The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Office of Congressional and government Affairs
At A Glance
 
 
Public Law
: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018
: 115-141
Session: 115th Congress (Second Session)

 

The following are excerpts, highlighted in red, from the final legislation and/or conference report which contain references to and studies for The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  (Pound signs [##] between passages denote the deletion of unrelated text.)
 
HR1625           Royce (R-Calif.)       03/23/18
Enrolled (finally passed both houses)
To amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to include severe forms of trafficking in persons within the definition of transnational organized crime for purposes of the rewards program of the Department of State, and for other purposes.
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 
 
######
 
DIVISION E—FINANCIAL SERVICES AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018
 
######
 
 
TITLE V
INDEPENDENT AGENCIES
 
 
######
 
 
Consumer Product Safety Commission
 
salaries and expenses
 
For necessary expenses of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, including hire of passenger motor vehicles, services as authorized by 5 U.S.C. 3109, but at rates for individuals not to exceed the per diem rate equivalent to the maximum rate payable under 5 U.S.C. 5376, purchase of nominal awards to recognize non-Federal officials' contributions to Commission activities, and not to exceed $8,000 for official reception and representation expenses, $126,000,000, of which $1,100,000 shall remain available until expended to carry out the program, including administrative costs, required by section 1405 of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (Public Law 110–140; 15 U.S.C. 8004).
 
administrative provisions—consumer product safety commission
 
Sec. 501. During fiscal year 2018, none of the amounts made available by this Act may be used to finalize or implement the Safety Standard for Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the Federal Register on November 19, 2014 (79 Fed. Reg. 68964) until after—

(1) the National Academy of Sciences, in consultation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Defense, completes a study to determine—

(A) the technical validity of the lateral stability and vehicle handling requirements proposed by such standard for purposes of reducing the risk of Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (referred to in this section as “ROV”) rollovers in the off-road environment, including the repeatability and reproducibility of testing for compliance with such requirements;

(B) the number of ROV rollovers that would be prevented if the proposed requirements were adopted;

(C) whether there is a technical basis for the proposal to provide information on a point-of-sale hangtag about a ROV’s rollover resistance on a progressive scale; and

(D) the effect on the utility of ROVs used by the United States military if the proposed requirements were adopted; and

(2) a report containing the results of the study completed under paragraph (1) is delivered to—

(A) the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate;

(B) the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives;

(C) the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and

(D) the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.
 
 
######
 
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
 
EXPLANATORY STATEMENT (By Division)
 
 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
 
DIVISION A - AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018 
 
CONGRESSIONAL DIRECTIVES
 
The explanatory statement is silent on provisions that were in both the House Report (H.Rpt. 115-232) and Senate Report (S.Rpt. 115-131) that remain unchanged by this agreement, except as noted in this explanatory statement.
 
The agreement restates that executive branch wishes cannot substitute for Congress's own statements as to the best evidence of congressional intentions, which are the official reports of the Congress. The agreement further points out that funds in this Act must be used for the purposes for which appropriated, as required by section 1301 of title 31 of the United States Code, which provides: "Appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law."
 
The House and Senate report language that is not changed by the explanatory statement is approved and indicates congressional intentions. The explanatory statement, while repeating some report language for emphasis, does not intend to negate the language referred to above unless expressly provided herein.
 
######
 
 
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS, AND CHILDREN (WIC)
 
The agreement provides $6,175,000,000 for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
 
The agreement fully funds estimated WIC participation in fiscal year 2018. The agreement includes $60,000,000 for breastfeeding support initiatives; $14,000,000 for infrastructure; and an increase of $25,000,000 for the contingency reserve.
 
The work of the National Academies of Science (NAS) to review and make recommendations for updating the WIC food packages to reflect current science and cultural factors is recognized. The agreement notes, however, that while all revised packages now allow some fish, the amounts remain low compared to the recommendations of other authoritative health agencies. The agreement strongly encourages the Department to consider the health and cultural benefits of fish consumption as the NAS recommendations are reviewed and used to inform the Department's next course of action. The agreement also strongly encourages the Department to continue to allow states to submit cultural food package proposals to respond to the cultural preferences of WIC participants in states like Alaska.
 
 
######
 
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
HRpt 115-232 - To accompany H.R. 3268 – [M]aking appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies for fiscal year 2018.
(6/17/17)
 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

######
 
 TITLE VI
 
RELATED AGENCIES AND FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION
 
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
 
FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION
 
SALARIES AND EXPENSES
 
 
######
 
 Genomic Editing.—The Committee understands the potential benefits to society in the genetic modification of living organisms. However, researchers do not yet fully understand all the possible side effects of editing the genes of a human embryo. Editing of the human germ line may involve serious and unquantifiable safety and ethical issues. Federal and non-federal organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine continue to understand the potential risks of genome editing and a broader public discussion of the societal and ethical implications of this technique is still ongoing. In accordance with the current policy at the National Institutes of Health, the Committee includes bill language that places a prohibition on the FDA’s use of funds involving the genetic modification of a human embryo. The Committee continues to support a wide range of innovations in biomedical research, but will do so in a fashion that reflects well-established scientific and ethical principles.
 
######
 
 
New Technologies to Promote Food Safety.—The Committee encourages the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a study on new technologies to promote microbiological food safety and prevent foodborne illnesses. The study should review methods that have been developed but not implemented, are in development, or have been proposed but not well developed. The study also should identify any regulatory, economic, or other barriers to implementing technologies. The review should encompass methods that could be applied on farms and feedlots, in feed- and food-production and processing facilities, restaurants and supermarkets, and elsewhere in the food supply chain. The various methods should be applicable to meat and poultry products, dairy foods, seafood, plant products, processed and packaged foods, and other foods.
  
######
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
SRpt 115-131 - To accompany S. 1603 – [M]aking appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes, reports favorably thereon and recommends that the bill do pass.
(7/20/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 

######
 
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS, AND CHILDREN [WIC]
 
 
######
 
COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS
 
The Committee recommends an appropriation of $6,350,000,000 for the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children [WIC].
 
The Committee recommendation fully funds estimated WIC participation in fiscal year 2018. The Committee recommendation includes $80,000,000 for breastfeeding support initiatives and $14,000,000 for infrastructure.
 
