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We are looking at a potentially busy spring and summer for federal policies related to the astronomical sciences. In lieu of a deep dive into any one of the interesting policy issues on the horizon, I thought I would just lay out what we're likely to see and approximately when.

On Thursday, 6 February 2014, I walked around Capitol Hill delivering a letter from our President, David Helfand, to the leadership of the Appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over NASA, NSF, and the Department of Energy (DOE)—the three agencies that collectively provide most of the federal support for the astronomical sciences.

In response to a question that passed through my Twitter feed the other day and because they are holding a meeting 3-4 February 2014, I thought I would put together an answer to the question, "What is the AAAC?," which hopefully draws out a little more about the broader "astronomy policy ecosystem."

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama identified basic research and STEM education objectives for his proposed "year of action," two issues close to our hearts here at the AAS Executive Office.

At around 8 pm last night, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers introduced omnibus appropriations for FY 2014, the fiscal year that began this past October. Here we look at how this would affect the astronomical sciences.

This Action Alert requests that AAS members email or call their representatives in Congress to end the budget sequester and support strong investments in basic research. Instructions on whom to contact and how to do so are provided along with sample communications.

Last week's plots may have given the impression that the NASA SMD division budgets, and changes therein, were all on the same scale; they're not. Here's a short addendum with a more appropriately scaled plot.

To provide greater context to our discussion about the NASA Science Mission Directorate budget, which we began last post, here are two plots of total SMD funding over time.

Last post, we took our first look at the potential budget for the coming fiscal year, FY 2014, which began 28 days ago. This time, we'll dive a little deeper into the budgetary outlook for NASA in FY 2014, as the two chambers of Congress begin the budget negotiations mandated by their crisis-ending deal.

The last few days have brought welcome news of a potential end to the government shutdown. Whether you believe there can be a long-term, large-scale budget bargain or not, its important to look at where this Congress left off when they last considered funding the government in something like the "normal" way.

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