Status of Nanotech Bills in the Lame Duck Session

Congress returned to DC on Monday 11/15/2010 to begin a "lame duck" session . Congress, in particular the Senate, will find their agendas crowed with debate on several bills that need to be voted on before adjourning sine die sometime in December. Therefore, it seemed a good time to review the status of the bills that would affect the nanotech field.

H.R. 554, the "National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2009" was introduced by Rep. Bart Gordon on 01/15/2009 and was passed without amendment by the House on 02/11/2009. After being received in the Senate, H.R. 554 was assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Technology. It hasnot been reported out for debate by the full Senate.

H.R. 554, among various provisions, would have amended the reporting requirements of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, directed the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office to create a publicly accessible database, created the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel as a distinct entity with a subpanel that would consider the social, ethical, legal, environmental and workplace impact of nanotechnolgy, required the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to designate an associate director of that office as the Coordinator for Societal Dimensions of Nanotechnology with various duties, and would have defined nanotechnology and nanoscale as

   NANOTECHNOLOGY- The term `nanotechnology' means the science and technology that will enable one to understand, measure, manipulate, and manufacture at the nanoscale, aimed at creating materials, devices, and systems with fundamentally new properties or functions.'; and

 

        (B) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

 

      `(7) NANOSCALE- The term `nanoscale' means one or more dimensions of between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers.'.

     

H.R. 820, the "Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities Act", was introduced by Rep. Michael Honda on 02/03/2009 and was referred to the House Committee on Science and Technology. Parts of the bill were also referred to the House Committees on Energy & Commerce, Ways and Means, and Homeland Security. H.R. 820 has not been reported out by any of these committees.

H.R. 820 would have had several significant impacts:

1) The Secretary of Commerce would have been directed to establish a "Nanomanufacturing Investment Program", using $100 million in private sector funds

2) Amended the Internal Revenue Code to allow tax credits for purchases of qualified nanotech developer stock and nanotech education and training programs

and 3) would have included commercial nanotech training providers as eligible educational institutions.

H.R. 2769 , the "Commercializing Small Business Research and Development Act", introduced by Rep, Bobby Bright on 06/09/2009, was referred to the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on Science and Technology. It was further referred to the Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology, which held a mark-up session on 06/11/2009. The Subcommittee forwarded the bill on to the full Committee. No further action has occured. H.R. 2769 would have included nanotechnology related topics within federal small business programs.

H.R. 4502 , the "Nanotechnology Education Act", introduced by Rep. David Wu on 01/26/2010, would require the Director of the National Science Foundation to establish a program to award grants to eligible secondary schools and colleges and informal educational centers

i) to acquire qualified nanotechnology equipment and software designed for teaching students about nanotechnology in the classroom;

 

          (ii) to develop and provide educational services, including carrying out faculty development, to prepare students or faculty seeking a degree or certificate that is approved by the State, or a regional accrediting body recognized by the Secretary of Education; and

 

          (iii) to provide teacher education and certification to individuals who seek to acquire or enhance technology skills in order to use nanotechnology in the classroom or instructional process.

         

H.R. 4502 was referred to the House Committee on Science and Technology and further referred to the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. It has not been reported out of committee.

H.R. 5116, the "America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010", was introduced by Rep. Bart Gordon on 04/22/2010, was perhaps the most important bill introduced in the 111th Congress (at least to the nanotech community) and produced unexpectedly contentious House debate, discussed on this site earlier this year. Title I, "The National Nanotechnology Initiatives Amendment Act of 2010", is a duplicate of HR 554, discussed above. H.R. 5116 was passed by the House on 05/28/2010. Received in the Senate, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The Senate version of the America COMPETES Act, S. 3605, was introduced by Senator Jay Rockefeller on 07/15/2010 and was assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which reported it favourably with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. The bill has not come up for debate by the full Senate. S. 3605 differs from H.R. 5116 by not having the "National Nanotechnology Initiatives Amendment Act" as part of its language. Should the bill come up for debate, it is possible that the Senate may add that language as a further amendment.

