Although there has been plenty of talk in the news about coal, we hope you save that for the energy folks. Please know that the ASBMB has been very good this year. We know we are asking for an early Christmas present, but the congressional lame duck session is finishing soon, and we hope you can fulfill our legislative wish list.
1. We wish Congress would pass an omnibus appropriations bill. While it passed a continuing resolution funding the government through Dec. 11, an omnibus appropriations bill would carry federal agencies through the end of the fiscal year. While previous reports indicated that the Senate and House committees overseeing appropriations for the National Institutes of Health may not be able to reach an agreement, recent news suggests otherwise.
2. We wish Congress would renew the research and development tax credit. The R&D tax credit ended in 2013. Both chambers of Congress have discussed its inclusion in a larger tax credits bill. However, some legislators are concerned that two of these credits–the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit–will be improperly used by undocumented immigrants. The President has issued a veto threat on any package that does not include the two credits.
3. We wish scientists could continue attending international conferences. Restrictions on the ability of government employees to travel abroad for conferences could limit scientists from attending scientific meetings. However, some in the U.S. House seem willing to exempt science and engineering conferences. Exemptions are already made for law enforcement training conferences.
4. We wish for help smoothing the frazzled relationship between the National Science Foundation and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. Rep. Smith, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, continues to confront the NSF over individual grants he deems outside the national interest. Opponents believe “funding only science that appears politically safe will stifle innovation.” In addition, there is worry that political interference during grant selection will undermine the peer review process and that attacks will spread to other federal funding agencies.
Photo credit: (letter) perrylocal.org, (holly) freechristmasclipart.org