Gov Relations

Washington Update Archive

UCAR Washington Update is a service of UCAR Government Relations to keep the atmospheric and Earth system science community informed about federal budget and policy news affecting science. To get the Update delivered to your email inbox, sign up at right.

the coastal skyline of Miami - courtesy
In this briefing, experts from NCAR, academia, and private industry describe how they are working together to leverage new understanding of the oceans to improve long-range forecasts in ways that help protect society and strengthen our economy.
From Earth System Research to Industry: Still from video
This briefing highlights how scientific research enables weather companies to deliver increasingly targeted and innovative forecasts that strengthen the economy and provide the nation with greater resilience to natural disasters.
U.S. Capitol, Senate wing
The House omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2018 includes cuts to many science agencies and activities. On the Senate side, several nominations to relevant science agencies are being considered, and two were recently confirmed.
White House
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies has approved its fiscal 2018 funding bill.
FY18 President's Budget: White House
The appropriations committees are now drafting their FY 2018 spending bills, and they are asking members of Congress to respond to the 2018 budget submission by making programmatic requests as early as May 30. 
FY17 budget becomes law: budget $ pie chart courtesy ccPixs,com
After months of negotiations with Congress, the $1.070 trillion omnibus spending bill was signed by President Trump on May 5. The bill maintains or increases funding for most major scientific research accounts, including those at NSF, NOAA, and NASA.
Understanding wildland fires: screenshot from UCAR Congressional Briefing
This briefing examines how new research can help fire-management efforts to protect lives and property.
US capitol, Washington DC
The Trump administration released its budget blueprint yesterday and, as expected, proposed to increase defense spending in fiscal year 2018 by $54 billion or 10% above the estimate for the current fiscal year. In the blueprint's opening message, President Trump asks Congress "'to reprioritize Federal spending so that it advances the safety and security of the American people." Since the blueprint stays within the current spending caps as set in law, the $54 billion increase is paid for by an equivalent decrease in non-defense spending, including science programs.
South portico of White House
In late February, the Trump administration announced a $54 billion increase in defense spending in its budget request for fiscal year 2018, along with a commensurate $54 billion cut in non-defense discretionary spending. Unauthorized reports about which programs might be targeted by the proposed cuts are raising questions at federal agencies and at institutions that receive grant and contract funding from the federal government.
U.S. presidential inauguration, 2009
The work we do is fundamentally apolitical and centered on the protection of life and property, and our efforts provide vital support to economic development and national security. We will continue our nonpartisan activities, seeking new opportunities to advance the goals of our community.
Capitol building
The act's provisions will strengthen U.S. science and provide a major boost to the nation's economy and national security.
William E. Easterling, incoming head of NSF GEO
Dr. Easterling comes to NSF from Pennsylvania State University, a UCAR member institution.
U.S. Capitol Building, east side
The bill was passed in the Senate but time ran out and the House was not able to take up the bill prior to adjourning.
photo of gavel
House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) has indicated that the Continuing Resolution is written to the FY 2017 budget cap of $1.07 trillion.
Lake Lanier: site of Georgia-Florida water management dispute
An unresolved dispute between Congressional representatives caused a compromise version of the long-awaited Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2016 to miss the deadline for a final vote on the House floor.
"Vote" sign pointing to polling place
UCAR provides a rundown of pertinent results from the November 8 elections and related information relevant to the atmospheric and Earth system science community.
Predicting Water Resource & Hazard Risks - map shows NWS River Forecast Centers
This briefing outlines how U.S. academic and research organizations; federal, state, and local agencies; and private industry are working together to address society's needs for better water prediction tools.
West front of the U.S. Capitol
The quiet August 2016 congressional recess is giving way to a period of fiscal uncertainty and high-spirited spending debates. Here is a look at where spending and other legislation important to the atmospheric and Earth system science community currently stands.
Seal of the U.S. Congress
Congress has been developing legislation that would reauthorize science and engineering research at NSF, research and technology development at the Commerce Department’s National Institute for Standards and Technology, weather research and operations at NOAA, and the space program at NASA.
Space Weather Prediction: Panelists at UCAR Congressional Briefing, June 2016
As society’s dependence on technology increases, so does its vulnerability to space weather. This briefing to congressional staff and agency representatives provides a roadmap for what it will take to move from space science to space weather forecasting.
The Full House Committee marks up the FY14 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill on June 27, 2013.
