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Senate Releases Appropriations Bills Ahead of Omnibus Negotiations

On November 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of all 12 fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills; this is for the fiscal year that officially began last month on October 1. As previously reported, the House of Representatives passed 10 of its bills in July. The release of the Senate bills signals that lawmakers plan to negotiate final FY 2021 spending during this post-election lame duck session. Senators are not expected to take up the bills on the Senate floor; rather, their bills are meant as a jumping off point for negotiations with the House on a final…

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…

ASA Webinar Corrects the Record on “Race and Sex Stereotyping” Executive Actions

The American Sociological Association (ASA), a COSSA governing member, held a webinar on October 20 to respond to recent White House actions prohibiting trainings and other activities that touch on white privilege, structural inequality, and other supposedly “divisive” concepts (see previous coverage). The webinar “Sociology Speaks: Experts Explain the Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping” featured three sociologists, Karyn Lacy of the University of Michigan, Bandana Purkayastha of the University of Connecticut, and Shelley Correll of Stanford University, who corrected the misrepresentations of these concepts in the orders and memoranda and explained how they have contributed to a…

Get Out the Vote with “Vote Science Strong”

Research!America, a DC-based advocacy organization working in support of health and medical research, has partnered with several scientific organizations on a website aimed at equipping the scientific community with resources to help make informed decisions at the polls this November. Vote Science Strong seeks to make scientific research—across all domains—part of the conversation in this year’s elections. It includes several different tools to help scientists engage with candidates, such as through town hall meetings and social media, and includes factsheets on the benefits of research to various aspects of life. Help amplify science in this year’s elections by visiting Vote…

Administration Expands Ban on “Promotion” of Structural Racism/Sexism to Contractors, Grantees

As part of the Administration’s ongoing effort to crack down on perceived “political correctness” in government, President Trump issued an executive order on September 22 to “combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.” This order expands on a recent memorandum from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that required federal agencies to cease funding for training that addresses critical race theory and white privilege (see previous coverage). The executive order applies this prohibition to federal contractors and grant recipients. In addition, it expands the original OMB memo beyond employee training to require that federal…

Remembering James Jackson (1944-2020)

Dr. James S. Jackson, renown social psychologist and Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, passed away on September 1. A pioneer in national and international surveys of Black populations, Dr. Jackson dedicated his career to understanding racial and ethnic influences on life course among African Americans across the lifespan. He was a recognized leader and advocate for the social and behavioral sciences, evidenced by his appointments to national leadership positions and committees, including several advisory councils of the National Institutes of Health, the Board of the Division of Behavioral and Social…

National Academies Study on COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Releases Discussion Draft, Seeks Feedback (Short Turnaround)

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has released a discussion draft of a Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, part of a fast-track study initiated over the summer (see previous coverage). The discussion draft, released September 1, aims to identify priorities to inform allocation of a limited initial supply of COVID-19 vaccine, taking into account factors such as racial/ethnic inequities and groups at higher risk due to health status, occupation, or living conditions. Feedback will be collected during a public listening session on September 2 as well as through a written comment period closing on…

Congress Struggling to Reach Agreement on COVID-19 Relief, Potentially Delaying August Recess

Congressional leaders continue to negotiate with the White House on what many suspect could be the final COVID-19 relief bill, and the House, Senate and Trump Administration remain far apart on their preferred approaches. While the House passed a relief bill—the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act—in May, the Senate has only recently introduced its counterpart proposal, the Healthcare, Economic Assistance, Liability, And Schools (HEALS) Act. Though the Senate is scheduled to begin its August recess on Friday August 7, policymakers are reportedly pessimistic about reaching a deal before then. Senate leaders are expected to delay the…

House Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2021 Funding Bills

During the week of July 13, the House Appropriations Committee completed its marathon markups of its 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2021, making way for consideration by the full House of Representatives; the relevant subcommittees advanced their respective measures the week prior. Despite the semblance of “regular order,” the outlook for final FY 2021 spending bills is still very much up in the air as lawmakers continue to grapple with pandemic relief negotiations and as the November elections approach. In addition, the House bills—which were written by the Democrats—include several funding and policy provisions that will be…

Federal Research Agencies Release Guidance on OMB’s Administrative Flexibility Changes

In response to a June 18 memo (M 20-26) issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) extending certain administrative flexibilities to federal grant recipients as relief for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, federal research agencies have released guidance statements clarifying the memo’s implications for recipients of research grants. On June 25, both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) released nearly identical sets of guidance in response to the OMB memo explaining how the changes to the flexibilities will specifically affect recipients of their grants. The flexibilities include an allowance to continue…

