Senate Releases Remaining Draft Appropriations Bills, Setting Stage for FY 2022 Negotiations

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee released drafts of nine of its annual appropriations bills. While fiscal year (FY) 2022 officially began on October 1, the Senate Appropriations Committee has so far this year only completed work on three of its FY 2022 bills; none of the Senate bills have yet been voted on by the full Senate. Last month, Congress enacted a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government open until December 3, providing additional time for both chambers to complete their work.

Over in the House, the Appropriations Committee advanced all twelve of its annual spending bills over the summer (see previous coverage), with nine of its bills successfully passing the chamber. This includes two bills important to the social and behavioral science community: the Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education Appropriations Bill and the Agriculture Appropriations Bill (see COSSA’s analysis).

As noted in previous coverage, the FY 2022 appropriations bills are in many ways a stark contrast to the spending measures we have seen over the last several years, for a few reasons. First, the spending caps that have placed limits on discretionary spending over the last decade expired in FY 2021 and new ones have not yet been set. Second, it is common to see major new investments in the first year of a new Presidential Administration, especially when the House and Senate are of the same party. While in many cases the House and Senate bills do not provide the President with the full amount of requested funds, federal science agencies would still see major budget increases nearly across the board in both proposals.

It is likely that caps on discretionary spending will return in some form in the near future, leaving many to believe FY 2022 is the best opportunity to achieve long-desired increases and major new investments, such as establishing a new agency—ARPA-H—possibly within the National Institutes of Health and standing up a new research directorate at the National Science Foundation focused on technology, innovation, and partnerships. 

As noted, Congress has given itself until December 3 to complete its work on the FY 2022 process. However, given the limited number of legislative days remaining and other issues competing for time—including but not limited to sweeping infrastructure legislation and a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package—the outlook for completing FY 2022 appropriations bills by early December seems ambitious. Before negotiations to reconcile the differences between the chambers’ spending bills can begin, Congressional leaders must first agree to top-line funding amounts for each bill. It is possible that an additional CR or series of short-term CRs could be needed to complete the FY 2022 process.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the Senate’s FY 2022 funding bills for federal agencies and programs important to the social and behavioral science research community.



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