Congressional News

House Science Committee Approves NSF Spending in Reconciliation Package

On September 9, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee met to pass a set of spending recommendations that allocate $45.5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2022 spending as part of the House Democrats’ wide-reaching “Build Back Better” plan. The $3.5 trillion in total proposed spending (over 5-10 years) would be passed as part of the budget reconciliation process (which removes several procedural hurdles to passing such legislation) and would be in addition to regular FY 2022 appropriations (see COSSA’s analysis of the House’s FY 2022 appropriations bills here). The Science Committee’s recommendations would provide the National Science Foundation (NSF)…

House Passes Funding Bills for Labor-HHS-Education, Agriculture

On July 29, the House of Representatives passed a six-bill package of spending legislation for the next fiscal year (FY), FY 2022. The package (H.R. 4502) included both the Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education and Agriculture appropriations bills (see COSSA’s analysis). As it breaks for August recess, the House has passed nine of its 13 annual spending bills. Among the bills left to pass are the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill (which funds the National Science Foundation) and the Department of Defense appropriations bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee, meanwhile, has started marking up its bills this week….

New House Social Determinants of Health Caucus Seeks Stakeholder Input

A newly formed Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus is seeking the public’s input on challenges and opportunities related to social determinants of health. The bipartisan caucus, which held a launch event on July 21, is co-chaired by Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Tom Cole (R-OK), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). The caucus “will explore opportunities to improve the impact of services delivered to address social determinants with the support of federal funding” and “work to amplify evidence-based approaches to holistic well-being.” The request for information asks stakeholders to respond to a list of questions relating to how to…

House Committee Approves FY 2022 Funding Bills

Over the last few weeks, the House Appropriations Committee began considering its annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2022, including the bills that fund federal science, research, and data activities. At least on the House side, the FY 2022 bills are in many ways a stark contrast to the spending measures we have seen over the last several years. This is for a few reasons. First, the spending caps that have placed limits on discretionary spending over the last decade expired in FY 2021 and new ones have not yet been set. Second, it is common to see major…

Senate Committee Considers Biden’s Census Pick

On July 15, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Robert L. Santos, the Biden Administration’s nominee to lead the U.S. Census Bureau (see previous coverage). In his opening statement, Santos, the current president of the American Statistical Association, described himself as a “a scientist, executive level manager, policy researcher, and long-time friend and supporter of the Census Bureau and the entire federal statistical system” and noted that while he would be serving in a politically appointed role, he is “not a politician.” COSSA joined over 30 stakeholder organizations…

House Immigration Subcommittee Holds Hearing on U.S. Immigration Policy and Foreign Talent

On July 13, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship held a hearing to discuss if current U.S. immigration policies are pushing foreign-born talent to other countries, specifically Canada, including talent in science and research. The subcommittee heard testimony from Executive Director of the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) Stuart Anderson; Associate Professor at Howard University Dr. Ronil Hira; Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dr. Sudip Parikh; and Chief Executive Officer of Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) Jennifer G. Young. Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ranking member Tom…

HOT TOPIC: Competing Visions – The NSF for the Future Act and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act

In June 2021, the House and Senate advanced separate versions of legislation to enhance U.S. innovation and global competitiveness. The approaches taken by the two bills, however, differ dramatically. The Senate bill focuses squarely on ways to harness and in some cases alter the nation’s scientific assets to better compete with China. The House bill, on the other hand, doubles down on the nation’s existing, proven scientific leadership and proposes additional investments to push the U.S. research enterprise—particularly the National Science Foundation—into new directions. Despite the many differences between them, some parallels can be found; for example, both propose establishing…

COSSA Urges Advocates to Contact Elected Officials in Support of Social Science in FY 2022

As Congressional appropriators are preparing legislation that will determine funding for federal science and data agencies for the next year, COSSA released an action alert urging social science advocates to reach out to their Congressional representatives to tell them to fight for robust investments in social and behavioral science research and data. COSSA created a menu of letters that stakeholders can send to their Members of Congress to share their priorities for the coming year. COSSA’s TAKE ACTION page allows advocates to quickly send a letter to their Senators and Representative and tell them why they care about supporting the National Science…

Senate Passes Sweeping U.S. Competitiveness Legislation, Includes Endless Frontier Act

On June 8, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) (S. 1260). The 2,300 page bill was originally introduced in the spring as the Endless Frontier Act, which sought to shore up U.S. leadership in key technology areas—specifically with respect to China—and to enhance “tech transfer” for scientific research funded by the federal government. Since then, hundreds of amendments have been offered, resulting in a substantially altered package that now incorporates several additional, far-reaching bills. The original proposal authorized $100 billion over five years specifically for a new Technology and Innovation Directorate at the National Science Foundation….

