Issue 22 (November 10)


Senate Kicks Off Lame Duck Session by Releasing FY 2021 Spending Bills

The Senate Appropriations Committee released all 12 of its annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2021, which would fund the government for the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2020. The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires on December 11 (see COSSA’s previous coverage). The House released all of its annual appropriations bills in July and passed 10 of them (see COSSA’s analysis). The Senate Appropriations Committee is not planning to consider the bills; rather, they will be used as a starting point for negotiations with House appropriators as both chambers attempt to reach an agreement to fund the government ahead of the December 11 deadline.

COSSA members can expect to receive COSSA’s full analysis of the Senate’s funding proposals for social science agencies in their inboxes later this week. You can ensure you are receiving COSSA’s members-only emails by filling out this form.

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President-Elect Biden and a Divided Congress: 2021 Policy Outlook

The results of the 2020 elections seemed to have something for everyone to be happy (or unhappy) about. Former Vice President Joe Biden pulled out a convincing electoral victory, and while President Trump has yet to concede and his team continues to threaten legal challenges to the results, these protestations seem to be largely political theater at this point. However, while winning the White House was obviously the most important outcome for Democrats, they dramatically underperformed expectations in the Congressional races. This outcome likely leaves President-elect Biden with a difficult landscape to navigate in order to enact his policy agenda after the transition.

Presidential Transition

With the presidential race decided, attention now turns to the presidential transition. Almost immediately, the President-elect’s team began moving forward with plans and key appointments. The President-elect launched a transition website that so far lists four major priorities for the new Administration: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change. In addition, the transition team has appointed a COVID-19 Advisory Board headed by David Kessler, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner and Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco; Vivek Murthy, former U.S. Surgeon General; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, Associate Dean for Health Equity Research at the Yale School of Medicine. COSSA will continue to provide updates on plans for the transition, including notable policies and appointments.

House Races

While Democrats headed into Election Day hoping to expand their majority in the House of Representatives, the results tell a different story. The House will likely remain under Democratic control; however, at the time of this writing, Republicans flipped eight seats while Democrats have netted only three.

Notable Results:

  • Donna Shalala (D-FL), former Clinton cabinet member and professor of political science, was defeated in a re-match with Maria Elvira Salazar (R).
  • Kendra Horn (D-OK), member of the House Science Committee, lost to Oklahoma State Senator Stephanie Bice (R).
  • Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), PhD political scientist and social science champion, lost his primary bid to a more progressive Democrat, Marie Newman, earlier this year. Newman went on to win the seat against her Republican challenger in the general election.

Despite these losses, several major science—including social science—champions on both sides of the aisle won reelection. A few races remain too close to call, such as incumbent Rep. Matt Cartwright’s (D-PA) bid against Trump booster Jim Bognet (R); Rep. Cartwright is a pro-science member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Also important to watch is the incoming Republican freshman class, which will be skewed pro-Trump. Of particular note is the election of Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO), both proud QAnon conspiracy theorists, and Ronny Jackson (R-TX), who served as the White House physician from 2013-2018.

Senate Races

Underwhelming performance by Democrats in the Senate races was also a major headline, especially given that Democrats went into Election Day with the real potential of securing Senate control. Republican incumbents defied the odds, with a net loss of only one seat (having lost two and flipped one). Given the likely win of the Republican incumbents in the two outstanding Senate races (Alaska and North Carolina), we expect control of the Senate to be decided by a runoff election for Georgia’s two Senate seats in early January. The Democrats would need to flip both seats to tie control of the Senate 50-50, which would allow the Democratic White House to break ties in their favor.

Notable Results:

  • Cory Gardner (R-CO), who has been a visible figure in pro-science policy activities over the last several years, was defeated by former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D).
  • Martha McSally (R-AZ) has been unseated by astronaut Mark Kelly (D).
  • Gary Peters (D-MI), vocal supporter of science, narrowly won reelection in Michigan.
  • GOP incumbents Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) all squeaked out wins in highly competitive races.

With so many unknowns, close monitoring over the next several weeks will be critical to determining a path forward for social science advocacy. Stay tuned to COSSA for the latest developments.

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AAPSS Seminar Highlights Pandemic’s Impact on Working Families

The American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS), a COSSA member, held a virtual seminar on October 29 convening a panel of experts to discuss “Working Parents in COVID-19: The Impact and the Policy Response.” The panel was moderated by Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution, and featured presentations by Michal Grinstein-Wiess, Washington University in St. Louis; Molly Kinder, Brookings Institution; Claudia Goldin, Harvard University; and Nisha Patel, Washington University in St. Louis. Panelists discussed the unique impacts of the pandemic on economically vulnerable working families and potential policy solutions that could assist these families’ recovery. A recording of the webcast is available here and more information is available on the AAPSS website.

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NIH Releases Final Policy for Data Management and Sharing

On October 29, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released its final agency policy for data management and sharing (DMS) of scientific data generated from NIH-funded or conducted research. The NIH’s DMS policy takes stakeholder feedback into account to ensure that data from scientific research is accessible, sharable, and managed properly. More information about the policy is available on the NIH website.

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NIH Seeking Comments on Agency-Wide Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research

On October 28, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a request for information (RFI) to gather public input on the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research released in July (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). As the coronavirus pandemic persists, NIH acknowledges that the framework in the Strategic Plan should be updated periodically to meet the needs of the research community in addressing the pandemic. NIH is seeking comments related to the following topics:

  • Significant research gaps or barriers not currently identified in the Strategic Plan;
  • Resources required or lacking that could advance the priorities in the Strategic Plan, or ways to leverage existing resources;
  • Emerging scientific advances in COVID-19 treatment or vaccine research; and
  • Additional ideas for research initiatives that could advance the response to COVID-19.

Responses to the RFI will be accepted through December 7, 2020. More information is available on the NIH website.

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November Headlines to Feature Deep Dive on 2020 Election

headlines bannerCOSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly Headlines webchat on Thursday, November 12 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. The COSSA team will break down the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month, followed by a deep dive discussion on the 2020 election with Costas Panagopoulos, Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University and member of the American Political Science Association’s Election Assistance Task Force. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

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COSSA Executive Director Featured on “Momentum HSS” Podcast

Wendy Naus, COSSA Executive Director, was featured on a recent episode of the Momentum HSS podcast, which “features conversations with Humanities and Social Sciences scholars, associational leaders, funders, and others who comprise the vast network of Humanities and Social Sciences support.” Her conversation with host Darby Orcutt of North Carolina State University covered the relationship between social science and STEM, the unique challenges of advocating for the social sciences, and an overview of trends in federal support for social science research. All episodes of the Momentum HSS podcast can be found here.

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