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US news roundup: 27 November to 3 December


This week: questions over civil service appointments, cybersecurity obstacles and Kerry returns as climate defender

In depth: Senior staff at universities in the United States have reported facing increasing pressure in areas including federal scrutiny of foreign researchers, overreliance on government funding, and erosion of public support for universities.

Full storyUS university leaders report increasing pressures on research


Also this week from Research Professional News

Fears Chinese moon mission ‘threatens US space leadership’—Congressional Republican warns that mission to gather rock samples is ominous sign


Here is the rest of the US news this week…

House committee chairs dig into political appointees

Democratic chairs of House committees and subcommittees have written to 61 federal agencies, asking how many political appointees have been given permanent civil service roles. “Protecting the nonpartisan expertise of the career civil service is essential to the safety and security of the American people,” they said. The list of agencies queried included the National Science Foundation, Nasa and the Department of Health and Human Services, which incorporates the National Institutes of Health. The agencies had not responded to requests for comment from Research Professional News at the time of going to press.

Cybersecurity standard ‘will shut us out’, universities warn

Five university and college associations have written to the Department of Defense, claiming that an interim departmental rule on cybersecurity standards will stop universities from doing fundamental research for the department. The associations asked the department to clarify whether fundamental research will be exempt. Otherwise, the rule “will detrimentally affect [US] national security and economic competitiveness”, they warned. The department had not provided a comment to Research Professional News at the time of going to press.

Praise for Biden climate pick

Leading Democrats in Congress have welcomed the selection of John Kerry as climate envoy by president-elect Joe Biden. The new role will see Kerry, who signed the Paris climate change agreement while serving as secretary of state under Barack Obama, take a position on the National Security Council. Chair of the House science committee Eddie Bernice Johnson said it is “past time that our nation resumes its position as a world leader in addressing the climate crisis”, while senator Tom Carper said the first-ever climate position on the NSC was “historic”.