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House Science Panel Approves Four Research Measures

The House Science and Technology Committee this morning tweaked and unanimously passed a series of research measures that had passed the House in previous versions but had run into jurisdictional obstacles in the Senate.

Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) said the four bills, passed by voice vote, represent “good ideas with broad bipartisan support.”

The changes were made to ensure that the bills fell within his committee’s jurisdiction, an issue that had led some of the measures to be removed from broader bills during the 109th Congress, he said.

Gordon offered a substitute version of a bill he authored, H.R. 363, the Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Research Act. The legislation would establish awards for notable researchers early in their academic careers and assistance to graduate research in “areas of national needs.” The chairman’s mark eliminated language authorizing specific appropriations levels for the National Science Foundation; Gordon said those levels would be addressed in spending bills instead.

The committee also advanced H.R. 1068, to amend the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991. The measure would improve interagency coordination on information technology and require planning for the next generation of advance computer technology.

The bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), noted that the bill had been tweaked to address Senate jurisdictional concerns that had stalled it twice before — concerns she termed “excuses.”

Another bill, H.R. 1126, would reauthorize the Steel and Aluminum Energy Conservation and Technology Competitiveness Act of 1988 to extend authorization of $12 million annually for fiscal years 2008 to 2012 to help the metals industries develop more efficient and environmentally friendly technology. The bill would place an emphasis on technologies that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The committee also cleared H.R. 85, the Energy Technology Transfer Act, which is intended to help transfer federal research on energy efficiency and renewables technology into the public domain. It would amend the 2006 Energy Policy Act to establish a network of Advanced Energy Technology Transfer Centers.

A manager’s amendment clarified language that had generated “some confusion” over the bill’s purpose, including what types of energy research technology was to be transferred.

Gordon said he expects the bill to be sent to the floor soon.

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