H.R. 5786, the "Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010", was introduced by Rep. Janice Schakowsky on 07/20/2010 and was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Education and Labor. H.R. 5786 would affect nanotech by requiring

    `(e) Labeling of Nanomaterials in Cosmetics- The Secretary may require that--

 

      `(1) minerals and other particulate ingredients be labeled as `nano-scale' on a cosmetic ingredient label or list if not less than 1 dimension is 100 nanometers or smaller for not less than 1 percent of the ingredient particles in the cosmetic; and

 

      `(2) other ingredients in a cosmetic be designated with scale-specific information on a cosmetic ingredient label or list if such ingredients possess scale-specific hazard properties.

     

H.R. 5786 remains in committee.

S. 596, the "Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Actr of 2009", was introduced by Senator Ron Wyden on 03/ 16/2009 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where it remains. S. 596 would have directed the National Institutes of Standards and Technology to award cash prizes and/or public recognition to eligible persons for achievement in applying nanotechnology in four areas:

1) Improvement of the environment

2) Alternative Energy Sources

3) Improvement of Human Health

4) Development of Consumer Products

S. 1482, the "National Nanotechnology Initiatives Amendments Act of 2009", was introduced by Senator John Kerry on 07/21/2009 and subsequently referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. S. 1482 would have directed the National Nanotechnology Program to involve the nanoindustry community to promote more rapid commercialization of nanotech reseach  and would have required the development of a

1) DATABASE-

 

        `(A) IN GENERAL- The Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office shall develop and maintain a searchable keyword database of all projects funded by the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council.

 

        `(B) DATABASE CONTENTS- The database required by subparagraph (A) shall include the following, with respect to each project in the database:

 

          `(i) A description of the project.

 

          `(ii) The source of funding of the project, set forth by agency.

 

          `(iii) The funding history of the project.

         

Many of the provisions of S. 1482 are similiar to provisions in bills discussed above.

S. 2942, the "Nanotechnology Safety Act of 2010", introduced by Senator Mark Pryor on 01/21/2010 and referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, would have required the Secretary of HHS to establish within the FDA a program to investigate the possible toxicity of nanoscale materials and such material's affect on and interaction with biological systems. The bill remains in committee.

S. 3117, the "Promote Nanotechnology in Schools Act", introduced by Senator Ron Wyden on 03/15/2010 and referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, is essentially the Senate companion bill to H.R. 4502 discussed above. It too remains in committee.

Other House and Senate bills which focused on other subjests, have included sections relating to nanotechnology.

H.R. 2647, the "National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010", introduced by Rep. Ike Skelton on 06/22/2010, was passed in the House and Senate and signed into law as P.L. 111-84; section 242 modified the reporting requirements for nanotech defense related research and development.

H.R. 2965 and S. 1233, "The SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2009", introduced by Rep. Jason Altmire on 06/19/2009 and Senator Mary Landrieu on 06/10/2009 respectively, would have reauthorized the Small Business Inovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. H.R. 2965 was passed by the House with amendments on 07/08/2009 and forwarded on to the Senate. The Senate further amended H.R. 2965 by substituting the language of S. 1233 as amended and passed in the Senate for the language of H.R. 2965, a procedure known as an amendment in the nature of a substitute. H.R. 2965 was returned to the Senate calendar for further action. Section 206 of the bill reads as follows:

SEC. 206. NANOTECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE.

 

    (a) In General- Section 9 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 638), as amended by this Act, is amended by adding at the end the following:

 

    `(ff) Nanotechnology Initiative- Each Federal agency participating in the SBIR or STTR program shall encourage the submission of applications for support of nanotechnology related projects to such program.'.

 

    (b) Sunset- Effective October 1, 2014, subsection (ff) of the Small Business Act, as added by subsection (a) of this section, is repealed.

Two other bills that would potentially impact nanotechnology, H.R. 5820, the "Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010", introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush on 07/22/2010 and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and S. 3209, the "Safe Chemicals Act of 2010" introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg and referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works", remain in committee. Both bills would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act.

NNI at 10

In an article in the September issue of Nature ("Nanotechnology: Small wonders"), Corie Lok reviews the beginnings and accomplishments of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) over the last ten years.

The article attributes the creation of the NNI to four factors:

- A booming US economy, particularly in the high tech sector

- Support from the Clinton administration as it entered its last year in office

- Developments within the then emerging science of nanotechnology that caught the public's attention

- Visionary scientists and engineers who could clearly and in terms everyone could understand communicate what this new field of science was about and how it would benefit everyone. The late Dr. Richard Smalley and Mihail Roco are noted by Ms. Lok for their work in getting NNI started.

