The Senate will vote Monday evening on amendments to the fiscal 2009 omnibus spending package, with a new goal of finishing the bill by Tuesday.
The Senate Finance Committee holds confirmation hearings on the nomination of Ron Kirk to be U.S. trade representative.
Later in the week, the Senate may turn to a House-passed bill of mortgage-related provisions, and the House may try to return to a postponed bill to expand House membership for the District of Columbia and Utah.
The Office of Federal Relations has drafted an overview of the research funding provided in the various funding vehicles (i.e. FY09/FY10/FY11 appropriations, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) currently circulating in Congress and/or the federal agencies. Please contact the Office of Federal Relations with any questions on the document.
Federal Research Funding Overview
Department of Education Press Release
FOR RELEASE: March 7, 2009
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that $44 billion in stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will be available to states in the next 30 to 45 days. The first round of funding will help avert hundreds of thousands of estimated teacher layoffs in schools and school districts while driving crucial education improvements, reforms, and results for students.
“These funds will be distributed as quickly as possible to save and create jobs and improve education, and will be invested as transparently as possible so we can measure the impact in the classroom,” said Duncan. “Strict reporting requirements will ensure that Americans know exactly how their money is being spent and how their schools are being improved.”
Guidelines posted by Duncan today authorize the release this month of half the Title I, Part A stimulus funds, amounting to $5 billion, and half the funds for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $6 billion, without new applications. (more…)
On March 5th, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made available on its website additional information and announcements about grant opportunities created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The announcements and background information are posted on the NIH ARRA website.
The Senate was unable to pass the FY’09 Omnibus bill last night and now plans to approve a short-term continuing resolution (CR) sometime today. The current CR expires midnight tonight (March 6). The new CR is expected to run through midnight Tuesday, by which time Democratic leaders hope to clear the nine-bill, $410 billion spending package. Republican leaders say they are trying to whittle down their amendments to 10 or 12, and Reid said votes on amendments are expected to resume Monday evening. A series of Republican amendments this week to cut the bill’s spending and eliminate or reduce earmarks were all rejected, and Republicans are now focusing on policy amendments intended to force Democrats to take politically difficult votes.
Meanwhile, House Leadership on Thursday reiterated that the House would not accept any amendments from the Senate. No amendments have yet been approved in the Senate, and Senate Democrats have been vigorously opposing all amendments. House Leadership also vowed to work with President Obama to examine and improve the congressional earmarking process.
On March 3rd, the House and Senate judiciary committees introduced bipartisan patent reform legislation. The legislation has been considered by the previous two Congresses with little result to date. The Patent Reform Act of 2009 was introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and by Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Lamar Smith (R-TX).
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the measure on March 10; no House Judiciary Committee hearing has been scheduled to date by Chairman Conyers.
Some initial observations from the Association of American Universities include:
- The damages language appears to be placeholder language. It is the language from S. 1145, the bill approved last session by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had little prospect of broad acceptance.
- Inequitable conduct language has been omitted, although Senator Hatch is expected to seek to reinstate language modifying current inequitable conduct provisions.
- The new bill eliminates the requirement that all applications be published 18 months after their effective filing date, a provision recommended by the National Academies and supported by the higher education associations.
- On the issue of post-grant “second window,” the bill adopts the treatment contained in H.R. 1908, the patent reform bill approved by the House last session. Instead of a post-grant second window, the new bill includes the improved inter partes re-examination procedure of H.R. 1908, which was endorsed by the higher education associations.
- The applicant quality submissions provision, which required mandatory submission by patent applicants of prior art and other material relevant to patentability, has been omitted. This provision was opposed by virtually all sectors of the patent community.
Introducing the NIH Challenge Grant RFA OD-09-003
NIH has received new funds for Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 (Recovery Act). The NIH has designated at least $200 million in FYs 2009 – 2010 for a new initiative called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research.
This new program will support research on topic areas that address specific scientific and health research challenges in biomedical and behavioral research that would benefit from significant 2-year jumpstart funds.
The NIH has identified a range of Challenge Areas that focus on specific knowledge gaps, scientific opportunities, new technologies, data generation, or research methods that would benefit from an influx of funds to quickly advance the area in significant ways. Each NIH Institute, Center, and Office has selected specific Challenge Topics within the broad Challenge Areas related to its mission. The research in these Challenge Areas should have a high impact in biomedical or behavioral science and/or public health.
NIH anticipates funding 200 or more grants, each of up to $1 million in total costs, pending the number and quality of applications and availability of funds. In addition, Recovery Act funds allocated to NIH specifically for comparative effectiveness research (CER) may be available to support additional grants. Projects receiving these funds will need to meet this definition of CER: “a rigorous evaluation of the impact of different options that are available for treating a given medical condition for a particular set of patients. Such a study may compare similar treatments, such as competing drugs, or it may analyze very different approaches, such as surgery and drug therapy.” Such research may include the development and use of clinical registries, clinical data networks, and other forms of electronic health data that can be used to generate or obtain outcomes data as they apply to CER.
Cantwell Welcomes Governor Gary Locke’s Appointment as Secretary of Commerce
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Chair of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, and a Washingtonian, I am excited that former Governor Gary Locke has been nominated for Secretary of Commerce. As the country begins to tackle the tough challenges ahead of us, Governor Locke will bring years of experience and commitment to get our economy back on track and increase U.S. competitiveness. As Secretary of Commerce, Governor Locke will be responsible for promoting economic growth, technological competitiveness, and sustainable development. Governor Locke’s familiarity with Washington and the nation’s dependence on international trade makes him a perfect pick for Secretary of Commerce. In addition, his experience with fish and ocean issues will provide him with a basis for the many difficult issues that will face him in this arena. For these reasons I am confident Governor Locke will be a great help assisting President Obama to get the economy back on its feet.
A leading Congressional Republican is asking Education Secretary Arne Duncan for significantly more information about how the department plans to spend $100 billion in new funds from the economic stimulus package and to monitor how the money is used. Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon wrote to Duncan last week to ask how the department will oversee the flow of funds to states and the effectiveness with which states spend the money.
Letter to Education Secretary from Congressman McKeon