Busy June Ahead for Lawmakers

Congress returns from Memorial Day recess with renewed pressure to enact legislation to stem gun violence in the United States following the most recent mass shootings over the last few weeks. House leaders have promised a vote on one such package (H.R. 7910) later this week; however, the Senate requires a super majority (60 votes) in order to pass such a bill, making the bill a much bigger lift.

In addition, as previously reported, Congress is also steeped in the annual appropriations process for fiscal year (FY) 2023. While earlier in the year it was hinted that markups on the 12 annual spending bills could begin in the House this month, none have been scheduled to date (although it is still possible). Among the holdups is agreement on top-line funding levels for next year. Until the House and Senate Appropriations Chairs agree to total discretionary spending levels for FY 2023, the subcommittees and bills under their jurisdiction remain in a holding pattern. Most observers agree that FY 2023 will be a challenging funding year for just about every account, including science, with federal funds being limited and lawmakers’ priorities continuing to grow. While it is common for the annual appropriations bills to get delayed until the fall or even the next calendar year, especially in an election year, a number of top appropriators are retiring at the end of this year (more here and here), adding pressure to complete the bills thus securing their legacies. The next several weeks leading up to the August recess will be critical for determining a path forward for FY 2023 spending bills.

Another bill closely watched by science advocates is the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521), a massive legislative package aimed at advancing the U.S. STEM enterprise and shoring up U.S. scientific competitiveness, especially with respect to China. A conference committee between the House and Senate has been working behind closed doors for several weeks to negotiate to compromise, which some hope to secure before the summer break. Given the many competing priorities on Capitol Hill, it is unclear whether that timing will stick.


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