House Science Committee Advances NSF Legislation

On June 15, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee advanced the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act (H.R. 2225). The next stop for the legislation is consideration by the full House of Representatives, which as of this writing has not been scheduled. As previously reported, the NSF for the Future Act is sweeping legislation to reauthorization NSF through 2026. Most notably, the bill includes the establishment of a new research directorate, the Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions. COSSA issued a statement in support of the NSF for the Future Act on May 7, applauding the bill…

HELP Committee Considers Higher Ed Reopening

On June 17, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) held a hearing to discuss the previous response and aid provided to institutions of higher education in light of COVID-19 and what these schools require moving forward to safely return to campus. The committee heard testimony from Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, Vice Provost of Enrollment Management at UCLA; Dr. Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University of Louisiana; Anthony Harris, a student at Baldwin Wallace University; and Madeline Pumariega, President of Miami Dade College. Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) both were in agreement that…

House and Senate Appropriators Hold Hearings on NIH Budget for FY 2022

The Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) in both the House and the Senate recently held hearings to discuss the fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Since both hearings were held prior to the full release of President Biden’s FY 2022 budget request, much of the discussion focused on the proposed increase to the top-line budget for NIH as well as the proposal for a new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) as referenced in the Biden Administration’s “skinny budget” released earlier this year. The House…

House Sends Slate of Science Bills to the Senate

On May 17, the House of Representatives approved a group of bills introduced in the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee that aim to make the U.S. science enterprise more equitable, safe, and fair. Four bills, the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act (H.R. 144), the STEM Opportunities Act (H.R. 204), the MSI STEM Achievement Act (H.R. 2027), and the Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act (H.R. 2695) were introduced by Science Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson and were endorsed by COSSA. The Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act would authorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a two-year pilot program to award…

House Science Committee Discusses NSF’s Future

As previously reported, leaders of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee introduced the National Science Foundation for the Future Act (H.R. 2225) earlier this spring. Over the last several weeks, the Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a series of hearings to discuss the bill and, more generally, “Advancing Research for the Future of U.S. Innovation.” On April 28, the hearing featured NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan and Chair of the National Science Board Ellen Ochoa. A second hearing featuring stakeholders of NSF funding, including representatives from research universities and the private sector, occurred on May 6. COSSA issued a…

Senate Committee Considers Lander Nomination to OSTP

On April 29, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing to discuss the nomination of Dr. Eric Lander as President Biden’s pick to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), a role that the President has elevated to Cabinet-level. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) chaired the hearing and in her opening remarks, she acknowledged Lander’s scientific accomplishments, but also noted concerns about past actions related to women and minorities in STEM fields. The hearing provided an opportunity to clear the record on these and other issues and to explore Dr. Lander’s positions and goals…

Competing NSF Bills Introduced in House and Senate

As previously reported, leadership of the House Science Committee introduced the NSF for the Future Act (H.R. 2225) on March 26. The bill seeks to reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) through FY 2026 and proposes more than doubling the agency’s budget over that period. The legislation also proposes the creation of a new research directorate, the Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions (SES), which would enable NSF to “take big risks and experiment with new approaches to accelerating the translation of science and technology into solutions to society’s major challenges” (see press release). Meanwhile, competing legislation has been reintroduced…

Appropriators Hold Hearings on NSF Budget for FY 2022 & Potential New Research Funding

This month, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees held hearings to address the Biden Administration’s proposed budget for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in fiscal year (FY) 2022. In addition to the budget, both hearings addressed the possibility of significant funding increases for the agency through a new technology directorate as proposed in the Endless Frontiers Act (S. 1260) (see related article). NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan was the sole witness at both hearings, voicing strong support for the Biden Administration’s proposed increases to the NSF budget. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) held its…

House Science Committee Reintroduces Legislation to Combat Sexual Harassment in Science

On April 20, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (SST) reintroduced the Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act (H.R. 2695), bipartisan legislation that would expand research on the causes and consequences of sexual harassment in the STEM workforce as well as direct data to influence policy to reduce the negative impacts of sexual harassment. COSSA has been an endorser of the legislation since 2018 when it was first introduced (see previous coverage for more details). More information is available in a press release available on the…

Senate Focuses on Research Security, Introduces New Anti-China Provisions

The Senate has directed its attention towards competition with China as of late, resulting in activities focusing on research security as an extension of U.S.-China policy. On April 15, the Strategic Competition Act of 2021 (S. 1169) was introduced in the Senate by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Jim Risch (R-ID), the Chairman and Ranking Member respectively of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The bipartisan bill includes a long list of measures related to competition with China, including issues related to the security of the U.S. research enterprise. One section of the bill controversially increases oversight at academic institutions on…

Congress Holds Hearings on Behavioral Health

Over the past several weeks, Congressional Committees have held several hearings to discuss mental and behavioral health care, including mental health parity and emergency response to mental health crises. On April 15, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing on “Meeting the Moment: Improving Access to Behavioral and Mental Health Care.” The Subcommittee heard testimony from Chief of Psychology in the Public Interest at the American Psychological Association (APA) Brian Smedley, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Christine Moutier, Senior Vice President of Health Policy at The ERISA…

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