In the second quarter of 2021, Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration have actively pursued policy priorities important to the chemistry enterprise and to ACS members. In the past three months, the administration has started by nominating seasoned scientists to key leadership roles. Dr. Eric Lander’s nomination to Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was completed with a Senate confirmation. He now serves as President Biden’s science advisor and is the first OSTP Director to hold a seat in a U.S. President’s Cabinet. In his role, Dr. Lander will play a key role in advancing the Biden Administration’s research agenda and helping to ensure U.S. scientific leadership.
The administration also nominated two chemists to lead DOE Research programs. In April, Drs. Geraldine Richmond and Asmeret Berhe were nominated as Under Secretary for Science and Energy and Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy respectively.
Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration released the President’s Budget Request (PBR) for fiscal year 2022. While the PBR does not appropriate funds directly, it serves as an important documentation of the administration’s priorities. Congress is now working to set the budget, and may or may not follow the PBR. To follow how the Biden-Harris Administration prioritized federal chemistry programs, visit ACS’ FY-2022 budget website.
On the Congressional side, the Senate and House of Representatives have been busy introducing legislation aimed at maintaining a vibrant U.S. innovation ecosystem by proposing significant increases of U.S. government resources for Science and Technology. The Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, S. 1260 by 68 votes, while the House passed the DOE Science for the Future Act, H.R. 3593 and the NSF for the Future Act, H.R. 2225 by 351 and 345 votes respectively. The Senate bill takes a broader approach compared to the narrower approach of the House bills. Now, the two chambers will try to reconcile the three bills into one legislative vehicle and ACS looks forward to working with allies in the House and Senate to pass a bill that takes all stakeholder input into consideration.
The Senate and House also took action recently under the Congressional Review Act to reverse an EPA methane rule finalized under the Trump Administration. The EPA rule eliminated a 2016 requirement that oil and gas companies monitor and limit methane leaks from operations. Methane is a potent GHG, the emissions of which must be reduced to combat climate change. ACS supports efforts to ensure GHG emissions are curbed. The measure will be sent to the White House where President Biden is expected to sign it.
To stay up to date on ACS policy and advocacy efforts, sign up for the Act4Chemistry Legislative Action Network.
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