Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 6, 2015

Posts in "Appropriations/Budget"

March 3, 2015

Fun Fact: ‘Supernova Mikulski’

At least a couple stories on Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s, D-Md., announcement of her retirement on Monday remind us that a supernova was named in her honor a few years ago.

From Reuters: “In 2012, when NASA researchers in Baltimore discovered the fleeting glimmer of an exploding star, they named it ‘Supernova Mikulski,’ after one of their chief congressional patrons.”

A 2012 story by The Associated Press reported some details about the supernova and more:

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski is known for her outspoken support of space exploration.

On Thursday, she will have a supernova named after her at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

From a 2012 Heard on the Hill post:

The astronomers found Supernova Mikulski using the Hubble Space Telescope. About 7.4 billion light-years from Earth, it is not visible to the naked eye.

Space researchers have an affinity for Mikulski, which should come as no surprise because she’s the Senate appropriator charged with the NASA budget.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore will also be renamed in Mikulski’s honor. Data collected by both the Hubble and Webb telescopes will be held at the institute.

Mikulski is the longest-serving woman in Congress, the first woman to helm the Senate Appropriations Committee and has been the top Democrat on the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee for years.

March 2, 2015

The Week Ahead: American Cable Association Summit and Budget, Cybersecurity Hearings

The American Cable Association holds its summit and congressional committees hold cybersecurity hearings as well as budget hearings on NASA, the Federal Communications Commission and the Commerce Department this week.


Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology discusses net neutrality at the American Enterprise Institute.

The Center for Strategic & International Studies hosts a panel event on the Internet of Things and the transportation industry.

The German Marshall Fund of the United States hosts an event titled “Internet Freedom 2.1: Lessons from Asia’s Developing Democracies.”


A House Appropriations subcommittee holds a Commerce Department budget hearing.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee has a cybersecurity hearing.


The American Cable Association holds its summit, which continues on Thursday.

The Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Innovation Alliance, the Medical Device Manufacturers Association, and the National Venture Capital Association host a patent event.

A House Appropriations subcommittee holds a NASA budget hearing.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing titled “Reauthorization of the Federal Communications Commission: The FCC’s FY 2016 Budget Request.”

A House Homeland Security subcommittee holds a hearing titled “Industry Perspectives on the President’s Cybersecurity Information Sharing Proposal.”

New America hosts an event on technology and disability.


The House Intelligence Committee holds a cybersecurity hearing.

A Senate Appropriations subcommittee holds a hearing on NASA’s fiscal 2016 budget request.


USTelecom hosts a cybersecurity event.

February 23, 2015

The Week Ahead: FCC Vote on Net Neutrality Rules and More

It’s a big week in Washington with the Federal Communications Commission’s vote on net neutrality rules. A slew of events and congressional hearings are also on tap. Get ready for a busy, busy week, folks.


New America hosts a day-long event titled “Cybersecurity for a New America: Big Ideas and New Voices.”


COMPTEL hosts a day-long policy summit.

The Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy hosts an event on rewriting the 1934 Communications Act.

The Hudson Institute hosts an event titled “American Broadband Under Title II.”

A subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a space exploration hearing.

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation hosts an event on cross-border data flows.


A House Appropriations subcommittee holds an oversight hearing on the Justice and Commerce Departments and NASA.

A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on the net neutrality proposal before the Federal Communications Commission.

The House Homeland Security Committee holds a hearing on the President’s cybersecurity information-sharing proposal.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a hearing titled “FCC Process: Examining the Relationship Between the FCC and the White House.”

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation hosts a panel discussion on net neutrality and network management.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a hearing titled “Preserving the Multistakeholder Model of Internet Governance.”


BakerHostetler hosts a day-long symposium on Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

The Federal Communications Commission votes on net neutrality rules and an order addressing two municipal broadband petitions.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on patent demand letters, which allege someone is infringing on a patent.

The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the U.S. Copyright Office.

The heads of the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology testify beforeHouse Science, Space and Technology subcommittee on their fiscal 2016 budget requests.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker testifies beforeSenate Appropriations subcommittee on the department’s fiscal 2016 budget request.


A House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee holds a hearing on NASA’s commercial crew program.