The House Appropriations Committee met on May 24 to mark up its version of the Fiscal Year 2017 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill for the key science agencies relevant to the atmospheric and Earth system science community. The House Bill contains different emphases from the Senate version.
U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee in session, April 2016
The Senate Appropriations Committee met to mark up its version of the Fiscal Year 2017 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill on April 21. The Bill totals approximately $56.3 billion in discretionary spending.
Panelists taking questions during UCAR Aviation Weather Briefing
Experts from the university community and the private sector addressed successes in minimizing risks and costs, ways to advance safety through weather-focused science, weather safety in action, and the role of unmanned drones.
Photo of the White House (By AgnosticPreachersKid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The White House has released the final budget request of the Obama Administration. We highlight areas of interest to the atmospheric and related Earth system science community.
The "blue marble" Earth from space
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have finished the $1.1 trillion spending bill for Fiscal Year 2016. We provide highlights for the atmospheric and related geosciences community.
Bipartisan budget deal: disretionary spending projection chart
The agreement raises discretionary spending caps, increases federal funding for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, and paves the way for an FY16 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.
UCAR Briefing: State of the Arctic: David Titley, Julienne Stroeve, and Jennifer Kay
Three researchers gave Congressional and agency staff a look at the latest research on environmental change forecasting in the region and considered risks and opportunities in the Arctic environment. [video, slides]
Continuing Resolution passes: photo of wooden gavel
Congress approved and President Obama signed a short-term Continuing Resolution that provides for the maintenance of appropriations at current (Fiscal Year 2015) spending levels, albeit reduced across the board by 0.21 percent.
2016 Update: cover of the Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2015
Negotiations are under way to consider and pass a continuing resolution (CR) before the start of Fiscal Year 2016 on October 1, 2015.
Hurricane researchers Sytske Kimball, Chris Davis, and Shuyi Chen
It was standing room only for Katrina to Sandy and Beyond: Next-Generation Hurricane Prediction, the second in a series of UCAR Congressional Briefings in Washington, D.C.
Archway over Appropriations Committee doorway, Senate wing, U.S. Capitol building
While the House CJS Appropriations Bill passed the House of Representatives on June 4, the Senate Appropriations Committee version is unlikely to be considered by the full Senate.
Tornado damage, Moore, Oklahoma, 2003
The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will meet soon to negotiate and resolve differences within their two weather bills.
America COMPETES: Photo of scientist adjusting sensing instrument
Prior to passage, several small changes were made to the bill. The Administration has stated its intention to veto the bill as passed by the House, in part because it still contains a freeze on geosciences research funding.
UCAR President Tom Bogdan testifying in Washington, DC in 2014
The hearing examined NOAA’s policies and partnerships for integrating myriad data sources into weather predictions, including satellite, aviation, surface, and ocean observing systems. Participants also addressed international satellite agreements and cooperation.
U.S. Drought Monitor map for May 19, 2015
The bill directs NOAA to improve seasonal forecasts covering "periods over two weeks but less than two years." This bill went through the markup process and was passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee on May 20. The next step for this bill will be a vote on the floor of the full Senate.
U.S. Capitol Building
The bill includes funding for the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It will likely be considered by the full House of Representatives in June.
Mammatus clouds at sunset
Passage in the House sets the table for a potential conference between the House and Senate to combine provisions of their respective bills into a bicameral weather bill in this Congress.
America COMPETES mark up: Photo of scientist adjusting sensing instrument
The legislation provides an authorization of appropriations for FY16 and FY17 for NSF, OSTP, NIST, and the DOE Office of Science, DOE ARPA-E, and other research-related offices.
Weather bill: photo of U.S. capitol at night
The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a markup of H.R. 1561, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2015 on March 25. The Committee unanimously passed H.R. 1561 at the conclusion of the markup, with all Republican and Democratic Members voting for the bill, and members are confident of full house passage.
November clouds at sunset over Boulder, CO
The Committee’s “Views and Estimates” letter includes critiques of the investments proposed by the Administration for atmospheric and related science. The same day in February, an ad hoc coalition of more than 60 different research organizations—including UCAR and many of its Member Institutions—released a letter making the case for the value and importance of such investments.