WIC Food Package.—The Committee appreciates the work of the National Academies of Science to review and make recommendations for updating the WIC food packages to reflect current science and cultural factors. The Committee notes, however, that while all revised packages now allow some fish, the amounts remain low compared to the recommendations of authoritative agencies such as the World Health Organization and in some cases, sporadic. The Committee strongly encourages the Department to prioritize the health and cultural benefits of fish consumption as regulations are revised to implement the NAS recommendations and to increase the amount of healthful fish above the amounts recommended by the NAS. The Committee also strongly encourages the Department to allow States to prioritize fish over legumes and peanut butter to respond to the cultural preferences of WIC participants in States like Alaska.
 
WIC Food Package Recommendation.—The Committee supports the important public health role WIC plays in assuring healthy pregnancies and birth outcomes, and growing healthy young children ready to learn when they enter school through quality nutrition education and prescribed foods. The Committee encourages the Secretary to review and implement the recommendations, where appropriate, established in the January 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, Review of WIC Food Packages: Improving Balance and Choice: Final Report. The recommendations are in accordance with the regular review of the Food Packages provided for under the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.
 
 
######
 
 
DIVISION B-COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018
 
Report language included in House Report 115-231 ("the House report") or Senate Report 115-139 ("the Senate report") that is not changed by this explanatory statement or this Act is approved. The explanatory statement, while repeating some language for emphasis, is not intended to negate the language referred to above unless expressly provided herein. In cases where both the House report and the Senate report address a particular issue not specifically addressed in the explanatory statement, the House report and the Senate report should be read as consistent and are to be interpreted accordingly. In cases where the House report or the Senate report directs the submission of a report, such report is to be submitted to both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations ("the Committees").
 
######
 
 
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
 
This Act includes $20,736,140,000 for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
 
SCIENCE
 
This Act includes $6,221,500,000 for Science. The agreement reiterates the importance of the decadal survey process and rejects the cancellation of scientific priorities recommended by the National Academy of Sciences decadal survey process.
 
 
######
 
Planetary Science.-This Act includes $2,227,900,000 for Planetary Science. Of this amount, $595,000,000 is for the Europa mission, including both the Clipper and Lander components. The agreement also provides $66,000,000 for Near Earth Object Observations as directed by the Senate. The agreement provides up to $335,800,000 for Discovery and up to $90,000,000 for New Frontiers. Within amounts currently available in the Planetary program and from funds provided in this Act, no more than $35,000,000 is for the Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) mission to complete a system requirement review and mission design review, and associated follow-up work. Also included is $660,000,000 for Mars with language clarifying House direction to support the Mars Sample return mission and Orbiter, as appropriate. The agreement also provides $23,000,000 for the Mars helicopter technology demonstration activity. The agreement modifies House language regarding an Exoplanet Exploration Decadal Survey to acknowledge that this matter is being explored in a February 2018, National Academy of Sciences call for White Papers: Exoplanet Science Strategy in advance of the upcoming decadal surveys in astronomy, astrophysics, and planetary science.
 
 
######
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
HRpt 115-231 - To accompany H.R. 3267 – [M]aking appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes.
(7/17/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
 
######
 
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
 
 
######
 
SCIENCE
 
######
 
 
Planetary Science.—The recommendation includes $2,120,900,000 for Planetary Science. One of the primary recommendations of the National Academies’ 2012 Decadal Survey for Planetary Science was for NASA to achieve a balanced program through a mix of Discovery, New Frontiers, and flagship missions and an appropriate balance among the many potential targets in the solar system. The Committee urges NASA, in subsequent budget requests, to ensure that it requests sufficient funds across its Discovery and New Frontiers programs to ensure a balanced cadence of missions. Further, the Committee expects NASA to request sufficient funds for Research and Analysis to ensure that data collected by NASA assets can be exploited by scientists and researchers. The recommendation includes $305,600,000 for Planetary Science Research, including $197,900,000 for Planetary Science Research and Analysis. Also included is $60,000,000 for NASA’s efforts to detect and monitor near Earth objects and for its asteroid impact and deflection assessment (AIDA) and double asteroid redirection test (DART) activities. Commensurate with this funding, NASA is urged to conduct research into directed energy as a means of asteroid deflection. Further, the Committee encourages NASA to examine its use of NSF’s ground-based telescopes to fulfill its planetary protection mission to determine if additional funds are required.
 
Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam).—The Committee is supportive of the NEOCam mission, which follows a 2010 National Academy of Sciences report regarding space-based infrared survey telescopes required to discover asteroids that pose a hazard to Earth. NEOCam will also assist NASA in meeting the congressionally mandated directive to detect and characterize hazardous near Earth objects. The Committee understands that NEOCam has been approved for extended Phase A studies that are intended, in part, to review projected overall cost estimates. NASA shall provide a report no later than 120 days after enactment of this Act regarding estimated life cycle costs, including schedule and milestones toward a projected 2020 launch date.
 
######
 
Astrophysics probe missions.—NASA shall seek input from the National Academy of Sciences and the academic and scientific community regarding the need for, and benefits of, establishing a competitive, principle investigator-led astrophysics program to bridge the gap between Explorer and less-frequent Flagship missions. NASA shall provide an interim report on these matters within 180 days of enactment of this Act, with a final report to be submitted no later than one year after enactment of this Act.
 
######
 
SPACE TECHNOLOGY
 
######
 
 
The Committee also directs NASA to accelerate work on Starshade and WFIRST to ensure that WFIRST is Starshade compatible, and that Starshade will launch and be capable of working with WFIRST to identify the nearest Earth-like planet that shows evidence of extant life. The Committee directs NASA to include a section in the interstellar propulsion technology report which details NASA’s plan to make WFIRST Starshade compatible and what size, design and funding requirements are necessary for Starshade and WFIRST to resolve the planet from the star and spectrographically analyze the atmosphere of rocky Earth-like planets in the habitable zones of stable, long-lived stars out to a distance of 10 parsecs. NASA is encouraged to collaborate with the National Academies of Sciences to create a permanent Decadal Survey for Exoplanet Exploration for the next decade and beyond, and NASA is directed to follow the recommendations of this new Exoplanet Exploration Decadal Survey in developing America’s long-term plans for systematic interstellar exploration missions to Earth-like planets harboring life in our galactic neighborhood.
 
######
 
 NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
 
######
 
 
MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION
 
The Committee recommends $77,800,000 for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC).
 
Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).—The recommendation includes $57,800,000, the requested amount, for LSST. LSST, which was ranked as the top large ground-based astronomy project by the National Research Council 2010 Decadal Survey, will produce the deepest, widest-field sky image ever, and issue alerts for moving and transient objects within 60 seconds of discovery. NSF shall provide quarterly briefings to the Committee on the status of LSST, to include updates on resolution of issues identified by the NSF IG.
 
