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Delaware Section Government Affairs Committee Meets with Senator Tom Carper
John Gavenonis, Delaware Section Councilor
Members of the Delaware Section Government Affairs Committee meet with Senator Tom Carper in Wilmington on February 22, 2011. Participants are (from left to right) Al Denio, Kate Opper, Senator Tom Carper, Martha Hollomon, and John Gavenonis.
On Tuesday, February 22, as part of the ACS Contact Congress initiative, Al Denio, John Gavenonis, Martha Hollomon and Kate Opper of the Delaware Section Government Affairs Committee (GAC) met with United States Senator Tom Carper in his Wilmington office. The meeting was also attended by Bonnie Wu (New Castle County Director) and Laura Haynes (Legislative Assistant, via phone). The group gathered to discuss federal funding for basic research, STEM education, patent reform, and climate change, which are all priority areas for ACS policy advocacy. Position statements addressing these topics and others can be found at the ACS website (http://tinyurl.com/acspolicystatements) or by contacting John Gavenonis at email@example.com.
The ACS members thanked Senator Carper for his support of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which was passed by the Senate on December 17 and was signed into law by President Obama on January 4. While the funding authorized in the final legislation was not quite at the levels desired by ACS and other scientific organizations, the legislation still provides a significant increase in funding for basic research at NSF, DOE Office of Science, NIST, and other agencies. More information about the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act can be found at http://delacs.sites.acs.org/apps/forums/topics/show/4012091-president-obama-signs-america-competes-reauthorization-act-of-2010.
One of the primary purposes for the meeting was to discuss the importance of maintaining funding for basic research in the FY2011 CR (continuing resolution) and FY2012 budget. Senator Carper indicated that Congress would likely pass a one month CR that maintains present spending levels in advance of the current CR’s expiration on March 4. [Since the meeting with Senator Carper, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law a two week CR that will expire on March 18.] President Obama is recommending a plan that will reduce the deficit by $1 trillion over 10 years. This is somewhat short of the $4 trillion reduction outlined in the Bowles-Simpson report from The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/TheMomentofTruth12_1_2010.pdf). The ACS members encouraged Senator Carper to maintain funding for basic R&D in these deficit reduction proposals.
The ACS members asked Senator Carper to consider supporting the Patent Reform Act of 2011 (S.23), which was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with 15-0 vote on February 3. [On March 8, the Senate passed S.23 with a 95-5 vote. Senator Carper voted in favor of this bill.] ACS supports a number of provisions for patent reform, including changing the US from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system and permitting the PTO to retain all the fees it collects. Following the discussion, the ACS members will schedule a conference call with Senator Carper’s legislative assistant responsible for patent reform to discuss the specific ACS recommendations in greater detail.
Another bill discussed during the meeting is the Innovate America Act (S.239), which provides tax benefits for basic R&D and STEM education. Senator Carper will be reviewing this legislation as a member of the Senate Finance Committee.
Senator Carper indicated that significant climate change legislation is unlikely to pass in the 112th Congress. Any bill would likely involve a cap and trade system like that used for SO2 emissions. Other aspects of possible climate change legislation include funding to retrofit diesel engines for vehicles and requirements for utilities to generate a certain amount of energy from renewable sources. In addition, EPA is taking steps to regulate and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) as part of the Clean Air Act.
The Delaware Section Government Affairs Committee thanks Senator Carper and his staff for taking the time to review policy items of interest to ACS.