Yesterday, Americans voted for delegates to the entire U.S. House of Representatives and for 36 U.S. Senate seats, and Republicans gained control of the Senate. The ASBMB Policy Blotter reported on the potential effects of the elections on scientists. An updated list of the results from close races where incumbents were members of science committees or subcommittees can be found in Table 1 below. Table 2 details the jurisdictions of each committee and subcommittee. Given the change in the Senate majority, the committee leadership will also change.
The 114th Congress will take office on or shortly after Jan. 3, 2015. Before the new Congress is sworn in, the last session of the 113th Congress (also called the “lame-duck session”) will address how to fund the remainder of fiscal 2015. We have covered this topic here. Republicans could try to postpone the decision to the next Congress with another continuing resolution. However, it does seem like most members of both parties prefer an omnibus appropriations bill. A decision must be made by Dec. 11, when the current continuing resolution expires.
Beyond FY15 funding, it is unclear what legislation will come up for a vote during the lame-duck session, which both chambers will convene for on Nov. 12. A vote on the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act introduced by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and the companion bill in the House is possible. U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, recently proposed the Invest for a Healthy Future Act, although there is not currently a companion bill in the House. There are also a number of bills to revive the R&D Tax Credit.
Regardless of what occurs during the lame-duck session, the 114th Congress has a number of potential science-related issues to address. Science Insider has covered these extensively. You can also expect to see the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and its chairman, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, continue to confront the National Science Foundation on matters of merit review.
The ASBMB Policy Blotter will have up-to-date coverage of the lame-duck session and the 114th Congress, and you can follow the blog to receive notifications of new articles via email.