Blog Archives

Congress is Home for Summer Break. Tell them #WhySocialScience

The House left for August recess over a week ago and the Senate followed suit last week, leaving crickets in DC for the next few weeks. As previously reported, progress on the fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations bill all but stalled out as Congress prepared to leave for its month-long summer break. The big question heading into the fall will be whether the GOP leadership in Congress and the Obama White House will be able to come to terms on an endgame for the annual funding bills before the government is forced to shut down for the second time in three years on October 1. Threatening progress is the emergence of concerns surrounding Planned Parenthood funding and the flying of the Confederate flag on federal land. Policy riders such as these could further paralyze the process in the waning days of the current fiscal year, leaving the fate of FY 2016 (which begins October 1) unknown at best.

Republican leaders in Congress have promised in recent days that they will not bend to pressure from some in their caucus to allow the government to shut down over the policy issues mentioned above. Specifically, conservatives in Congress are demanding that must-pass funding legislation, due October 1, include language defunding Planned Parenthood, which would all but guarantee a government shutdown.

The August recess is the perfect time for constituents to engage with their elected officials in their home districts about the issues important to your local community, whether by attending town hall meetings or scheduling your own appointments to speak one-on-one. COSSA has prepared a toolkit to assist social and behavioral scientists in outreach to Congress during these last few weeks of summer. Don’t let these macro political issues distract policy makers from issues important to our science. Tell them #WhySocialScience is important to your state and community!

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Issue 15 (August 11), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

FY 2016 Process Stalled as Congress Heads for Summer Break

Despite promises from Republican leaders in the House and Senate to pass fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations legislation through “regular order” this year, the FY 2016 process has stalled amid issues ranging from a policy rider pertaining to flying of the Confederate flag on federal grounds that killed the bills in the House and calls for the need to broker a larger budget deal. The House and Senate made some progress before the process sputtered out in recent weeks, with both chambers advancing all 12 of their bills through committee and the House managing to pass six of them; however, there were no FY 2016 bills brought to the Senate floor because of a united Democratic strategy to block the bills until a larger budget deal can be struck.

On the agenda upon Congress’s return in September will be to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep federal agencies operating beyond the start of the new fiscal year on October 1 and to avert a government shutdown. Rumors indicate that an initial CR could run until December. Also upon their return after Labor Day, Congress is expected to begin in earnest negotiations with the White House on a broader budget deal that will seek to provide some relief from sequestration, or the tight budget caps that are tamping down discretionary spending for defense and non-defense accounts, including research. Until these caps are addressed, and hopefully raised or eliminated, the FY 2016 appropriations bills remain in limbo with Senate Democrats expected to continue blocking the bills and President Obama noting his intent to veto any bill that keeps within the caps. All this makes for an expectedly busy fall for Congress.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill Advances through Committee

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2016 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill (S. 1800) on July 16, after the bill’s approval by the Agriculture Subcommittee earlier in the week. Among the agencies funded in the bill are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) principal statistical agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which houses the Department’s main competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The House Appropriations Committee passed its version of the bill on July 8 (more on the House bill is available here).

In general, the Senate bill would provide more funding to agencies of interest to the social and behavioral science community than the House bill. However, the Committee’s adherence to current spending caps means that the proposed funding levels still fall below the Administration’s request. The bill would maintain ERS’ FY 2015 funding level of $85.4 million, $7.3 million above the cut proposed by the House. NASS would be cut by $4.3 million compared to FY 2015, but the Senate mark is still $6.9 million more than the House bill. In the committee report, both agencies are encouraged to continue to collect and analyze data on organic agriculture.

Under the Senate bill, NIFA would receive a small increase over FY 2015, but the total falls well short of the Administration’s proposed funding level of $1.5 billion. AFRI would actually receive $10 million less under the Senate’s bill compared to the House version—the same amount as in FY 2015.

Neither bill is likely to reach the floor of either chamber anytime soon as the larger debate over sequestration and spending caps has stalled the FY 2016 process and likely will not be resolved until later in the fall at the earliest.

senate ag fy16

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Issue 14 (July 28), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

COSSA Releases Statement on House & Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Bills

On July 2, COSSA released a statement detailing its objections to the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services , Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) spending bills passed by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in June. Although both bills would provide significant increases to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as the statement notes

“Unfortunately, the much needed increases in NIH funding in both bills come at the expense of federal agencies whose work plays a vital and collaborative role in the U.S. scientific enterprise, particularly as it relates to our nation’s health. As such, COSSA cannot support either appropriations bill.

COSSA is particularly concerned by the proposal to eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the House bill, both bills’ inadequate funding of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Institute of Education Science (IES), and restrictions placed on research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

The statement is available in full here.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 13 (July 14), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

Congressionally-Mandated Strategic Plan, FY 2016 Budget Discussed by NIH Advisory Committee to the Director

The June 11-12 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) meeting included the discussion of a number of important issues for the agency, including its fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget and its efforts to develop a five-year strategic plan by December 2015. (more…)

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 13 (July 14), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

House and Senate Appropriations Committees Approve FY 2016 Labor-HHS Bills

The Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate advanced their respective fiscal year (FY) 2016 bills for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS). The House passed its version on June 24 (see COSSA’s preliminary analysis of the bill), and the Senate on June 25. Both bills would provide sizable increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with a larger increase coming from the Senate’s bill. The House bill proposes to completely eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) but maintains strong funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the Senate keeps AHRQ but would inflict significant cuts to both agencies.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of both bills and more details on the funding prospects for these and other agencies important to social and behavioral science.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Issue 12 (June 30), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

