August 3, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY RESEARCH AND INNOVATION ACT PASSES THE SENATE, MINUS A NUCLEAR REACTOR PROVISION

The Senate recently passed the House “Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act” by voice vote. In voting on the legislation, the Senate agreed to remove a provision that requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to build a “reactor-based fast neutron source, which shall operate as a national user facility.” The original provision required this facility to be completed by 2025.

The Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act provides the DOE with a policy framework for basic science research, nuclear energy research and development (R&D), research coordination and priorities, and changes to make the national laboratories more efficient and manageable. The legislation itself pulls language from several other pieces of legislation that were passed in the last congress, including the DOE Lab Modernization and Technology Transfer Act, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, and the Electricity Storage Innovation Act. It is broken down into four “titles” or sections:

  • Title I—Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer: Allows national labs more flexibility to partner with the private sector.
  • Title II—DOE Research Coordination: Reauthorizes a Strategic Research Portfolio Analysis, which will make it easier to identify areas for collaboration in science and applied research programs.
  • Title III—DOE Office of Science Policy: Outlines direction and priorities for basic research programs within the Office of Science, including the specific authorization of basic research programs in solar fuels, electricity storage, exascale computing and low dose radiation.
  • Title IV—Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities: Authorizes nuclear R&D activities at DOE

Now that the Senate has approved the House version of the bill, the House must accept the bill with the changes made by the Senate, or send it back. If the House approves the bill in its current form, it will go to the President.

To view the bill in its current form, click here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/589/


ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY REVERSES DECISION OF FORMER ADMINISTRATOR SCOTT PRUITT

In one of his final decisions prior to his departure, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA would no longer be enforcing the 2018-2019 production cap on glider trucks. Prior to this announcement, the 2018-2019 production limit that was imposed in January capped the number of glider trucks that could be produced at 300 per year.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler recently released a memo reversing this decision. “…after further consideration of the No Action Assurance and information before me…I have concluded that the application of current regulations to the glider industry does not represent the kind of extremely unusual circumstances that support the EPA’s exercise of enforcement discretion. I am therefore withdrawing the July 6, 2018, No Action Assurance.”

Prior to the imposition of the production cap in 2015, approximately 10,000 glider trucks were sold nationally. Before Pruitt departed EPA, a spokeswoman stated that the agency was considering delaying the production limit cap until December 2019, by which time it hoped to have the cap permanently repealed. In his new memo, Administrator Wheeler states that the agency will “move as expeditiously as possible on a regulatory revision regarding the requirements that apply to the introduction of glider vehicles into commerce to the extent consistent with statutory requirements and due consideration of air quality impacts.”

To view the memo recently released by Acting Administrator Wheeler, click here: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-07/documents/memo_re_withdrawal_of_conditional_naa_regarding_small_manufacturers_of_glider_vehicles_07-26-2018.pdf


PRESIDENT TRUMP NOMINATES METEROLOGIST DR. KELVIN DROEGEMEIER TO LEAD OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY

President Trump recently nominated Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as the new Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Earlier this year, Capitol Update reported that several Senators had written to President Trump expressing their concern that he had not yet appointed a Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Dr. Drogemeier is a meteorologist with strong ties to the National Science Foundation (NSF), serving as deputy director of the NSF Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS), cofounding the NSF Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, and serving for 12 years on the National Science Board. National Science Foundation Director France Cordova expressed his pleasure with the announcement, stating “I am grateful that such a champion of basic research has been selected for this important role.”

The role of OSTP is to advise the president on science-related issues as they pertain to the country’s economy, national security, foreign relations and environment. The office was formed over 40 years ago and sits under the Executive Office of the President. During the Obama administration, the office peaked with 135 employees. President Trump has reshaped the office since assuming the presidency. OSTP now currently has approximately 50 staff members, with a focus that has shifted more towards technology issues. 

Prior to Droegemeier’s nomination, OSTP was led by Michael Kratsios who serves as the Deputy Chief Technology Officer. The only remaining step to making this position official is Droegemeier’s confirmation by the Senate. If the Senate confirms his nomination, he will be the first Director of OSTP who is not a physicist to serve in the position since the creation of the office in 1976. “I think he is a very solid choice,” John Holdren, who led the OSTP for eight years as Obama’s science adviser told Science Magazine. “He is a respected senior scientist and he has experience in speaking science to power.”