NNI's success in creating research centers and legitimizing nanotech in the eyes of the general public, leading  to a flow of venture capital to start-up companies that planned to commercialize the results of nanotech research, is offset by what Lok and others consider its biggest flaw, a lack of focus on the possible adverse effects of nanomaterials on the environment and human health. NNI is now beginning to fund research in these areas.

As the article notes, NNI deserves a great deal of the credit for nurturing nanotechnology over the past decade. But as nanotech has begun to mature, expectations of returns on the investments of both public and private capital in the form of practical and commercial applications and products have risen. In many ways, nanotech and nanoindustries are still at a beginning stage and applications of nanotech in such fields as medicine are still being developed and explored.

NNI faces an uncertain future, with bills that would reauthorize and continue funding for NNI, such as HR 554, the "National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act", passed in the House in February 2009  and HR 5116, the "America COMPETES Reauthorization Act", passed in the House in June 2010 awaiting action in the Senate. S. 1482, the Senate version of the "National Nanotechnology Initiatives Amendment Act" - despite the same title, they are not companion bills - remains stuck in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.  As Congress returns from the August recess, these bills may be brought up for debate before Congress adjourns so members may run for re-election.  It is also possible that the bills may be brought up for debate in a "lame-duck" session following the elections.

Tech Bills Stalling in Senate

The Capital Hill newspaper POLITICO carries an article today discussing how technology related bills awaiting votes in the Senate, including the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, are stalled due to the Senate's focusing on the financial reform bill, the upcoming confirmation vote on Elena Kagan to be the next Associate Justice on the US Supreme Court, the upcoming July 4 and August recesses, and the elections in November. The fear among researchers is that federal funding for various projects, including those in the nanotech field, may dry up. The potential for the November elections to energize work on these bills is also briefly discussed. What is not discussed in the article is the possibility of the tech bills to be voted on in a potential "Lame Duck" session of Congress, following the elections.

As always, we will continue to monitor the progress - or lack thereof - of nanotech related bills in Congress.

Nanotech Legislation in the 111th Congress: Part II The Senate

Yesterday, in Part I, we examined the status and provisions of bills in the House affecting nanotechnology, nanoindustries, or nanobusiness. Today in Part II, we turn to the Senate.

S. 596, the "Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Act of 2009", was introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (Dem-OR) on 03/16/2009. The bill directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish a program to award prizes for achievement in one or more applications of nanotechnology, (environmental, development of alternative energy sources and fuels, health, and development of consumer products). A board would be established to administer the prizes.

The bill was refered to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; to date, no hearings have been held and none are scheduled in the near future. The bill remains in committee.

S. 1233, the "SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2009", was introduced by Senator Mary Landrieu (Dem - LA) on 06/10/2009 and was refered to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which reported it out of committee with an amendment in the nature of a substitute on 07/02/2009. For a further discussion of S. 1233, please see the discussion of HR 2965 in Part I.

S. 1482, the "National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2009", was introduced by Senator John Kerry (Dem - MA) on 07/21/2009 and was refered to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. No hearings have been held and none are scheduled. S. 1482 would reauthorize and amend the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act.  Significant amendments to the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act include:

Sponsorship by the National Nanotechnology Program (NNP) of Nanotechnology Education and workforce development programs

Support by the NNP of the development of standardized reference materials, instruments, and computational tools

Participation in national and international organizations developing commercialization and regulatory guidelines and standards

Coordination of research to determine what health, safety and environmental risks nanoparticles and nanomaterials may pose

The Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office would be charged with developing and maintaining a publicly accessible and keyword seachable database of projects funded by the Nanoscale  Science, Engineering and Technology subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council. This is somewhat similar to the database proposed in HR 554 which was discussed in Part I.

Establish a sub panel on societal, ethical, legal, environmental and workforce concerns.

As with HR 820, an associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy would be designated as the Coordinator for Societal Dimensions of Nanotechnology. The Coordinator's duties would include ensuring that a research plan is developed, updated annually, implemented and responsive to the recommendations of the sub panel mentioned above. The Coordinator, within sixty days of S. 1482's enactment date, would be required to convene a panel to create a research plan for the environmental, health and safety program. This plan would include a description of how the NNP would insure the development of the standards and standardized reference materials also refered to above.

The Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, no later than six months following enactment, would convene national discussions to encourage both stakeholders and non-stakeholders to express their concerns and priorities regarding nanoproducts, research and development and regulatory policy affecting nanotechnology. The Director would be required to submit a report summarizing these discussions to the Congressional committees that have oversight responsibilities in this area, namely the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Science and Technology.

SA (Senate Amendment) 1472 was part of a bloc of amendments offered by Senator Carl Levin (Dem-MI) to amend S. 1390, "The National Defense Authorization Act of 2010", and amended the reporting requirements for the Defense Nanotechnology Research and Development Program. The complete text of the amendment is below:

AMENDMENT NO. 1472

(Purpose: To modify the reporting requirement for the defense nanotechnology research and development program)

    At the end of subtitle D of title II, add the following:

   SEC. 252. MODIFICATION OF REPORTING REQUIREMENT FOR DEFENSE NANOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM.

    Section 246 of the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-314; 10 U.S.C. 2358 note) is amended by striking subsection (e) and inserting the following new subsection (e):

    ``(e) Reports.--The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics shall submit to the National Science and Technology Council information on the program that covers the information described in paragraphs (1) through (5) of section 2(d) of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (15 U.S.C. 7501(d)) to be included in the annual report submitted by the Council under that section.''

As with the majority of the House bills, the Senate bills remain in committee. Considering the focus of Congress on health care reform, financial regulatory reform, and various appropriations bills that need to be passed before the end of the 1st Session, when and if these bills are reported out and voted on is unknown. We'll continue to track these bills and others affecting nanotechnology that may be introduced in the future. At the end of the 1st Session of the 111th Congress, two more articles updating these will be posted to this site.

 

S. 596 ``Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Act of 2009''

Senators Wyden and Snowe introduced S. 596 the Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Act of 2009 on Monday and it has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. According to Senator Wyden's introductory remarks, the bill would "create an X-Prize competition in nanotechnology".  Senator Wyden's remarks and the text of the S. 596 are below.

By Mr. WYDEN (for himself and Ms. SNOWE): http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?r111:2:./temp/~r111Y2z6eW:e0:

S. 596. A bill to require the Secretary of Commerce to establish an award program to honor achievements in nanotechnology, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I am pleased to join today with my colleague from Maine, Senator SNOWE, to introduce the Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Act of 2009.

As Co-Chair of the Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus, and former Chair of the Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Innovation, I have worked long and hard to advance U.S. competitiveness in nanotechnology. Nanotech is a rapidly developing field that offers a wide range of benefits to the country. It can create jobs, expand the economy, and strengthen America's position as a global leader in technological innovation. At this time, when older industries are faltering and the economy is struggling, Congress must act to open new doors, help industry to move into new fields, and work to unlock new manufacturing potential.

Nanotechnology is redefining the global economy and delivering revolutionary change through an amazing array of technological innovations. There is virtually no industry that will not be improved by the advances that are possible with nanotechnology. But to unlock the full benefits of nanotechnology's capabilities, the Federal Government must do more to partner with our nation's innovative entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists. To that end, I am proposing, along with Senator SNOWE, legislation that will create an X-Prize competition in nanotechnology.

Many people have heard of the X-Prize, a recent and high-profile example of a prize competition like the one Sen. SNOWE and I are proposing today. The X-Prize was established in 1996 and set up a $10 million prize fund for the first team who could make civilian space flight a reality. The award was successfully claimed just eight years later. But that was not the only achievement the X-Prize accomplished. During that span of time, the $10 million prize stimulated over $100 million in research and development by the competitors.

Successful prize competitions are not limited to the X-Prize. We have seen the value of these kinds of competitions before. One of the most famous was the Orteig prize, which was to be awarded to the first person to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. Claimed, of course, by Charles Lindbergh in 1927, the Orteig prize stimulated private investment 16 times greater than the amount of the prize. Imagine what kind of explosion in investment and innovation we could achieve in nanotechnology with the competition we're proposing today.