White House Issues Ban on Entry of Skilled Foreign Workers

On June 22, President Trump issued a proclamation further extending restrictions on foreign travel to the United States in order to reduce the competitiveness of the U.S. labor market. The proclamation argues that due to the economic downturn and resulting unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic, foreign workers “pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.” The proclamation prohibits the entry of foreign workers under several visa categories commonly used by science and academic institutions to hire employees with unique skills and specialized training, including H-1B and H-4 visas, for skilled workers and their spouses respectively; J-1 visas,…

Message from COSSA on Police Violence and Racial Injustice

We stand in solidarity with those protesting against the abuses of police power and the racist systems that perpetuate this violence. One of the fundamental lessons from the social sciences is that our lives are governed by social systems that were designed to bestow advantages and disadvantages unequally. While the social sciences have helped to illuminate those structures and the inequities and harms they create, the science community has failed to effectively address them within the scientific enterprise itself. While we cannot undo the horrific injustices of the past, we are committed to eradicating the scourge of white supremacy—both within…

Recordings of COVID-19-Related COSSA Headlines Webinars Now Available

In recognition of the severity of the current coronavirus crisis, COSSA has elected to make recordings of its members-only Headlines webinars related to the pandemic available immediately, rather than waiting an additional month to release the recordings to non-members. Check out the Headlines page on the COSSA website for links to previous recordings, including our most recent deep dive discussion with University of Florida epidemiologist Natalie Dean, who called for social scientists to weigh in on critical questions such as how best to facilitate contact tracing and providing insight into factors that could affect the public’s reaction to a potential…

Census Releases First COVID-19 Household Data

The Census Bureau has released the first data from its new COVID-19 Household Pulse Survey, which asks over 50,000 Americans about their employment status, spending patterns, food security, housing, physical and mental health, access to health care, and educational disruption during the coronavirus pandemic (see previous coverage). The data, which covers April 23-May 5, was released as tables and through an interactive dashboard. More information about the survey is available on the Census Bureau website. Data will continue to be released on a weekly basis throughout the survey’s 90-day duration. In addition, the Census Bureau has released data on the…

National Academies Holds Webinar on COVID-19 and Extreme Environmental Events

The National Academies Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Environmental Change and Society and Resilient America Roundtable convened a webinar on May 13 to discuss the social science aspects of potential emergencies that compound the current COVID-19 crisis with environmental hazards, such as fires, hurricanes, flooding, and heatwaves. The event featured experts from federal government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as universities, and nonprofit and community organizations. Panelists discussed the challenges of responding to emergencies and natural disasters amidst a pandemic and the need for social…

New Proposal Would Rename NSF, Create New Technology Directorate

On May 21, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Endless Frontier Act (S. 3832). A counterpart bill (H.R. 6978) was also introduced in the House by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI). The legislation proposes the establishment of a new Technology Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which would be renamed the National Science and Technology Foundation (NSTF). While housed within NSF/NSTF, a basic science agency, the overarching goal of the legislation is to infuse funding—$100 billion over five years—specifically for research and development in 10 technology areas of global strategic significance. The 10…

COSSA Advocates Tell Congress to Use Social Science to Fight COVID-19

On April 28, about 40 social and behavioral scientists and stakeholders participated in COSSA’s sixth annual Social Science Advocacy Day, meeting virtually with Members of Congress and their staff about the many ways social and behavioral science is helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Advocates representing 16 states participated, holding 58 individual meeting with Congressional offices. Materials used to help explain the unique contributions the social and behavioral sciences make to fighting COVID-19 and to address other pressing national issues are available on COSSA’s Advocacy Resources page. You can help amplify this message by responding to COSSA’s Action Alert on social science and…

Congress Remains Focused on COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, Congress continues to prioritize attention to combatting the disease and addressing the resulting economic repercussions. As lawmakers argue about the contents of another supplemental appropriations bill, a pair of Dear Colleague Letters (DCL) have been circulated in the House and Senate in support of $26 billion for federal research agencies in the next COVID-19 package. The House letter, sponsored by Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI), garnered 178 signatories and the Senate letter, sponsored by Ed Markey (D-MA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), had 33 signatories. The timeline for future supplemental bills is still unclear….

NSF, National Academies Launch Network to Connect Social Scientists to COVID-19 Policymakers

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have formed the Societal Experts Action Network (SEAN) to connect social and behavioral science researchers with decision-makers who are leading the response to COVID-19. SEAN will respond to the most pressing social, behavioral, and economic questions that are being asked by federal, state, and local officials by working with appropriate experts to quickly provide actionable answers. The network will be overseen by NASEM’s Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats and an executive committee co-chaired by Robert Groves of Georgetown University…

Golden Goose Award Seeks Nominations Related to COVID-19 Research

The Golden Goose Award, which typically recognizes federally funded research that may initially sound odd, obscure, or serendipitous, but ends up having a major impact on society, is planning to use its 2020 Awards to highlight federally funded research that has had a significant and demonstrable impact in responding to COVID-19. More information on nomination criteria is available on the Golden Goose website. The deadline for nominations is May 22, 2020. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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