 
######
 
EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES
 
The Committee recommends $880,000,000 for Education and Human Resources (EHR), which is the same as fiscal year 2017 and $119,450,000 above the request.
 
STEM-focused K-12 schools.—The Committee notes that prior National Research Council and National Science Board reports have encouraged education researchers and policymakers to give increased consideration to STEM-focused K-12 schools as an effective means of increasing STEM literacy. With those reports in mind, the Committee encourages NSF to work within its existing programs to promote opportunities for collaboration between universities or non-profit research institutions and STEM-focused schools serving K-12 students.
 
######
 
 
OFFICE OF THE NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
 
The Committee recommends $4,370,000, which is the same as fiscal year 2017 and the same as the request, for the National Science Board.
 
Infrastructure.—The Committee is supportive of recent actions to lower the MREFC threshold but encourages the National Science Board to consider further changes that would bridge the gap between the Major Research Instrumentation program and the MREFC account while also developing processes appropriate for mid-scale infrastructure, cyberinfrastructure, and instrument upgrades to be funded through the MREFC account. The Board shall, in collaboration with the National Academies, examine these requirements and report to the Committee within 180 days after enactment of this Act regarding its recommendations on how to address this matter within the confines of a restricted funding environment.
 
######
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
SRpt 115-139 - To accompany S. 1662 – [M] aking appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes, reports favorably thereon and recommends that the bill do pass.
(7/27/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
 
######
 
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
 
######
 
For Science, the Committee’s recommendation strives to keep NASA’s near-term launches on track to continue progress in exploring our solar system and the universe, understanding the sun, and observing our planet. The Committee expects NASA to continue making progress on the recommendations of the National Academies’ decadal surveys, now and in the future.
 
######
 
SCIENCE
 
######
 
Heliophysics.—The Committee recognizes that a greater understanding of our Sun and the accompanying technologies developed for that purpose will help to mitigate the hazards that solar activity poses to the ground- and space-based platforms that strengthen our national security, economic competitiveness, and scientific prowess. As recommended by the National Research Council Decadal Survey, the Committee directs NASA to implement a 2-year cadence of alternating Small Explorer [SMEX] and Mid-sized Explorer [MIDEX] missions, and enable a regular selection of Missions of Opportunity [MOs] to allow heliophysics researchers to rapidly respond to and participate in missions both inside and outside of NASA. The Committee also supports implementation of the Diversify, Realize, Integrate, Venture, Educate [DRIVE] initiative, a top priority of the National Research Council Decadal Survey, which would increase the competitive Heliophysics research program from 10 percent to 15 percent of the budget request to enable the development of new technologies, and establish competitively-awarded Heliophysics Science Centers. The Committee recognizes the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of Heliophysics, and so seeks to provide researchers with the necessary tools to enable continued scientific progress in this field.
 
######
 
 
DIVISION D-ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018
 
The following statement to the House of Representatives and the Senate is submitted in explanation of the agreed upon Act making appropriations for energy and water development for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes.
 
This explanatory statement, while repeating some report language for emphasis, does not intend to negate the language and allocations set forth in House Report 115-230 and Senate Report 115-132 and that direction shall be complied with unless specifically addressed to the contrary in the accompanying bill or explanatory statement. Additionally, where this explanatory statement states that the "agreement only includes" or "the following is the only" direction, any direction included in the House or Senate report on that matter shall be considered as replaced with the direction provided within this explanatory statement. In cases where the House or the Senate has directed the submission of a report, such report is to be submitted to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress. House or Senate reporting requirements with deadlines prior to or within 15 days of the enactment of this Act shall be submitted no later than 60 days after the enactment of this Act. All other reporting deadlines not changed by this explanatory statement are to be met.
 
######
 
TITLE III-DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
 
The agreement provides $34,520,049,000 for the Department of Energy to fund programs in its primary mission areas of science, energy, environment, and national security. The Department is prohibited from funding fellowship and scholarship programs in fiscal year 2018 unless the programs were explicitly included in the budget justification or funded within this agreement. The Department is expected to spend funds as provided for within this agreement in an expeditious manner, to include the issuance of funding opportunity announcements and awards of funds.
 
Five-Year Plan.-The Department is directed to submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress not later than September 30, 2018 a report on the plan to comply with 42 U.S.C. 7279a.
 
Grid Modernization.-The Department is directed to continue to support ongoing work between the national laboratories, industry, and universities to improve grid reliability and resiliency. The Department is also directed to continue implementation of the Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is directed to conduct an evaluation of the expected medium- and long-term evolution of the grid. This evaluation shall focus on developments that include the emergence of new technologies, planning and operating techniques, grid architecture, and business models.
  
######
 
****************************************************************************************************************************************************************** 
HRpt 115-230 - To accompany H.R. 3266 – [M]aking appropriations for energy and water development for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes.
(7/17/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
 
######
 
 
DEFENSE NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION
 
######
 
Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development (DNN R&D).—The Committee recommends $523,595,000. As in fiscal year 2017, the recommendation includes funds for LEU fuels development for U.S. high performance research reactors within DNN R&D to better align research and development-related activities with the resident expertise for managing a long term development program within the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and to respond to concerns detailed in a National Academies study regarding the complexity of technical issues that must be overcome to convert those reactors over the next 15 years. The amount for LEU fuels development also includes funding to develop LEU fuel for the TREAT reactor.
 
######
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
SRpt 115-132 - To accompany S. 1609 – [M]aking appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes, reports favorably thereon and recommends that the bill do pass.
(7/20/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 
 
######
 
TITLE III
 
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
 
OVERVIEW OF RECOMMENDATION
 
  
######
 
CROSSCUTTING INITIATIVES
 
 
######
 
Grid Modernization.—The Department is directed to continue to support ongoing work between the national laboratories, industry, and universities to improve grid reliability and resiliency. Given that much of the Nation’s grid is privately owned, there are significant challenges to modernizing the grid, which make it difficult to develop, test, and deploy new technologies. To address these challenges, Congress has provided funding for the Grid Modernization Initiative [GMI] over the past 2 fiscal years. The budget request does not address the GMI comprehensively even though in January 2016, the Department announced up to $220,000,000 for the GMI over 3 years, subject to appropriations from Congress. Within the GMI, the Committee supports the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium’s [GMLC] leadership of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary research and development program managed through a consortium of the national laboratories, leveraging national laboratory assets and partnering with non-Federal entities. The Committee is pleased that the Department has recently undertaken peer review processes to evaluate the GMLC’s progress. The Committee supports the strategic goals of the Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan [MYPP], which reflects a 5-year integrated strategy across the Department to guide investment and leverage the expertise of our national laboratories, while working with industry and States. The Committee directs the Department to continue implementation of the MYPP, as in previous years.
 