February 6, 2015

Weekly Wrapup: Net Neutrality, President’s Budget Request and That DeLorean on the Hill

The big news this week, of course, was Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s unveiling of his proposal for net neutrality rules. Technocrat’s posts this week included that big topic as well as President Barack Obama‘s fiscal 2016 budget request, why you might have seen a DeLorean around the Hill, and more.

Wheeler Announces Net Neutrality Proposal

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler says he’ll circulate to fellow commissioners this week a proposal for net neutrality rules that would treat Internet providers as common carriers, using Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, the same portion of law the agency uses to regulate phone companies and other common carriers.

Q&A: AAAS’ Matt Hourihan

President Barack Obama recently released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2016, and Technocrat chatted with Matt Hourihan of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences about some science and research issues proposed in previous budgets that have and haven’t been embraced by lawmakers.

Obama’s Budget on Cybersecurity, Digital Service Teams and Commercial Crew:

Here’s a look at some of the Obama administration’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal to Congress on the issues of cybersecurity, digital service teams and NASA’s commercial crew program…

What Was The Deal With That DeLorean You Might Have Spotted Today?

You might have spotted a DeLorean around the Hill on Thursday and if you’re wondering why, it’s part of a campaign by Americans for Tax Reform to bring attention to their call for an update to tech laws they say are outdated.

Should Computer Science Be Counted as a Foreign Language Class?

Some states have been proposing or advancing legislation to let computer science classes be counted as a foreign language either to meet high school graduation or college admissions requirements. You can add Washington to the list of states looking at this matter.


February 3, 2015

Q&A: AAAS’ Matt Hourihan

(Photo credit: AAAS)

(Photo credit: AAAS)

President Barack Obama recently released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2016, and Technocrat chatted with Matt Hourihan of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences about some science and research issues proposed in previous budgets that have and haven’t been embraced by lawmakers.

Q: What are some science issues in past budget proposals that have found support from Congress over the past few years?

A: …Certain areas that Congress does seem to favor. I think you’d have to include some of the exploration programs at NASA. Development of the Orion crew capsule. Funding for development of a variety of space exploration, you know, manned space exploration programs. I mean, the last year’s budget, Congress restored quite a bit of funding. Those programs had been slated for some cuts last year. And generally speaking, the administration’s budget isn’t always incredibly generous with NASA. And Congress often seems to restore funding for certain components related to space exploration.

I think life sciences research remains pretty popular in Congress. Obviously there are, even now there are quite a few legislative proposals that attempt to increase funding for NIH. Things like the BRAIN Initiative have been met with pretty broad support.

Advanced computing is also an area that Congress seems quite willing to grant increases and there are advanced computing programs at NSF, at the Office of Science at DOE and these are areas that seem to do pretty well year in and year out compared to certain other areas with appropriators.

Q: Are you saying these are areas – manned exploration, life sciences, advanced computing – these are areas that Congress and the President agree on or that these are areas that [lawmakers] favor?

A: So manned space exploration, Congress definitely seems, in the last couple years at least they’ve seemed more generous than the Administration on some of those programs.

But advanced computing and life sciences… those are areas where I think there is a lot of agreement…. the Administration and Congress do seem to see eye to eye on many advanced computing programs. Although, again, at times Congress is more generous. But overall, advanced computing and some of the neuroscience research those are not areas where there’s a whole lot of disagreement I don’t think.

Q: When it comes to the President’s budget proposals in recent years, what are some particular issues that haven’t found backing from Congress?

A: Well, advanced manufacturing is a big one. In particular, the Administration has definitely proposed some pretty aggressive budgets in the advanced manufacturing realm. In particular, this recurring idea to establish a major national network of manufacturing innovation institutes. It will require a good bit of funding. There are many in Congress who like the idea, but so far, the full funding hasn’t been realized, the full plan hasn’t been realized. The Administration has been kind of slowly building out the network piece by piece. Ultimately, I think they want over 40 of these manufacturing institutes around the country and they’ve been asking Congress for funding to make that happen and Congress hasn’t provided the funding for the full network, but the Administration has been able to piece together… they’ve got several that are either up and running or in the works.

So that’s one area….

Climate research in certain areas – that’s been a much harder argument to win… I should say not even just climate change research, but environmental research overall. EPA’s budget has been declining. Climate research at NOAA has been for years been a hot button issue. Environmental research in the Department of Energy, within the Office of Science there’s a biological and environment research program. That’s always an area of controversy. It usually falls along partisan lines.

