Week 2: Laws and Sausages

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Sunday, June 13, 2021


Guido Dominguez

Another week in the books! Suffice to say that if I thought I was busy last week, I was wrong. This week I had the opportunity to sit in on four different committee hearings in both the House and the Senate, as well as a panel hosted by Foreign Policy magazine. Because Congress is in the midst of the process for approving the Fiscal Year 2022 budget (which goes into effect October 1st 2021), most of my hearings revolve around the FY2022 budget requests for different federal departments and agencies. This last week I had the opportunity to see the budget requests for the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA. 

While I’m taking notes on and summarizing what goes on during these committee hearings, I am also working on other projects for the committee that I can’t talk about yet. I’m excited to be branching out and seeing another aspect of the work that committee staff do to keep the wheels turning in the complex machine that is Congress. In doing my work for the committee so far, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the immense work that goes into preparing for hearings and is done during the entire appropriations and legislative process. 

Otto von Bismarck (or John Godfrey Saxe, depending on who you ask) once said “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” I have to strongly disagree with the father of German unification. While on the news you see reports every single day about how far apart both political parties are or how often they fail to reach agreement, I invite you to sit down and watch a committee hearing. What you will see is that while occasionally members are less than cordial, more often than not they are not only very respectful and friendly to one another but also tend to have similar goals and even agree on the details of policies. 

This is especially true when it comes to the committee hearings I’ve seen centered on science policy, broadband access, NOAA, EPA, and NASA. This congress is currently considering multiple bills (including the Endless Frontiers Act and the National Science Foundation for the Future Act) that will vastly increase the funds allocated to fundamental science research at both the National Science Foundation and NIST, with the Endless Frontiers Act increasing the NSF’s funding by $100 billion over the next 5 years. These actions, along with the large new investments in green infrastructure, the EPA (which is currently on track to get a 22% increase in its budget), and other science focused departments and agencies, send a clear message that this congress is serious about science. And it makes me feel honored that I can say I was even in the “room” (or in my case the virtual video conference line) while these initiatives were first being considered.

I’m excited for next week, when the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will be holding a markup on H.R. 2225, and H.R. 3593, respectively titled: The NSF for the Future Act and The Department of Energy for the Future Act. 

Until then,

Guido Dominguez (he/him/his)