Congressional News

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…

House Science Committee Releases Federal Scientific Workforce Report

Last month, the majority staff of the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology released the report Scientific Brain Drain: Quantifying the Decline of the Federal Scientific Workforce, an analysis of federal employment levels of seven federal science agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology (DHS S&T), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). The analysis looked across the past decade to understand how the federal government is investing in its increasing…

Science Committee Releases NSF Reauthorization Proposal

On March 26, the House Science Committee on Science, Space, and Technology released the text of the National Science Foundation for the Future Act, its proposed reauthorization legislation for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The bipartisan bill was introduced by Science Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), along with Reps. Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Michael Waltz (R-FL), the Chair and Ranking Member respectively of the Subcommittee on Research and Technology. Although Rep. Lucas had previously introduced a competing bill, the Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act, in the press release accompanying the…

Census Bureau Faces Questions on Release of 2020 Data

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held an oversight hearing on March 23 to review activities related to the 2020 Census and the Census Bureau. The hearing featured the testimony of Ron Jarmin, Acting Director of the Census Bureau; J. Christopher Mihm, Managing Director for Strategic Issues at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and Nick Marinos, Director of Information Technology & Cybersecurity at GAO. Panelists answered questions on the outcome of the 2020 Census operation, including its use of new technologies, efforts to reach diverse communities, and the status of the Post-Enumeration Survey. In addition, several Republican…

Senate Health Committee Holds Hearing on COVID-19 Response and Addressing Health Disparities

On March 25, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on health equity and health disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee members heard testimony from Vice President for Health Equity at Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dr. Consuelo H. Wilkins, Executive Vice President of the Seattle Indian Health Board Abigail Echo-Hawk, Managing Director of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress Taryn Mackenzie Williams, and President and CEO of Atrium Health Gene A. Woods. Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC), and Committee members all expressed…

House Science Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Rebuilding the Federal Scientific Workforce

On March 17, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing to address strategies to rebuild the federal scientific workforce especially related to recruiting and retaining scientific talent. The Subcommittee heard testimony from Acting Director for Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics at the U.S. Government Accountability Office Candice Wright; President and CEO at the Partnership for Public Service Max Stier; Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists Dr. Andrew Rosenberg; and Former Director of Science and Technology at the Office of Water at the Environmental Protection Agency…

Biden Signs American Rescue Plan, with Funding for NSF, IES, Universities

On March 11, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319). As previously reported, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill includes $600 million in funding to support research related to the pandemic at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and $100 million to support research related to K-12 learning loss at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The bill also includes $39.9 billion in funding to support colleges and universities. Now that this major piece of legislation has been enacted, lawmakers’ attention will turn to appropriations for the coming fiscal year. In addition, discussions will…

Earmarks Return to House Under New Name

Last month, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) announced the intent of the committee to accept requests for “Community Project Funding” in the fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations bills. Although the announcement essentially reverses the decade-long House ban on earmarks set by the Republican majority in 2011, Chairwoman DeLauro’s plan includes new rules to govern the process. Among the reforms include posting every request online for public viewing, limiting the number of requests allowed per member to 10, and a cap on the total amount of funding to be used for projects at no more than one percent of…

House Passes Funding for NSF, Higher Ed, and IES in $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill

The House of Representatives passed a massive relief bill on February 27 that aims to bring financial support to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319, committee report) includes direct payments to individuals, expansion of unemployment assistance, and an increase to the national minimum wage, among many other provisions. It also includes several notable provisions of interest to the science community, including $39.9 billion in funding for colleges and universities, with half to be used for student aid, as laid out in the CARES Act (see COSSA’s previous coverage). The bill also…

House Science Committee Organizes

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has announced its membership roster for the 117th Congress (see the majority and minority press releases). As previously reported, the Chair and Ranking Member will again be Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK). Members new to the Science Committee this Congress include Carlos GimĂ©nez (R-FL), Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Young Kim (R-CA), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Peter Meijer (R-MI), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Deborah K. Ross (D-NC), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Daniel Webster (R-FL), and Susan Wild (D-PA). Democratic subcommittee…

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