A lot of the big infrastructure proposals haven’t been embraced. Again, high-speed rail is always an issue that meets with opposition in Congress and the related technology funding….

Those are the big ones I think.

[Edited for length]

February 2, 2015

Obama’s Budget on Cybersecurity, Digital Service Teams and Commercial Crew

Here’s a look at some of the Obama administration’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal to Congress on the issues of cybersecurity, digital service teams and NASA’s commercial crew program:

  • CQ Roll Call’s Shawn Zeller reports that President Obama’s budget request on Monday “raises the ante” in protecting government, business and consumers from cyberattacks.

He reports (subscription): “The administration pledges $14 billion — $1 billion more than the current year — toward securing government computers, working with the private sector to protect its technological infrastructure and conducting more research on how to stop hackers from stealing information.”

  • The NASA budget proposed a very small increase for the overall agency, but a big boost for its commercial crew program. The agency proposed $1.2 billion for the commercial crew program, which would be $439 million, or 55 percent, more than the fiscal 2015 level.

In September, NASA announced contracts for Boeing and SpaceX to complete development of systems to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. After certification, the companies will conduct between two and six crewed missions to the space station.

NASA has been relying on the Russia Soyuz vehicle to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station and the agency has been trying to aid development of U.S. private companies’ capabilities to transport the agency’s astronauts to the space station instead.

NASA Chief Financial Officer David Radzanowski told reporters on Monday that the funding level requested for commercial crew reflects contracts with those companies and milestones laid out in them. If the companies achieve them, then NASA would need $1.2 billion, he said.



January 30, 2015

Weekly Wrapup: Internet of Things, Internet Governance and NASA Budget

Among the news this week, the Federal Communications Commission changed its definition of what constitutes advanced Internet access and Google Fiber announced four more metropolitan areas where it would deploy. At Technocrat, we had posts for you on the Internet of Things, Sen. John Thune’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute and more.

  • The Federal Trade Commission released a staff report on the Internet of Things. Among the takeaways was the report’s determination that it’s “preemptive” to enact legislation specific to this area of technology.
  • If you’re lucky enough to go to the Super Bowl, the Federal Aviation Administration reminds you not to fly your drone.

December 22, 2014

December 12, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: E-Rate Funding Cap Increase, Internet Tax Moratorium and IP Nominees

Among the happenings this week: the Federal Communications Commission increased the funding cap on the E-Rate program, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on intellectual property nominees, and the spending package to fund the federal government includes provisions such as an extension of the Internet tax moratorium.

  • The House passed a spending package to fund the federal government that includes an extension of the Internet tax moratorium through Oct. 1, 2015. It also includes a provision that would block the National Telecommunications and Information Administration from relinquishing its responsibilities over Internet domain names and other domain functions. The NTIA wants to shift those duties to organizations with a stake in the Internet, but Republicans have opposed the change. The Senate’s now considering the package.
  • The Federal Communications Commission approved a measure that would raise by $1.5 billion the funding cap for the E-Rate program that helps schools and libraries pay for Internet access. And since the program’s supported by Universal Service Fund fees, consumers will see up to $1.90 in additional fees on their phone bills each year.
  • Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, who is expected to be the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee, made clear that the nominations of Michelle K. Lee to be director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Daniel H. Marti to be the White House’s intellectual property enforcement coordinator, wouldn’t advance in the 113th Congress, since there wasn’t enough time. But he also indicated that the nominations might be acted on early in the next Congress.
  • Technocrat had a Q&A with University of North Carolina law professor William P. Marshall about the Supreme Court case involving violent comments made on Facebook. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
  • The Telecommunications Industry Association organized a letter to FCC commissioners and House and Senate leaders opposing proposals to reclassify broadband as a common carrier as part of the FCC’s rewrite of net neutrality rules. Sixty companies signed on including IBM, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Cisco, and dLink.
  • BSA | The Software Alliance released a survey of roughly 1,500 business owners and decision makers in the U.S. and Europe on data analytics and among its U.S. findings: While 33 percent thought more than 10 percent of their company’s growth will be related to data analytics this year, 58 percent thought the same looking five years from now.

November 3, 2014

The Week Ahead: Antitrust, Crypto-Currencies and Farming & Space Tech Transfer

Attention will be focused on the mid-term elections this week, but there are other events happening as well that cover issues including antitrust, crypto-currencies and farming and space tech transfer.

Full story

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