The Committee recognizes the opportunities and challenges associated with grid modernization, as well as the gaps in our current understanding not addressed by existing studies, and accordingly directs the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct an evaluation of the expected medium- and long-term evolution of the grid. This evaluation shall focus on developments that include the emergence of new technologies, planning and operating techniques, grid architecture, and business models. This study will provide critical insight into the future of the grid, particularly with respect to the distribution network and its interface with the rest of the grid, and will inform decisions regarding strategic investment of Federal funds and other policies, including ensuring proper steps are taken to address cybersecurity.
 
 
######
 
BIOENERGY TECHNOLOGIES
  
######
 
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has recognized that bioenergy with carbon capture sequestration [BECCS] has technical potential to provide a significant portion of the world’s energy supply by the end of the century. If commercialized further, BECCS could be a baseload electricity resource with a net-negative carbon emission profile. The Committee encourages the Bioenergy Technologies Office to continue its collaboration with the Office of Fossil Energy on BECCS research, as well as research to advance net carbon-negative transportation fuels.
 
 
######
  
ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY—ENERGY
 
######
 
The Committee recommends $330,000,000 for the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy [ARPA-E], an increase of $356,367,000 above the budget request. Within available funds, the Committee recommends $29,250,000 for program direction.
 
ARPA-E was established by the America COMPETES Act of 2007 following a recommendation by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in the “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” report. Since receiving its first funding in fiscal year 2009, ARPA-E continues to catalyze and support the development of transformational, high-impact energy technologies to ensure the Nation’s economic and energy security and technological leadership. Project sponsors continue to form strategic partnerships and new companies, as well as secure private sector funding to help move ARPA-E technologies closer to the market.
 
The budget request proposes to terminate ARPA-E and use funds appropriated in fiscal year 2017 for oversight and management. The Committee definitively rejects this short-sighted proposal, and instead increases investment in this transformational program and directs the Department to continue to spend funds provided on research and development and program direction. The Department shall not use any appropriated funds to plan or execute the termination of ARPA-E. In addition, the Committee remains concerned about the timeliness of the current review process, and directs the Department to continue to move forward on approving Funding Opportunity Announcements.
  
######
 
 
DIVISION E - FINANCIAL SERVICES AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018
 
The joint explanatory statement accompanying this division is approved and indicates congressional intent. Unless otherwise noted, the language set forth in House Report 115-234 carries the same weight as language included in this joint explanatory statement and should be complied with unless specifically addressed to the contrary in this joint explanatory statement. While some language is repeated for emphasis, it is not intended to negate the language referred to above unless expressly  provided herein.
 
######
 
 
ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISION - CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION
 
Sec. 501. The agreement prohibits the use of Federal funds in fiscal year 2018 for the adoption or implementation of the proposed rule on Recreational Off-highway Vehicles (ROVs) until a study by the National Academy of Sciences is completed.
 
 
######
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
HRpt 115-234 - To accompany H.R. 3280 – [M]aking appropriations for financial services and general government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018.
(7/17/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
 
######
 
 
ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS-CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION
 
Section 501. The Committee continues language prohibiting funds to finalize, implement, or enforce the proposed rule on recreational off-highway vehicles until a study is completed by the National Academy of Sciences.
 
######
 
TITLE V—INDEPENDENT AGENCIES
 
######
 
The bill includes the following administrative provisions under the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
 
Section 501. Language is included prohibiting funds to finalize, implement, or enforce the proposed rule on recreational off-highway vehicles until a study is completed by the National Academy of Sciences.
 
######
 
DIVISION F - DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018
 
The following is an explanation of Division F, which makes appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for fiscal year 2018. Funding provided in this Act not only sustains existing programs that protect the nation from all manner of threats, it ensures DHS's ability to improve preparedness at the federal, state, and local levels, to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks, and to hire, train, and equip DHS frontline forces protecting the
homeland.
 
The language set forth in House Report 115-239 carries the same weight as language included in this joint explanatory statement and should be complied with unless specifically addressed to the contrary in the bill or in this joint explanatory statement. While the statement repeats some language for emphasis, it does not negate any language in the House report unless expressly stated. When this explanatory statement refers to the Committees or the Committees on Appropriations, these references are to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.
 
######
 
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
HRpt 115-239 - To accompany H.R. 3355 – [M]aking appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018.
(7/21/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
 
######
 
TITLE V—GENERAL PROVISIONS
 
######
 
 
COAST GUARD ICEBREAKERS
 
An amendment offered during Committee consideration of the bill would have redirected $2,300,000,000 from border infrastructure and ICE immigration enforcement to the Coast Guard’s polar icebreaker acquisition program. The proposed new border infrastructure has not been justified and the bill’s recommended increases for ICE hiring and detention beds do not have a security focus. In contrast, the need for heavy icebreakers is very well documented and focused on national security. A draft report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released just last week, warned that,
             
“The United States has insufficient assets to protect its interests, implement U.S. policy, execute its laws, and meet its obligations in the Arctic and Antarctic because it lacks adequate icebreaking capability.”
 
This is because the Coast Guard currently has only one functioning heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star, which was built in 1976 and is well past its 30-year expected operational life. It is no longer reliable, and the cost to maintain it will continue to rise. At this point, its primary mission is to clear a path through the ice to our research facilities in Antarctica, which means that the only icebreaking asset we have in the Arctic is the Healy, the Coast Guard’s only medium class icebreaker. The Polar Star is expected to continue functioning for just three to seven years—leaving the United States with no heavy icebreaking capability.
 
Given that Russia has 41 icebreakers focused on the Arctic that are active or under construction, four of which are heavy icebreakers, we are falling farther and farther behind. This puts the United States at a tremendous disadvantage since we are unable to operate in parts of the Arctic Ocean for months at a time. The National Academy report goes on to recommend that,
             
“The United States Congress should fund the construction of four polar icebreakers of common design that would be owned and operated by the United States Coast Guard.”
 
