail, returning to Washington in mid-November for a lame duck session in which it will complete work on the FY 05 appropriations legislation and some other remaining business. As noted in recent AIBS Public Policy Reports the House and Senate have each made progress in recent weeks on several different spending bills of interest to scientists and science educators. However, none of these measures have been signed into law.
Thirty scientists visited Washington, D.C. on September 28th and 29th as part of a Congressional Visits Day co-hosted by the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) and the Coalition on Funding for Agricultural Research Missions (CoFARM). The Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition is co-chaired by AIBS and the Ecological Society of America (ESA). BESC promotes federal support of the non-medical biological sciences. The Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions (CoFARM) focuses on the advancement of agricultural research. While BESC and CoFARM traditionally participate in the science-wide Congressional Visits Day in the spring of each year, the groups decided to hold a second event in the fall to specifically raise awareness of issues related to biology and agriculture.
In addition to the ESA participants, representatives of three AIBS member societies participated: Linda Schaffner (representing the Estuarine Research Federation), Albert McCullough (Society of Wetland Scientists), and Kevin Omland (American Ornithologists Union). AIBS President Joel Cracraft also participated in the event.
Prior to their Hill visits, scientists heard about the budget outlook from federal officials at a panel briefing. Panelists were Jean Fruci (House Science Committee), Anna Pamisano (USDA), and Margarent Leinen (National Science Foundation). Following the briefing, participants attended a reception in the House of Representatives in honor of Rep. David Price (see next story). Several members of Congress and their staff attended the reception.
On the final day of the event, participants conducted small group meetings with members of Congress. The AIBS delegation met with staff from the offices of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), Sen. Charles Shumer (D-NY), Sen. Hilary Clinton (D-NY), and Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD).
BESC and CoFARM plan to conduct this event each year in the fall. If you are interested in participating, please contact the AIBS Public Policy Office ().
Two Washington, DC-based science coalitions honored Congressman David Price (D-NC) for his dedication to scientific research and education. The Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) promotes federal support of the non-medical biological sciences. The Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions (CoFARM) focuses on the advancement of agricultural research.
Dr. John Havlin of North Carolina State University and member of CoFARM presented Dr. Price with the award. "CoFARM and BESC recognize and thank you for your dedication to science," said Dr. Havlin.
Representative Price has been a tireless supporter of increased federal funding for scientific and environmental research. He serves on the Appropriations Committee and its Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies Subcommittee, where he has worked in support of strong funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the primary funding agency for environmental biology.
Mr. Price has also been a strong supporter of agricultural research, and has fought for increased funding for the National Research Initiative, the Agricultural Research Service, and the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. He secured the federal funding that established North Carolina State University's Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center and over $4 million for the Center's research activities. Mr. Price has also focused on providing additional resources for environmental and ecological research, making possible a research partnership between EPA and North Carolina Central University to determine pollutant exposures and risks in minority and disadvantaged communities. Mr. Price was also the primary House sponsor of legislation that established the Advanced Technological Education program at NSF.
Representative Price holds a Ph.D. in political science and taught at Duke University before serving in Congress. He is the author of four books on the American political process, and received numerous public service awards.
Previous award winners are: Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI; 2004) and Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI; 2003).
On 4 October 2004, the governing council of the Biological Society of Washington issued a new statement regarding the societies' publication of a pro intelligent design paper authored by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute's Stephen C. Meyer. As previously noted in the 13 September 2004 AIBS Public Policy Report, the society notes that journal review procedures were not followed and BSW leadership were not aware that the paper was to be published. The 4 October statement reiterates that if normal procedures had been followed the article would not have been published. Furthermore, the statement makes clear that the journal will not publish a rebuttal, because the subject area is outside of the traditional descriptive systematics for which the journal is known. The new statement also criticized the scientific quality of the article, stating that it "does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings." The decision to publish the Meyer's paper was made by the Proceedings former editor, intelligent design advocate, Richard von Sternberg. For the complete statement please visit the Biological Society of Washington's website. Additional information on this matter may be obtained by visiting the National Center for Science Education.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) has announced plans to undertake the largest renovation in its history; the result will be the creation of the new Ocean Hall. The $60 million Ocean's Science Initiative will merge public exhibitions with cutting edge research facilities in a 28,000 square foot hall scheduled to open in 2008. Highlights of the new exhibit will include a 50-foot-long model of a northern right whale, a living coral reef, a captured giant squid, and an immersion theater that will enable visitors to experience the feel of diving into the deep ocean.
The October 2004 BioScience Washington Watch article is now available.
"Many in the scientific community have expressed concerns that post-9/11 delays in visa processing are deterring foreign students and scientists from studying or working in the United States. Yet few have discussed the larger question: Just what is-or should be-the role of foreign scholars in US science?"
Each week the AIBS Public Policy Office monitors the Federal Register for official notices, such as proposed regulations or agency guidance that may impact the conduct of science or science education. Relevant notices are compiled into the AIBS Federal Register Resource.
Some recent items of interest for the week of 4-8 October include:
From EPA: Notice of availability of new papers addressing scientific issues in the risk assessment of metals
From HHS: An amendment of February 4, 2004, order to embargo bird and bird products imported from Malaysia Notice of public meeting on radioactive drugs for certain research uses
From Interior: A request for comments from the USGS on the continued need to collect data for the breeding bird survey
Notice of public meeting for the Advisory Committees on Environmental Research and Education
Notice of open meeting of the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering
Notice of open meeting of the Advisory Committee for Education and Human Resources
Notice of open meeting of the Advisory Committee for Geosciences
Notice of open meeting of the Advisory Committee for Mathematical and Physical Sciences