Congressional briefing on El Nino: Map showing ENSO impacts, Dec-Feb
El Niño and La Niña exert a strong influence on weather in the United States and around the world. During the briefing, three experts on the El Niño–Southern Oscillation clarified misperceptions, explained ENSO behavior, and outlined the state of the science aimed at predicting the onset and preparing for the impacts of these significant events.
New science leadership on Capitol Hill: photo of east side steps, U.S. Capitol Bldg
House and Senate leadership has announced the heads of the congressional committees that will oversee the science agencies and write the funding and authorizing legislation for science in the current session.
Craig McLean
After serving as deputy assistant administrator for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, McClean has been selected to head the office.
House passes windstorm impacts bill: downed tree and damage to house, Boulder, Colorado
The bill reauthorizes the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program through FY 2017, encourages interagency coordination on windstorm impact reduction research, and authorizes appropriations at NIST, NOAA, FEMA, and NSF.
NSF issues new grant-writing guidelines: image of Guidelines brochure
The new guidelines call for clear, nontechnical project descriptions for research grants that explicate both the scientific value of the research and its tie to national interest.
Rep. John Culberson, chair of House CJS Subcommittee, 114th Congress
The Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee writes the annual spending bill that sets funding levels for several key agencies that support the atmospheric sciences.
Franklin Orr, DOE Under Secretary for Science and Energy
The Under Secretary will oversee the Office of Science, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and Office of Fossil Energy, among others, as well as 13 of DOE's 17 national labs.
cover of the Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2015
President Obama signed spending legislation on December 16 to fund the Federal government, including the science agencies, through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2015.
Voters mark their choices at voting booths
Expected changes in Congressional leadership, political balance, and positions of key science and appropriations committees could affect how the atmospheric sciences are funded, authorized, and otherwise viewed at the federal level.
U.S. Capitol Building, east side steps and dome
Thirty-seven U.S. geoscientists engaged in over 100 meetings with members of Congress and their staff across Capitol Hill, sharing a message about the value of strong and sustained federal funding for the geosciences.
The short-term continuing resolution prevents a government shutdown, while putting off major funding decisions for FY15 and maintaining FY14 funding levels for discretionary spending, including for the federal science agencies.
Extending subseasonal outlooks: Photo of flood waters surrounding traffic sign, Davenport, Iowa
During a speech to the United Nations, the President made several commitments for new directions and investments in weather and climate prediction at the federal science agencies, including a new focus at NOAA on subseasonal outlooks for extreme weather.
Stephen Volz will be the next Asst Admin of NESDIS
Stephen Volz will be the next Assistant Administrator of NESDIS, the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service.
FY16 budget priorities: Solar panels at sunset
The OMB and Office of Science & Technology Policy have released a memorandum unveiling the Administration’s science and technology priorities for the Fiscal Year 2016 federal budget. New this year: Earth observation data.
First-ever National Plan for Civil Earth Observation: Satellite view of Hurricane Katrina
The Plan is an overarching federal approach to prioritizing and coordinating the nation's federally funded surface, atmospheric, and satellite Earth observation missions.
Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown
Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown has been nominated to be the next Assistant Secretary for Observations and Prediction at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The position serves as NOAA's second-in-command on weather and satellite matters.
National Science Foundation headquarters
Paul Shepson will be the new Director of AGS. Patrick Harr is coming on board as AGS Section Head for Atmosphere.
Cora Marrett
Cora Marrett will leave her position as Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation, effective August 24. Richard Buckius will serve as acting Chief Operations Officer of NSF following Marrett's departure.
Researcher explains instrumentation to student during RICO field project in Barbuda
Members of the scientific community have expressed concern with some of the directives in the bill, including shifting decisions on NSF Directorate budget allocations from Foundation management to Congress.
Capitol Dome
The bill, which includes funding for the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, contains $51.2 billion in total discretionary funding, a reduction of $398 million below the FY 2014 enacted level.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski opens Senate Appropriations hearing on Driving Innovation through Federal Investments
The April 29 hearing on Driving Innovation through Federal Investments drew a lot of attention. Well over 100 institutions, including businesses, federal labs, universities, and scientific associations, provided written testimony.
Portion of FY 2015 budget request graph for NSF Geosciences
The Obama Administration released its FY 2015 budget request on March 4, including plans and proposals for the federal science agencies that fund the atmospheric sciences. We break down the numbers.
Rainbow in western Colorado
Last week the House passed by voice vote HR 2413, the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act, introduced by Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) last summer and approved by the House Science Committee last fall.