By establishing this nanotechnology prize competition, the Federal Government will promote public-private cooperation to spur investment in key areas and help solve critical problems. The very first prize competition was, in fact, a Government sponsored competition that produced a revolutionary technological breakthrough. In 1714, the British Parliament established a prize for determining a ship's longitude at sea. At the time, the inability to accurately determine longitude was causing many ships to become lost. Solving this critical problem by creating a competition to find the answer paved the way to British naval superiority.

Today, other Government sponsored prize competitions are driving technological breakthroughs and successes. For example, the DARPA Grand Challenge and Urban Challenge have stimulated tremendous advances in remotely-controlled vehicle technology.

The Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Act is a vital tool to help ensure that public and private resources will be utilized in a coordinated way and will be devoted to solving the complex and pressing problems that America faces today. This bill will also spur technological investment and create jobs here at home. Through this prize competition, the government will be able to leverage its resources and focus the intellectual and economic capacity of our nation's best and brightest entrepreneurs on finding the big answers we need in the smallest of technologies--nanotechnology.

The Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Act creates four priority areas for the establishment of prize competitions: green nanotechnology, alternative energy applications, improvements in human health, and the commercialization of consumer products. In each of these areas, nanotechnology holds the promise of tremendous breakthroughs if the necessary resources are devoted. This competition will make sure we get started as soon as possible on finding those breakthroughs. We all know that the

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competitive spirit is one of the strengths of our country. This bill will ignite that spirit in nanotech.

Again, I thank my colleague from Maine for her help and cooperation in introducing this bill. I also want to thank the Woodrow Wilson Center and the X-PRIZE Foundation for their work in helping to develop this bill. I look forward to working with the Commerce Committee, other members of the Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus, the Obama Administration, and the entire nanotech community to reauthorize the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act in the 111th Congress.

I urge all my colleagues to support innovation and promote entrepreneurial competition by cosponsoring this legislation.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be placed in the Record, as follows:

S. 596

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Act of 2009''.

SEC. 2. NANOTECHNOLOGY AWARD PROGRAM.

(a) Program Established.--The Secretary of Commerce shall, acting through the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, establish a program to award prizes to eligible persons described in subsection (b) for achievement in 1 or more of the following applications of nanotechnology:

(1) Improvement of the environment, consistent with the Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry of the Environmental Protection Agency.

(2) Development of alternative energy that has the potential to lessen the dependence of the United States on fossil fuels.

(3) Improvement of human health, consistent with regulations promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services.

(4) Development of consumer products.

(b) Eligible Person.--An eligible person described in this subsection is--

(1) an individual who is--

(A) a citizen or legal resident of the United States; or

(B) a member of a group that includes citizens or legal residents of the United States; or

(2) an entity that is incorporated and maintains its primary place of business in the United States.

(c) Establishment of Board.--

(1) IN GENERAL.--The Secretary of Commerce shall establish a board to administer the program established under subsection (a).

(2) MEMBERSHIP.--The board shall be composed of not less than 15 and not more than 21 members appointed by the President, of whom--

(A) not less than 1 shall--

(i) be a representative of the interests of academic, business, and nonprofit organizations; and

(ii) have expertise in--

(I) the field of nanotechnology; or

(II) administering award competitions; and

(B) not less than 1 shall be from each of--

(i) the Department of Energy;

(ii) the Environmental Protection Agency;

(iii) the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services;

(iv) the National Institutes of Health of the Department of Health and Human Services;

(v) the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the Department of Health and Human Services;

(vi) the National Institute of Standards and Technology of the Department of Commerce; and

(vii) the National Science Foundation.

(d) Awards.--Subject to the availability of appropriations, the board established under subsection (c) may make awards under the program established under subsection (a) as follows:

(1) FINANCIAL PRIZE.--The board may hold a financial award competition and award a financial award in an amount determined before the commencement of the competition to the first competitor to meet such criteria as the board shall establish.

(2) RECOGNITION PRIZE.--

(A) IN GENERAL.--The board may recognize an eligible person for superlative achievement in 1 or more nanotechnology applications described in subsection (a).

(B) NO FINANCIAL REMUNERATION.--An award under this paragraph shall not include any financial remuneration.

(C) NATIONAL TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION MEDAL RECOMMENDATIONS.--For each eligible person recognized under this paragraph, the board shall recommend to the Secretary of Commerce that the Secretary recommend to the President under section 16(b) of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3711) that the President award the National Technology and Innovation Medal established under section 16(a) of such Act to such eligible person.