The fiscal year 2017 Defense funding bill included $150,000,000 as a down payment on what is expected to be nearly a $1,000,000,000 price tag for the first ship. However the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018 the House recently passed includes a provision prohibiting the Pentagon from using any fiscal year 2018 funds to acquire an icebreaker for the Coast Guard; an amendment to strike that provision failed on a recorded vote.
 
The solution is to fund the remaining cost of acquiring heavy icebreakers directly through the Coast Guard budget. While the Coast Guard plans to sign an acquisition contract in fiscal year 2019, it will release a Request for Proposals in fiscal year 2018. Having the funds in hand during the solicitation process would help the Coast Guard get a better deal on the cost of the needed icebreakers.
 
Combined with the $150,000,000 appropriated in fiscal year 2017, this amendment would have made available a total of $2,450,000,000, approximately enough to cover the cost of three heavy icebreakers. According to the NAS report, acquiring three ships at one time would likely save the government nearly $160 million per vessel. With this one amendment, the Committee could have put the United States on a path to securing our sovereign interests in the Arctic region. Instead, the amendment was defeated on a party-line vote.
 
######
 
DIVISION G- DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ENVIRONMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018
 
The following statement is an explanation of the effects of Division G, which makes appropriations for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, and related agencies for fiscal year 2018. The joint explanatory statement accompanying this division is approved and indicates congressional intent. Unless otherwise noted, the language set forth in House Report 115-238 carries the same weight as language included in this joint explanatory statement and should be complied with unless specifically addressed to the contrary in this joint explanatory statement. While some language is repeated for emphasis, it is not intended to negate the language referred to above unless expressly provided herein.
 
 ######
 
TITLE II - ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
  
######
  
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
(INCLUDING RESCISSION OF FUNDS)
 
######
 
 Integrated Risk Information System.-The agreement continues to provide funding for the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program at the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and direction that the program continues within the Office of Research and Development. The committees remain concerned that the program has appeared on the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) High Risk List since 2008. The Committees are aware of progress made by the Agency to implement the 2011 National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Chapter 7 and 2014 NAS report recommendations for the IRIS program, but remain concerned that the recommendations have not been fully implemented. The Committees note that the Agency and the NAS held a workshop in February 2018 to review advances made to the IRIS process, and that an NAS report on IRIS' progress is forthcoming. The Committees are encouraged that the program indicated its willingness to more closely align the development of risk assessments with stated regulatory priorities of the Agency, and believes that these efforts will make the assessments more relevant. The Committees understand that the program intends to continue the development of new methodologies and technologies to enhance the development of future IRIS assessments and encourages the program to do so, while also encouraging the program to ensure that all IRIS methodologies attain the highest scientific rigor. Finally, the Committees urge the expedited completion of the IRIS handbook and direct that the public be afforded an opportunity to provide comment on the handbook before it is placed in use.
 
######
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
HRpt 115-238 - To accompany H.R. 3354 – [M]aking appropriations for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental A25JY0.Protection Agency, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. The bill provides regular annual appropriations for the Department of the Interior (except the Bureau of Reclamation and the Central Utah Project), the Environmental Protection Agency, and for other related agencies, including the Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities.
(7/21/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
 
######
  
TITLE II—ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
 
######
 
 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
  
######
 
 
Alternatives Testing.—The Committee commends EPA for developing new scientific methods, removing barriers, and fostering cooperation in implementing the toxicity testing agenda included in the 2007 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century.” The Committee is also aware that the Agency is incorporating an alternative scientific approach to screen chemicals within its Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program as called for in fiscal year 2015 (House Report 113-551). The Committee is interested in how the Agency is implementing the same approach in all of its programs that involve toxicity testing and recommends that the Agency submit to the Committee a report that outlines (1) progress to date to research, develop, validate and translate innovative non-animal chemical testing methods that characterize toxicity pathways, (2) efforts to coordinate this across Federal agencies, and (3) future plans to continue to implement the toxicity testing vision outlined in the January 2017 NAS report, “Using 21st Century Science to Improve Risk-Related Evaluations” on all Agency programs that involve toxicity testing.
 
 
######
 
 
DIVISION H-DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018
 
In implementing this agreement, the Departments and agencies should be guided by the language and instructions set forth in House Report 115-244 and Senate Report 115-150. In either such report, any reference to the fiscal year 2019 budget request or congressional justification shall be applied to the fiscal year 2020 Justification of Estimates for the Committees on Appropriations.
 
Where the explanatory statement speaks to an issue that was addressed in the House or Senate reports, the explanatory statement should supersede the language in the House or Senate reports. In cases where the House Report and the Senate Report address a particular issue not specifically cited in the explanatory statement, the House Report and the Senate Report should be complied with and carry the same emphasis as the language included in the explanatory statement. In providing the operating plan required by section 516 of this Act, the Departments and agencies funded in this Act are directed to include all programs, projects, and activities, including those in House Report 115-244, Senate Report 115-150, and this explanatory statement. All such programs, projects, and activities are subject to the provisions of this Act.
 
 
######
 
TITLE II
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
 
 
######
 
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
  
######
 
 
EUNICE KENNEDY SHRNER NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CHILD HEALTH AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT (NICHD)
 
Birth Settings Study.-The agreement notes that rates of home and birth center births continue to rise and there is ongoing need for further study on issues related to the choice of birth setting. Therefore, NICHD is directed to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to provide an evidence-based analysis of the complex findings in the research on birth settings, including but not limited to: definitions and assessment of risk factors; access to and choice in birth settings; social determinants that influence risk and outcomes in varying birth settings; financing models for childbirth across settings; and the licensing, training, and accreditation issues impacting professionals providing maternity care across all settings.
 
 
######
 
SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (SAMHSA)
 
 ######
 
National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Review.-Within the total for administration, technical assistance, and evaluation, provided to SAMHSA for the State Opioid Response Grants, the agreement includes $2,000,000 to charter a NAS review within 90 days of enactment of this Act. The NAS review will identify outcomes that are to be achieved by activities authorized in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (P.L. 114-198) and the metrics by which the achievement of such outcomes shall be determined, as required by section 701 of such Act. The NAS study should report on the effectiveness of the programs in achieving their respective goals for preventing, treating, and supporting recovery from substance use disorders. The NAS study will result in the public availability of program level data and recommendations to Congress concerning the appropriate allocation of resources to such programs to ensure cost-effectiveness in the Federal government's response to the opioid addiction epidemic. It is expected that an interim report will be completed within three years after enactment of this Act, and a final report will be completed within five years after enactment of this Act.
 
