Details of House Democrats’ Reconciliation Proposals Released; Road to Passage Still Unclear
As previously reported, House Democrats are currently working to pass their $3.5 billion “Build Back Better” plan through the fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget reconciliation process. As part of the process, authorizing committees have been tasked with making recommendations for how to allocate the funding in the plan. At this point, all committees have made and approved their recommendations, which have been compiled by the House Budget Committee into a final package to be approved by the full House. Negotiations are underway with various wings of the Democratic caucus to reach an agreement to pass the full bill in the next week. Details of some of the committee recommendations most relevant to the social sciences are described below. See COSSA’s previous coverage for more on the House Science Committee’s recommendations for National Science Foundation funding. In addition, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has compiled further details on the package related to science.
The House Agriculture Committee’s recommendations would provide additional funding, available through fiscal year (FY) 2031, to research and statistics program at the Department of Agriculture in addition to their regular FY 2022 appropriations. The Economic Research Service (ERS) would receive an additional $45 million for analysis and research related to climate change, and the Office of the USDA Chief Economist would receive an additional $3.2 million for the same purpose. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) would receive a total of $54 million: $40 million for data and research related to climate change and $14 million to collect data on urban, indoor, and emerging agricultural production as directed in the 2018 Farm Bill. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) would receive $4.8 billion in funding between FY 2022 and FY 2026. Within that amount, NIFA’s extramural research Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (NIFA) would receive $200 million to fund research related to climate change.
The Energy and Commerce portion of the package recommends $7 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support core public health infrastructure. In addition, the committee would allocate an additional $5 billion to support the CDC’s laboratory infrastructure and $1 billion for CDC’s surveillance capabilities. The package would also set aside for $1.25 billion for the CDC to make grants to “strengthen vaccine confidence, strengthen routinely recommended vaccine programs, and improve rates of vaccination.” The CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative, which has received significant investments in previous relief bills would be provided with an additional $500 million to be used for “(1) Supporting public health data surveillance, aggregation, and analytics infrastructure modernization initiatives; (2) Enhancing reporting and workforce core competencies in informatics and digital health; [and] (3) Expanding and maintaining efforts to modernize the United States disease warning system to forecast and track hotspots and emerging biological threats.”
The Energy and Commerce Committee’s recommendations also include a section on maternal mortality. It recommends providing $50 million in grants to minority-serving institutions to be used for: “(1) Developing and implementing systematic processes of listening to the stories of pregnant and postpartum individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups, and perinatal health workers supporting such individuals, to fully understand the causes of, and inform potential solutions to, the maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity crisis within their respective communities; (2) Assessing the potential causes of relatively low rates of maternal mortality among Hispanic individuals and foreign-born Black women; and (3) Assessing differences in rates of adverse maternal health outcomes among subgroups identifying as Hispanic.” The Energy and Commerce piece also recommends $3 billion to establish an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the high-risk high-reward research agency that has been a frequently touted priority of the Biden Administration (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). In addition, language authorizing ARPA-H is likely to be included in the Cures 2.0 legislation expected to be introduced any day now by Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI). The Committee also recommends $15 million in additional funding for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support research on mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pregnant and postpartum individuals, with a particular focus on racial and ethnic minorities.