(e) Administration.--

(1) CONTRACTING.--The board established under subsection (c) may contract with a private organization to administer a financial award competition described in subsection (d)(1).

(2) SOLICITATION OF FUNDS.--A member of the board or any administering organization with which the board has a contract under paragraph (1) may solicit gifts from private and public entities to be used for a financial award under subsection (d)(1).

(3) LIMITATION ON PARTICIPATION OF DONORS.--The board may allow a donor who is a private person described in paragraph (2) to participate in the determination of criteria for an award under subsection (d), but such donor may not solely determine the criteria for such award.

(4) NO ADVANTAGE FOR DONATION.--A donor who is a private person described in paragraph (2) shall not be entitled to any special consideration or advantage with respect to participation in a financial award competition under subsection (d)(1).

(f) Intellectual Property.--The Federal Government may not acquire an intellectual property right in any product or idea by virtue of the submission of such product or idea in any competition under subsection (d)(1).

(g) Liability.--The board established under subsection (c) may require a competitor in a financial award competition under subsection (d)(1) to waive liability against the Federal Government for injuries and damages that result from participation in such competition.

(h) Annual Report.--Each year, the board established under subsection (c) shall submit to Congress a report on the program established under subsection (a).

(i) Authorization of Appropriations.--

(1) IN GENERAL.--There are authorized to be appropriated sums for the program established under subsection (a) as follows:

(A) For administration of prize competitions under subsection (d), $750,000 for each fiscal year.

(B) For the awarding of a financial prize award under subsection (d)(1), in addition to any amounts received under subsection (e)(2), $2,000,000 for each fiscal year.

(2) AVAILABILITY.--Amounts appropriated pursuant to the authorization of appropriations under paragraph (1) shall remain available until expended.
 

NNI Reauthorization--Here we go again

Earlier today, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed its version of the National Nanotechnology Initiative reauthorization amendments, H.R. 554.  The passage was by "voice vote," meaning there is no record of who may have voted for or against the reauthorization.  This is the next step towards complete reauthorization of the NNI.

According to the House Science and Technology Committee: "H.R. 554 requires that the NNI agencies develop a plan for the environmental and safety research component of the program that includes explicit near-term and long-term goals, specifies the funding required to reach those goals, identifies the role of each participating agency and includes a roadmap for implementation.
... H.R. 554 also includes provisions aimed at capturing the economic benefits of nanotechnology. In 2007, $60 billion in nano-enabled products were sold; and it is predicted that the number will rise to $2.6 trillion by 2014. To encourage commercialization in the U.S.—and the corresponding economic benefit—the bill strengthens public-private partnerships by encouraging the creation of industry liaison groups to foster technology transfer and to help guide the NNI research agenda. The bill also promotes the use of nanotechnology research facilities to assist companies in the development of prototypes."

Recall that we've been down this road once before.  In the 110th House also passed the identical reauthorization language, H.R. 5490, only to have it expire at the end of the Senate's term last year.  Hopefully the Senate takes up its version of the bill more quickly this time, and completes the reauthorization process.  The companion bill has not been introduced in the Senate as yet.

NNI Reauthorization Stalling in Senate

Today's lesson is: never count your chickens before they hatch.  You'll remember a few months back, the House overwhelmingly passed legislation reauthorizing the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and slightly modifying some of the work they do.  At the time, I surmised (to myself) that passage through the Senate was likely to be quick.  Perhaps not.

It turns out, the NNI re-authorization bill on the Senate side, S.3274, is getting bogged down and is in danger of not passing before the end of the term later this year.  This bill has been slow to be introduced (as in yesterday), and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee may not get to consider it until next week at the earliest.

Some environmentalists are seeing this as an opportunity to try and get the 10% funding increase for EHS research back into the bill, but attempting such an effort may endanger its passage by the full Senate, which is needed to keep the NNI going.  If the full Senate doesn't pass the bill before the end of the session, the whole process will have to be restarted and approved by both chambers.  Given that a markup hasn't happened yet, passage by the end of this Congress is already looking to be tight on the calendar.  We'll have to keep an eye on the progress to see what happens between now and the end of the year.