A First for Federal Policy Week

(This was first publish August 25, 2012)

Timely Topics

The Ryan Budget


Congressman Ryan (R-WI) led the Budget effort in the House of Representatives.  Now that he is the presumptive Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, I thought it would be a good time to re-examine the potential implications if his budget is implemented by the next Administration.

The Ryan budget would have significant implications for scientific research and development, K-12 education, higher education, and energy.

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), its analysis shows that the Ryan Budget would significantly decrease funding for R&D.  Some of the key findings in the AAAS document include:

·      A potential reduction in total baseline spending on R&D by three percent compared to FY12 (and five percent for non-defense spending).

·      Over the next ten years, nondefense R&D could be cut almost 27 percent compared to the Presidents budget request.

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education further explores the impacts of the Ryan budget on education, as well as Congressman Ryan’s approach and views on key topics.  Some highlights from the article include:

·      The Ryan budget places restrictions on Pell Grant program eligibility, including eliminating eligibility for students who do not attend college at least half-time.

·      Congressman Ryan strongly supports for-profit colleges.

·      Congressman Ryan believes education investments should come from the States.

Capitol News: Legislation, Administrative Actions, Courts, and much more.

While Members of Congress continues their state work periods, plenty is still happening as the Obama Administration, Romney-Ryan campaign, and Members of Congress advocate for or announce new policy efforts.


The Obama Administration announced a new public-private partnership pilot program in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania that leverages federal, private and state funding for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) as part of the Administration’s We Can’t Wait initiative.  NAMII is lead by National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining and its members include 40 companies, nine research universities, five community colleges, and 11 non-profit groups.

The Administration created an Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) in July 2011 to focus on rebuilding manufacturing in the US. The AMP released its findings in July of this year in the report Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing.


The Romney-Ryan campaign just released its energy plan, which has goals of making the US energy independent by the year 2020, creating three million jobs, adding $500 billion to GDP, and lowering energy prices for middle-class families and “job creators.”  Highlights of the Romney-Ryan energy plan include:

  • Allowing states to control energy development within their borders, including federal lands not specifically excluded.
  • Open off-shore areas for aggressive development.
  • Approve Keystone XL pipeline.
  • “Modernize” environmental statutes and regulations.
  • Support government-funded research for all sources of energy.


Comprehensive immigration efforts have failed to gain sufficient traction in DC.  Piecemeal legislative efforts, most notably The DREAM Act, which provides some undocumented children a conditional path to citizenship and requires at least two years of service in the military or a college degree. Member continue to support other efforts, including the SMART Jobs Act, focus on providing additional visas and green cards to STEM graduates of American universities.

The Obama Administration started a new program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which provides some undocumented children an opportunity to remain and potentially work in the US temporarily.

Nuclear Waste Fuel Storage

When the Obama Administration ended the permanent repository for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, it created a Blue Ribbon Council (BRC) to look at options for waste disposal.  The BRC released its final report in January 2012. Among others, the BRC recommended the creation of a new, independent, federally funded organization focused on storage and disposal of nuclear waste fuel.  Senator Bingaman (D-NM), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, recently announced his intention to hold a hearing in September on his legislation creating a new Nuclear Waste Administration.

Noteworthy News in Print

The New York Times article on special collections at universities, In University Holdings, Entry to History and Culture, delves into the opportunities presented for both scholars and the general public when these special collections, whether art, literature, music, science, or historical in nature, are made widely available.  As federal policy makers look more critically at higher education, universities can share the myriad ways in which they benefit and educate their local communities.

A recent poll conducted for the Civil Society Institute revealed that most Americans are concerned with drought and extreme weather conditions.  A majority of those polled also believe the US should focus on energy production methods that require less water.  The clear majority of Americans, especially residents in states savaged by the recent drought, responded that climate change is real or happening.

According to ClimateWire, at least one of most impacted groups from the drought, farmers in the Midwest, still have reservations.  Despite dramatic changes over the decade, only 68% of farmers in said agreed that there were changes in the environment, and a mere 10 percent the changes to the actions of humans.

Time will tell whether the recent drought and extreme weather will stimulate action in Congress to address climate change.

Links of Interest:

The Washington Post’s “US Congress Votes Database” has extensive information of Congressional Members votes since 1991.


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