Science

Universal Vaccine Research Moves Ahead After Deadly Flu Season
Yearly vaccines still only 10 to 60 percent effective, NIH official says

Simone Groper receives a flu shot at a Walgreens pharmacy in San Francisco in January. After a particularly deadly flu season, trials for a universal vaccine are advancing. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Scientists from across the country and the globe are making progress toward developing a universal flu vaccine, but reaching that goal will likely still take years, a top administration health official said Wednesday.

The National Institutes of Health recently funded a phase two clinical trial of what is one of several likely candidates for a universal influenza vaccine, said Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the NIH. The first version of a vaccine that might protect against any type of flu likely won’t actually be universal but more targeted to specific strains, though, Fauci said.

Thune Adding TSA, NTSB Bills to FAA Authorization
‘This may be our one shot at actually moving a major piece of legislation’

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune is including additional transportation-related bills in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, he said in a Wednesday interview.

In an effort to broaden the appeal of a four-year FAA authorization bill, he was including other committee-approved bills to authorize the Transportation Security Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The move is also an effort to clear as much of the committee’s business as possible when an opportunity for floor time arises, he said.

Opinion: Even Tricky Dick Didn’t Bow and Scrape to Brezhnev
Trump’s Helsinki performance alone is worse than Watergate

When former President Richard Nixon met with a Russian leader after Watergate, he didn’t use the occasion to diss U.S. law enforcement, U.S. intelligence agencies or democracy, Walter Shapiro writes. (Courtesy the National Archives and Records Administration)

“Worse than Watergate” is an epithet that Donald Trump supporters hurl like a javelin at the FBI and the Robert Mueller investigation. But after looking back at the history, it is easy to conclude that Trump’s hellish Helsinki press conference was by itself worse than Watergate.

Like Trump with his shrill denials of any collusion with the Russians, Richard Nixon had publicly insisted that he had no knowledge of the 1972 Watergate break-in or the frenzied cover-up.

Shelby: Appropriations’ First-Ever Female Staff Director Is ‘Tough, Absolutely’
Shannon Hines says she hasn’t had much time to think about her breakthrough role

Shannon Hines, left, and Sen. Richard C. Shelby at the June 28 full committee markup. (Courtesy of the Appropriations Committee)

For the first time ever, a female staff director has the reins of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

Shannon Hines took the job after her longtime boss, Sen. Richard C. Shelby, became chairman in April.

A Visit to the Balkans Casts Light on the Divisions in America
Balkan-like partisanship in the U.S. set to get more intense, experts say

The “Warrior on a Horse” statue in downtown Skopje, Macedonia. American politics has increasingly taken on a Balkan flavor with party affiliation coming in the way of finding policy solutions. (Boris Grdanoski/AP file photo)

SKOPJE, Macedonia — A statue depicting an ancient soldier, thrusting a sword skyward, on horseback, rises in the main square here. Across the Macedonian capital’s famed Stone Bridge is another, of Philip II, urging on his son.

But locals are quick to provide visitors to the Balkan nation this advice: Whatever you do, “do not” refer to the equine-mounted fighter as Alexander the Great. The statue is known simply as “Warrior on a Horse.” For now, at least.

The President’s Mission to Mars Is a Real Long Shot
Trump really wants to go to Mars, but he’ll have to convince Congress, private companies and scores of scientists

President Donald Trump receives a flight jacket from NASA officials during a bill signing ceremony last year. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

For a man known for grandiose ambitions, perhaps President Donald Trump’s most lofty is his pledge, formalized in a December order, to land a human being on the surface of Mars.

It would be easy to doubt Trump’s seriousness, given that he’s equally known for inconsistent follow-through. But Trump has raised the idea repeatedly since that order, most recently last month before the National Space Council, the advisory group Trump revived last year and tasked Vice President Mike Pence with running.

Q&A: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
‘What we don’t know about the moon is critical’ and could change ‘the balance of power on Earth’

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is interviewed for the “CQ on Congress” podcast on June 28. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate confirmed Jim Bridenstine to lead NASA in April after months of delay related to Democrats’ concerns about his commitment to the agency’s climate research and Republican infighting over its resources.

During two terms in the House, and the start of a third, Bridenstine was a space enthusiast. He served on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and drafted an ambitious bill to overhaul the way the government manages its space resources.

Trump Taps Senate’s Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms for NASA Post
Morhard to be nominated to be deputy administrator of the space agency

Deputy Senate Sergeant at Arms James W. Morhard is interviewed by Roll Call in the Capitol, January 9, 2015. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The deputy sergeant-at-arms of the Senate has been picked by President Donald Trump to be the deputy administrator of NASA.

James W. Morhard, who has been deputy SAA since Republicans took over the Senate majority in 2015, has largely focused on the various administrative functions of the Senate.

Opinion: Why the Kavanaugh Pick Is Not as Safe as It Seems
Collins and Murkowski aren’t the only Republicans who could balk at Trump’s choice

Sen. Rand Paul could be the one to throw a wrench in the Supreme Court confirmation, even as all eyes turn to a pair of his colleagues, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It is a memory seared into Brett Kavanaugh’s soul — and it may well be an image that briefly flickers through his mind every time a loud siren goes off in Washington.

In his Monday night East Room debut as Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Kavanaugh harked back to working for George W. Bush on 9/11. Introducing his wife, Ashley, Kavanaugh said, “We met in 2001 when we both worked in the White House. Our first date was on Sept. 10, 2001. The next morning, I was a few steps behind her as the Secret Service shouted at all of us to sprint out the front gates of the White House because there was an inbound plane.”

Health Statistics See Funding Lag Amid Boosts Elsewhere
Advocates are concerned a critical national survey could soon disappear

A heroin user reads an alert on fentanyl in New York City in August 2017. The National Center for Health Statistics produces drug overdose death counts that it updates monthly, but stagnant funding for health statistics puts the future of such surveys in jeopardy. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

Stagnant funding for federal health statistics is raising concerns among medical professionals, patient advocates and other groups that one of the national surveys used to assess the death rate from opioid abuse and average life expectancy may soon disappear.

Funding for the National Center for Health Statistics has fallen from $166 million five years ago to $160 million this year. And while the Senate is proposing a $1 million increase for health statistics for fiscal 2019, the House has proposed level funding and the Trump administration is calling for a $5 million cut.