Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Benjamin Krinsky
Thursday, January 17, 2019

Shutdown Continues; Science Advisor Confirmed

The government shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history, has dragged into its fourth week, with few signs of a break in the impasse. Seven appropriations bills have not been completed: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Financial Services; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Transportation, Housing, Urban Development, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs; and Homeland Security.

On January 9, the President walked out of a meeting with congressional Democrats, who continue to oppose the President’s demand for money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in exchange for reopening the government. The President also rejected a proposal from a few Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), to reopen the government temporarily while continuing negotiations over immigration issues.

Other outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Science, and Nature, have also documented the shutdown’s impact on research. Scientists have postponed or canceled time-sensitive experiments because federal funds have not been released. Several government-sponsored databases are unavailable, and federal scientists employed by the shuttered agencies are furloughed and thus unable to attend scientific meetings and conferences, where crucial new research in their fields is presented.

On a happier note, in the waning days of the 115th Congress, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Kelvin Droegemeier, PhD, to be head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Unfortunately, OSTP is also subject to the government shutdown; it’s unclear when Dr. Droegemeier will be able to take up his post.