Yesterday, February 14, the House passed HR 1834, the National Ocean Exploration Program Act (amended), by a vote of 352-49. The bill would authorize the National Ocean Exploration Program and the National Undersea Research Program, two extramural research programs within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The amended bill differs very little from the bill that was reported out of the House Science and Technology and the House Natural Resources committees a few months ago. The bill would charge the NOAA Administrator with developing, in coordination with NSF, a competitive process for merit-based peer review and approval for proposals to the Ocean Exploration Program. In addition, the bill maintains authorization of appropriations levels for fiscal year 2008 ($30.5 million) through fiscal year 2014 ($54 million) for Ocean Exploration; the original bill as introduced authorized the program for 10 years, through 2017.