 
######
 
 TITLE IV
RELATED AGENCIES
  
######
 
 
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (SSA)
LIMITATION ON ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES
 
 
######
 
Capability Determination Process Improvements.-The agreement notes the importance of SSA accurately evaluating an individual's ability to manage---or direct the management of-his or her Social Security benefits. However, a 2016 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, entitled Informing Social Security's Process for Financial Capability Determination, raised concerns about SSA's capability determination process, and a 2015 internal SSA report found that most capability determination decisions are not adequately developed or documented. The agreement is encouraged by the steps SSA is taking to improve its capability determination process and requests a report not later than 60 days after the enactment of this Act on SSA's plans to evaluate the effects of these changes.
  
 
######
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
HRpt 115-244 - To accompany H.R. 3358 – [M]aking appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (except the Food and Drug Administration, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Indian Health Service), Education, Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, Corporation for National and Community Service, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, National Council on Disability, National Labor Relations Board, National Mediation Board, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, Railroad Retirement Board, and the Social Security Administration for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes.
(7/24/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
 
######
 
TITLE II—DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
 
 
######
 
 HEALTH WORKFORCE
 
######
 
Nursing Workforce Development
 
The Committee recognizes the need for a highly educated nursing workforce to reflect the diversity of the populations it serves. The recruitment of culturally and economically diverse individuals positively impacts the classroom and professional practice environments. Exposure to other viewpoints and perspectives serves to advance collaboration that will translate into improved care delivery. The Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs directly bolster this effort by supporting students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds in the nursing profession through recruitment and retention efforts. For example, in Academic Year 2014-2015, the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) Grants program supported 13,225 students and aspiring students, partnering with over 900 clinical training sites. Of these sites, 42 percent were located in medically-underserved areas. Title VIII programs like NWD offer a two-fold benefit: not only are the direct recipients provided financial assistance, but they also connect these clinicians with communities that vary in socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and geographic backgrounds some that experience higher rates of health disparities. The Committee requests HRSA include in the fiscal year 2019 Congressional Justification information on the impact of Title VIII programs on workforce diversity.
 
The Committee is aware of provider shortages and recognizes that training postgraduate Nurse Practitioners in Federally Qualified Health Centers could address aspects of the primary care provider shortage. The Committee supports efforts to train Nurse Practitioners on a model of care consistent with both Institute of Medicine principles and the needs of vulnerable populations. The Committee believes a focus of the program should be training in the integration of primary care and behavioral health, since mental health issues and opioid and other illegal drug addiction remain healthcare priorities.
 
 
######
  
CHRONIC DISEASE PREVENTION AND HEALTH PROMOTION
  
######
 
 
Social Services and Income Maintenance Research.-The agreement includes $500,000 to complete the evidence-based, non-partisan analysis of the macroeconomic, health, and crime/social costs of child poverty - including a study of current efforts aimed at reducing poverty - and to propose recommendations with the goal of reducing the number of children living in poverty in the United States by half in 10 years. The funds are provided to extend the original agreement with the National Academy of Sciences. 
 
######
 
****************************************************************************************************************************************************************** 
SRpt 115-150 - To accompany S. 1771 – [M]aking appropriations for Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes, reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.
(9/7/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
 
 
######
 
TITLE II
 
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
  
######
 
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
 
 
######
 
NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
  
######
 
Psycho-Social Distress Complications.—According to the Institute of Medicine, nearly 50 percent of all cancer patients experience distress. Further, studies suggest that distress in cancer patients leads to higher healthcare costs, less compliance with treatment pathways, and poorer health outcomes. While significant advancements have been made in biomedical treatments in cancer care, the Committee is concerned that the unaddressed psycho-social needs of patients are adversely impacting the effectiveness and cost of care, as well as the individuals’ overall well-being. The Committee encourages NCI to continue to implement distress screenings in the NIH Clinical Center and in NCI-funded clinical trials as appropriate, coordinate and share information on this effort with the FDA, and provide an update on such activities in the fiscal year 2019 CJ.
 
######
 
  NATIONAL CENTER FOR ADVANCING TRANSLATIONAL SCIENCES
  
######
 
Clinical and Translational Science Awards [CTSA] Program.—The Committee includes $533,076,000, an increase of $16,956,000, for the CTSA Program. The Committee is deeply concerned about NCATS’ management of the CTSA program. The Committee has provided robust support for the CTSA program over the past several years and NCATS appears to be both ignoring congressional intent regarding the number of CTSA hubs as well as attempting to erode financial support for the hubs. Specifically, the Committee rejects the recent move to reduce some CTSA awards from a 5 year grant cycle to 4 years. Prior notification or justification of this significant change was not provided to the Committee, the CTSA community, or in any written document. The Committee expects NCATS to rectify this change immediately and directs all awards made in fiscal year 2017 and moving forward to be for 5 years. In addition, the Committee strongly supports efforts by NIH to train the next generation of biomedical researchers by supporting key training programs like the “K” and “T” awards. As stated in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine report in 2013, the CTSA program should build on these and other innovative training and education programs that are helping to bridge the gap between the basic and clinical sciences. Further, the Committee is concerned NCATS is considering changing CTSA’s configuration and funding structure without adequate congressional notification or stakeholder input. Therefore, the Committee directs NCATS to maintain the existing support structure, including maintaining the number of CTSA hub awards at no less than the fiscal year 2016 level, and to continue funding CTSA hub awards for 5 years. NCATS is directed to provide an update to the Committee no later than 120 days after enactment of this act on any proposed changes to the program and prior to any changes being implemented. In addition, the Committee expects the Director to provide quarterly updates to the principal investigators of CTSA hubs and the Committee, jointly, beginning within 30 days of enactment of this act. Finally, the Committee shall be provided written notification at least 3 days in advance of any public release of CTSA grant awards.
 
######
 
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR
 
 
######
 
Next Generation Researchers Initiative.—The Committee supports robust implementation of the Next Generation Researchers Initiative within the Office, as established in the 21st Century Cures Act, and is encouraged by NIH’s continued work in this space. The Committee directs NIH to prioritize improving opportunities for our next generation of researchers by working through the Initiative to coordinate all current and new NIH policies to promote opportunities for new scientists and earlier research independence, including enhancing training and mentorship programs for researchers, and enhancing workforce diversity. As required by the 21st Century Cures Act, the Committee directs NIH to consider the recommendations made by the National Academies of Science study under Public Law 114-113 in carrying out the activities of the Initiative.
 