Kristin Mooney and Melissa Burt at NSF GEO workshop, UCAR, March 2014
On March 13, the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology favorably reported HR 4186, the FIRST Act (Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology).
Mike Chapman and Wendy Abshire on Capitol Hill, March 2014
Scientists from the private sector, universities, and Federal labs needed roller skates to navigate the hallways of Congress last month during the 14th annual Science, Engineering, and Technology Congressional Visits Day.
NSF building facade
The Senate voted on March 12 to confirm astrophysicist France Córdova as head of the National Science Foundation. She comes to NSF after leading Purdue University as its president.
Gene Takle (Iowa State University)
Several researchers participated in the day, which features nonpartisan visits with Members of Congress and their staffs to discuss the latest climate science information.
Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator
The oceanographer, whose résumé includes astronaut and former NOAA chief scientist, has been confirmed by the Senate as the new Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Omnibus funding passes: Photo of western sky after a storm has passed
The spending bill follows passage in mid-December of a budget agreement that provides the federal agencies with partial relief from sequestration for two years. We break down the numbers and highlight language of interest to the atmospheric and Earth system science community.
White House Climate Action Plan: Image of Community Climate System Model simulation
Released last June, the plan has three prongs: to cut carbon pollution in the U.S., to prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change, and to lead international efforts to combat global climate change and prepare for its impacts.
Forecasters: photo courtesy NWS
The Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard hosted a hearing on December 12 to conduct oversight of the National Weather Service and assess past and ongoing efforts to improve the timeliness, accuracy, and accessibility of weather forecasting and prediction services.
NSF/NCAR C-130 aircraft before takeoff
The National Science Foundation has posted public notice of a third leadership opportunity: Section Head of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Facilities Section, which oversees planning, management, and funding of NCAR and reports to the Division Director of AGS.
Submerged building and street, Midwest flood of 1993
The day after much of Washington was closed due to snow and ice, the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing titled “A Factual Look at the Relationship between Climate and Weather.”
Seal of the U.S. House of Representatives
Update: On December 18, by a vote of 64 to 36, the Senate gave final approval to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and sent the bill to the President for his signature.
Washington Update: 48-hr forecast map of the U.S., NCEP/HPC
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee has approved two bills with bipartisan support: the Committee Manager’s amendment to the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013 and the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2013.
Landsat data: Global forest cover gain and loss since 2000
The agencies are being encouraged to foster government-industry-research projects, and to be prepared for additional rounds of spending cuts in FY 2015.
NSF/NCAR C-130 aircraft at TOPSE Field Project
House and Senate committees have taken steps toward a third reauthorization of the Act. Both the House and Senate have held hearings on reauthorization in the last month, and the majority and minority on the House Science Committee have released alternative draft proposals.
Photo of facade of NSF headquarters
This term-limited position oversees all grant and cooperative agreement proposals and programs in the atmospheric sciences, including management of NCAR.
People costs: chart showing impacts of weather, climate, on lives, livelihoods
To keep the federal government open, Congress will need to agree to appropriate additional discretionary funds by that date.
Antarctic researchers with PistenBully and submersible research vehicles
The Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014 became law on October 17, ending a 16-day partial government shutdown and reopening the federal government, including the science agencies.
U S House of Representatives
The question of whether the new fiscal year starts with a continuing resolution to keep the federal agencies open or the federal government shuts most operations down due to lack of funding is again front and center in Washington.
Washington Update: Aerial view of the White House
The President's FY14 budget request, released in a constrained fiscal environment, includes a mixture of proposed funding increases and decreases for the atmospheric sciences community.
Washington Update: U.S. currency
The passage and signing of a resolution to fund the federal government through the end of FY 2013 has impacts on the research, operations, and education activities supported by NSF and NOAA.
Washington Update: UCAR President Thomas Bogdan
Leaders from the National Science Foundation, UCAR, and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies in support of the FY2014 NOAA, NASA, and NSF budgets.
Hurricane Sandy: street of severely damaged houses at Breezy Point, NY
The presidents of UCAR and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership sent a joint letter to congressional leaders today, highlighting the role of observing systems in forecasting destructive storms.
NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center
The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center, being hailed as the world's most powerful weather and climate prediction machine, brings new capability to the nation to advance a broad range of geoscience research with potential benefits to society.
Lamar Smith
Texas Republican Lamar Smith has been selected to chair the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in the 113th Congress.

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