For more information about OSTP, click here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/


FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION RELEASES NEW INNOVATION CHALLENGE SEEKING MEDICAL DEVICES TO TACKLE OPIOD EPIDEMIC

In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a new innovation challenge, titled Devices to Prevent and Treat Opioid Use Disorder, seeking medical devices that can help with the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder. Selected applicants will work directly with the FDA to help expedite the process of getting agency approval for devices aimed at addressing this epidemic. Breakthrough Device designation will be awarded to any applicant devices that meet statutory criteria.

For interested applicants, the challenge is seeking diagnostic or therapeutic medical devices— including mobile apps— that prevent and treat opioid use disorder. Devices at any stage of development are being accepted. Completed submissions must be no longer that 7 pages and include:

  • The novelty of the medical device/concept
  • The development plan for the medical device
  • The development team
  • The anticipated benefit of the device used by patients and the impact on public health as compared to available alternatives.

Completed applications must be submitted on or before September 30. The number of proposals selected will be based on the available resources and quality of submission.
For more information on how to apply, click here:   https://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofMedicalProductsandTobacco/CDRH/CDRHInnovation/ucm609082.htm


NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY SUMMIT SEEKS TO BOLSTER DEFENSES AGAINST THE NATION’S INFRASTRUCTURE

Earlier this week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hosted a National Cybersecurity Summit in New York. The event brought together leaders from a variety of sectors, including Government, academia, energy, finance and telecom industries to create a defense model aimed at protecting the nation’s infrastructure.  DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen attended, as did other administration leadership including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

“With the majority of critical infrastructure owned and operated by the private sector, it is essential that we maintain strong partnerships between DHS and the private sector to underpin our collective defense against the evolving threats we all face. Because of our increasing hyper-connectivity, cybersecurity remains a shared responsibility; too big for anyone acting alone.” Nielsen explained in the lead up to the event. Christopher C. Krebs, Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate also expressed his support for the event, stating, “There is an evident need for a coordinated, cross-sector, government-industry effort to protect our nation’s critical infrastructure from the growing cybersecurity threat.”

Along with developing a working model to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructures, a goal of the summit was to serve as a starting point got further DHS initiatives to advance cybersecurity and critical infrastructure risk management.

To view a webcast of the event, click here: https://www.us-cert.gov/event/dhs-national-cybersecurity-summit


CHAIR OF HOUSE TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE CALLS FOR BIPARTISAN COLLABORATION AS NEW DRAFT INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN RELEASED

Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently released a draft infrastructure plan. Earlier this year, Shuster had announced his intentions to introduce a new infrastructure bill prior to his retirement at the end of his current term.

Shuster’s new plan states the need for significant federal funds for infrastructure projects through at least 2021. The draft seeks to generate some of these funds through initiatives such as a 15-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline, and a 20-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel to be phased in over a three year period.

In the correspondingly released “Vision Statement” Shuster states that the draft is “intended to further the national conversation about the current state of America’ infrastructure and highlight some of the major roadblocks to funding and improving our transportation network.” However, he does make it clear that the legislation is still a draft. In an official press release he explained “This discussion draft does not represent a complete and final infrastructure bill. It is meant to reignite discussions amongst my colleagues, and I urge all Members to be open-minded and willing to work together in considering real solutions that will give America the modern day infrastructure it needs.”

To view the current draft infrastructure bill, click here: https://transportation.house.gov/uploadedfiles/infra_001_xml.pdf

The articles contained in Capitol Update are not positions of ASME or any of its sub-entities, unless specifically noted as such. This publication is designed to inform ASME members about issues of concern being debated and discussed in the halls of congress, in the states and in the federal agencies.

ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036

Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations

Paul Fakes is the Regulatory and Government Relations Manager, Technology Policy. He covers Standards and Energy and Environment.

Samantha Fijacko is the Senior Government Relations Representative. She covers Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and R&D.

Anne Nadler is the Government Relations Representative. She covers Bioengineering, STEM Education and R&D.