######
  
HEALTH COSTS, QUALITY, AND OUTCOMES
 
######
 
 
Diagnostic Quality & Safety.—The Committee is concerned about the lack of dedicated research into improving how we diagnose medical conditions, especially given the magnitude of the public health burden of diagnostic failures that lead to patient harm. According to the 2015 report, “Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare”, from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine [NASEM], diagnostic errors have been a “blind spot” for health care delivery and improving diagnosis is a pressing “moral, professional, and public health imperative.” The Committee requests that AHRQ convene a cross-agency working group that will propose a strategy to enhance scientific research to improve diagnosis in healthcare, as outlined in the 2015 NASEM report. This should include a review of current research, as well as consideration of opportunities for public-private partnerships and the development of centers of excellence to propel research forward to improve diagnostic quality and safety while reducing healthcare costs. The Committee requests this information be provided in the fiscal year 2019 CJ.
 
######
 
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
 
GENERAL DEPARTMENTAL MANAGEMENT
 
######
 
 
Eye Health.—The Committee commends the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for the September 2016 release of its report “Making Eye Health a Population Health Imperative: Vision for Tomorrow” which includes recommendations regarding continued leadership by HHS to reduce the burden of vision impairment. The Committee requests an update from the Secretary regarding HHS’ progress in implementing these recommendations in the fiscal year 2019 CJ.
 
 
######
 
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME PROGRAM
 
######
 
 
Medical Vocational Guidelines.—The Committee is dedicated to ensuring that the disabled have access to needed benefits, and strongly encourages SSA to work with us to achieve that goal. The Committee continues to be concerned that SSA uses outdated rules to determine whether or not a claimant meets SSA’s definition of disability. The Committee is encouraged by SSA’s indication that they are beginning the regulatory process, having already received input from the National Disability Forum, the National Institute of Medicine, as well as various aging and employment experts. These initial steps are well received, as Congress continues to work with the Administration to modernize the outdated vocational guidelines into a structure that reflects the 21st century labor market. However, SSA officials have indicated to GAO that the complete update of the occupational grid is not expected to be completed until 2024, and at a cost of $178,000,000. As this is the first significant overhaul of the grid in nearly 40 years, the Committee requests SSA to submit, no later than 60 days after the enactment of this act, a report on its ongoing efforts to update the grid, including the latest status of the Occupational Information System joint project with the Department of Labor. In addition, the report shall include a study assessing the feasibility of maintaining a continuous update of the medical vocational guidelines every 10 years. In conjunction with the agency’s release of findings, the Committee directs SSA, in coordination with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, to brief the Committee on the status and progress of the ongoing update to the Medical Vocational Guidelines no later than 90 days after the enactment of this act.
  
######
 
 
DIVISION J --MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, VETERANS AFFAIRS, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018
 
The following is an explanation of the effects of Division J, which makes appropriations for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies for fiscal year 2018. Unless otherwise noted, reference to the House and Senate reports are to House Report 115-188 and Senate Report 115-130. The language set forth in House Report 115-188 and Senate Report 115-130 should be complied with and carry the same emphasis as the language included in the joint explanatory statement, unless specifically addressed to the contrary in this joint explanatory statement. While repeating some report language for emphasis, this joint explanatory statement does not intend to negate the language referred to above unless expressly provided herein. In cases in which the House or the Senate has directed the submission of a report, such report is to be submitted to both Houses of Congress. House or Senate reporting requirements with deadlines prior to, or within 15 days after enactment of this Act shall be submitted no later than 60 days after enactment of this Act. All other reporting deadlines not specifically directed by this joint explanatory statement are to be met.
 
 
######
 
TITLE II
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
 
VETERANS BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION
COMPENSATION AND PENSIONS
(INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS)
 
 
######
 
GENERAL OPERATING EXPENSES, VETERANS BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION
 
######
 
 
Compensation claims for Camp Lejeune contaminated water veterans.-There is concern regarding the lack of consistency in the Department's handling of disability compensation claims for veterans, former reservists, and former National Guard members who served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for no less than 30 days (consecutive or nonconsecutive) between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. VA established a presumption of service connection for eight diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune during that period. The Department made the decision to subject nonpresumptive Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water (CLCW) exposure claims to a higher level of scrutiny than is applied to other exposure claims and did so without providing notice or an opportunity for public comment. In addition, no other toxic exposure claims require a positive medical opinion to warrant service connection. The evidentiary burden VA requires for CLCW nonpresumptive exposure claims is significantly greater than the standard used for Agent Orange or any other exposure claims. Furthermore, there currently exists a wealth of "competent medical evidence" specific to diseases related to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, as published by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the Institute of Medicine (IoM), and other government-sanctioned medical experts. Nevertheless, the Department's same Clinical Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), who provide medical opinions, have routinely rejected ATSDR and IoM's findings without providing any justification or explanation for doing so.
 
######
 
VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
 
######
 
 
MEDICAL SERVICES
 
######
 
 
Overmedication. -- As indicated in the Senate report, and in addition to the funding levels highlighted for opioid abuse above, the agreement provides $500,000 for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct an assessment of the potential overmedication of veterans during fiscal years 2010 to 2017 that led to suicides, deaths, mental disorders, and combat-related traumas.
 
 
######
 
Burn pits. -The agreement provides $5,000,000 for the purpose of implementing the recommendations included in National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's assessment to improve the VA open burn pit registry.
 
######
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
SRpt 115-130 - To accompany S. 1557 – [M]aking appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes, reports favorably thereon and recommends that the bill do pass.
(7/13/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 
 
######
 
VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
 
######
 
MEDICAL SERVICES
 
######
 
ITEMS OF INTEREST
 
######
 
Improving Federal Burn Pits Registry.—The Committee provides an additional $5,000,000 for the purpose of implementing the recommendations included in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Assessment of the Department of Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry for improving the registry. The Department is directed to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress no later than 90 days after enactment of this act assessing the cost and timeline of implementation of each of the report’s recommendations.
 
 
######
 
COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION
 
######
 
Exposure to Agent Orange by Certain Navy Veterans.—Under the Agent Orange Act of 1991 (Public Law 102-4), most veterans of deployments to Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 became entitled to compensation for certain illnesses linked to exposure to Agent Orange defoliant, including the “Blue Water” Navy veterans who served in the Navy outside of the riverine and coastal areas. However, beginning in 2002, new Department interpretation of the law prevented Blue Water Navy veterans from collecting benefits unless they could prove to have been on a ship proven to have entered inland water or sailors who proved they had been ashore. In 2016, the Department reiterated its policy and added further restrictions by removing certain harbors that used to carry a presumption of exposure, while outside the VA a growing body of research supports the assumption of presumption of exposure. In a fact sheet published about the decision, VA noted only a 2011 Institute of Medicine study on Agent Orange exposure among Blue Water Navy veterans, which found that exposure at sea could not be proven, assuming ships followed certain best practices that veterans anecdotally report were regularly ignored. The Department is directed to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress no later than 90 days after enactment of this act evaluating each of the U.S. and non-U.S. studies on Agent Orange exposure since 1980 that are relevant to the question of Blue Water Navy sailors to justify the 2016 decision.
 
Cancer Moonshot Contribution.—The Committee supports the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot initiative and the Department’s contribution utilizing advances in genomic science to provide targeted treatment to veterans. The Department has identified prostate cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, and colorectal cancer as areas of priority. Due to the prevalence of various skin cancers among service members, the Committee directs that skin cancer be included as well.
 
Overprescription Prevention Report.—The Committee is discouraged by multiple GAO reports retaining VHA on the “high-risk” list and the unfathomable increase in polydrug use and narcotics prescriptions by VA related to pain management and mental health treatment. Specifically, combinations of opioid and Benzodiazepines have proven fatal when taken concurrently, with research demonstrating this phenomenon for nearly 40 years. The Committee provides $500,000 to enter into an agreement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct an assessment to research, collect, and analyze the potential overmedication of veterans during fiscal years 2010-2017 that led to veterans deaths, veterans suicides, treatment of mental disorders, pain management practices, mental health staffing levels, and combat related trauma.
 
Gulf War Illness Studies.—The Committee recommends the Department continue to conduct epidemiological studies regarding the prevalence of Gulf War illness, morbidity, and mortality in Persian Gulf War veterans and the development of effective treatments, preventions, and cures. The Committee is concerned by the lack of public availability of the findings of all research conducted by or for the Executive Branch relating to the health consequences of military service in the Persian Gulf theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War and by the lack of coordination by the Department in ensuring the public availability of this information. The Committee urges the Department to publish disease-specific mortality data related specifically to Persian Gulf War veterans. The Committee remains concerned by VA’s ever-evolving terminology for the signature adverse health outcome of the Persian Gulf War as recognized by the Institute of Medicine [IOM]—Gulf War illness—and encourages the Department to utilize the term, “Gulf War illness,” as IOM has recommended. The Committee continues to urge the Secretary to consider revising and updating the Clinical Practice Guideline for Chronic Multisymptom Illness [CMI] consistent with the July 2011 Veterans Health Initiative, “Caring for Gulf War Veterans,” in that it, “cannot be reliably ascribed to any known psychiatric disorder,” and to focus on recent Gulf War illness treatment research findings and ongoing Gulf War illness treatment research direction. Furthermore, the Committee once again encourages VA to strengthen the training of primary, specialty, and mental healthcare providers on the Gulf War illness case definitions recommended by IOM.
  
######
 
 
DIVISION L- TRANSPORTATION, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018
 
CONGRESSIONAL DIRECTIVES
 
Unless otherwise noted, the language and allocations set forth in the House report (House Report 115-237) and the Senate report (Senate Report 115-138) carry the same weight as the language included in this joint explanatory statement and should be complied with unless specifically addressed to the contrary in this division or joint explanatory statement. House report language and Senate report language, neither of which is changed by this joint explanatory statement, is a result of the 2018 appropriations agreement. The joint explanatory statement, while repeating some report language for emphasis, does not intend to negate the language referred to above unless expressly provided herein. In cases where the House or the Senate has directed the submission of a report, such report is to be submitted to both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. The Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are directed to notify the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations seven days prior to the announcement of a new program, initiative, or authority. Any reprogramming requests must be submitted to the Committees on Appropriations no later than June 30, 2018.
 
 ######
  
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
HRpt 115-237 - To accompany S. 3353 – [M]aking appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. 
(7/21/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
 
######
 
AVIATION SAFETY
 
######
 
Safety critical staffing.—In September, 2006, the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) released a congressionally-mandated study (Section 506(c) of P.L. 108-176) on the staffing standards required for aviation safety inspectors. Given the increased integration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into the national airspace, the FAA safety inspector workforce must be sufficient to manage core safety inspection responsibilities along with emerging inspection challenges related to UAVs and other technologies. Efforts to update the current safety critical staffing model are important, however, the Committee is interested in learning how well the FAA adhered to the staffing standard that was developed in 2006. The Committee directs the GAO to conduct a review of the FAA’s implementation of and compliance with the NAS staffing standard for aviation safety inspectors. The study should identify revisions that were made to the 2006 staffing standard and examine the FAA’s rationale for making any changes. The Committee directs the GAO to provide a report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations within 180 days of enactment of this Act.
 
######
 
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************
HRpt 115-138 - To accompany S. 1655 – [M]aking appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes, reports favorably thereon and recommends that the bill do pass.
(7/27/17)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
  
######
 
FEDERAL-AID HIGHWAYS
 
(LIMITATION ON OBLIGATIONS)
 
(HIGHWAY TRUST FUND)
 
######
 
 
COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION
 
######
 
Research.—FHWA’s April 2016 “Truck Size and Weight Limits Study” revealed data limitations that hampered efforts to conclusively study the effect of changing the size and weight of various truck configurations. While there are inadequate performance data from the operational use of these vehicles in a number of States, the Committee is aware of ongoing efforts between the Department, the NAS, and the Transportation Research Board to develop a Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Research Plan. The Committee is also aware of an ongoing study to synthesize and compare past work, empirical models, and current legal operation of twin 33-foot trailers, LCVs, and other configurations. Should the Department find that there is a lack of available data, the Committee directs the Department to work with the State departments of transportation to establish best practices for data collection relating to truck configurations. The Department is directed to incorporate those practices and begin accumulating such data to supplement the ongoing Research Plan. The Committee directs the Secretary to finalize the Research Plan within one calendar year of the enactment of this act, and to submit a report on the results of this effort to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations within 30 days of completion. The Committee further directs the Secretary to submit a report on the status of this effort to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations no later than 180 days after the enactment of this act.
 
######