House Agriculture Appropriations Bill Would Cut USDA Research and Statistics

The House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee advanced its draft bill to the full committee on June 18. A full committee markup originally scheduled for June 25 was postponed. Among the agencies funded in the bill are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) research and statistical agencies, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Economic Research Service (ERS), and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The Committee Report is available here. COSSA has joined the Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis (FASA), a new coalition of stakeholders who care about timely, accurate, and objective food and agricultural statistics, on several letters to House staff to request stronger appropriations for ERS and NASS.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture would see a $5.2 million cut from FY 2015, $218.8 million below the President’s request. Hatch Act programs would be flat-funded. NIFA’s investigator-initiated grants program, the Agricultural Food and Research Initiative (AFRI), would receive a $10 million increase from FY 2015, still well below the Administration’s request of $450 million. Language in the Committee Report asks for additional clarity in next year’s budget request on how proposed funds for AFRI would be spent:

“For the fiscal year 2017 budget request, the Committee is particularly interested in the request for AFRI, and requests that the agency provide greater detail on the levels proposed to be allocated to and the expected publication date, scope, and allocation level for each request for awards to be published under each priority area specified in section 2(b)(2) of the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act (7 U.S.C. 450i(b)(2)).”

The USDA’s principal statistical agencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistical Service, do not fare as well under the House bill. The bill proposes an 8.6% cut for ERS, which would bring its funding down to $78.1 million. NASS would receive an $11.2 million cut from FY 2015, leaving it 10.6% below the level proposed in the President’s budget request. These cuts would likely force both agencies make cuts to their core products and services.

house-ag-fy16

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Issue 12 (June 30), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

Senate Committee Advances NSF, Census, Justice Spending Bill

On June 10, the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its version of the fiscal year (FY) 2016 CJS bill. The full Senate Appropriations Committee followed suit on June 11, advancing the bill to the Senate floor. The CJS bill provides annual funding to the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and the Census Bureau and other federal statistical agencies. Like the House bill passed on June 4, the Senate CJS bill keeps within discretionary spending caps, translating to very small (if any) increases for agencies and programs of interest to the COSSA community. In fact, under the Senate proposal, NSF would see a fractional reduction below FY 2015; NIJ and the Bureau of Justice Statistics would be flat-funded; and the Census Bureau would be funded at levels much lower than the amounts requested for FY 2016.

Read COSSA’s full analysis of the Senate CJS bill here.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Issue 11 (June 16), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

House Passes FY16 NSF, Census, Justice Spending Bill

After two days of debate and consideration of dozens of amendments, the House passed the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill this evening on June 4 by a vote of 242 to 183. Twelve Democrats voted in favor of the bill with 10 Republicans voting against.

As previously reported, this annual spending bill–which provides funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Justice (DOJ) research programs, and the Census Bureau and other federal statistical agencies–includes very troubling provisions impacting social and behavioral science research (see COSSA’s analysis for full details).

There were no amendments offered, positive or negative, to the NSF section of the bill, leaving the section unchanged from the version that was approved by the House Appropriations Committee on May 20.

However, several amendments passed impacting the budget of the Census Bureau, including:

  • $100 million from Periodic Censuses and Programs to increase funding for justice assistance grants (Rep. David Reichert, R-WA)
  • $17.3 million from Periodic Censuses and Programs for sex trafficking victims services in DOJ (Rep. Ted Poe, R-TX)
  • $4 million from Current Surveys and Programs to increase DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs (Rep. Richard Nugent, R-FL)

In addition, Rep. Poe continued his assault on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) by offering an amendment to make the ACS voluntary; the amendment passed by voice vote, but not before CJS Subcommittee Ranking Member Chaka Fattah (D-PA) keenly articulated the importance of a mandatory survey.

While no amendments were offered impacting NSF, several Members of Congress took to the House floor to object to problematic report language in the bill that would direct 70 percent of NSF research funding to engineering and physical, biological and computer science, thereby undercutting funding to the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) directorate (as well as the Geosciences directorate) (video can be viewed here). Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) (video at 05:17:06) called these cuts to SBE “misguided” and highlighted several examples of social science research that has led to major breakthroughs impacting the health and prosperity of the nation. In addition, Rep. David Price (D-NC) (video at 10:35:39) asked CJS Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) for a commitment to work together to fix this language and preserve NSF’s discretion to decide what grants to fund, to which Culberson expressed his intent to work with the Congressman. House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) (video at 04:46:20) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) (video at 05:13:13), Ranking Member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, also expressed their objection to the NSF language and cuts to Census.

Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) (video at 05:21:35) took to the floor to defend the NSF language, acknowledging that he worked directly with CJS Subcommittee staff to incorporate it into the committee report. He reiterated his concerns about NSF’s responsibility to be accountable to taxpayers and fund grants that are in the “national interest.”

The next step in the FY 2016 funding of these agencies is Senate consideration of its version of the CJS appropriations bill, which could occur as early as next week with a possible markup in the Senate CJS Subcommittee.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Issue 11 (June 16), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

House Advances Bills to Cut Social Science Funding

As we have been reporting over the last several weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives has been busy considering legislation to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, landmark legislation first enacted in 2007 to reignite U.S. investment in scientific research.  It serves as authorizing legislation for the National Science Foundation (NSF), among other agencies.  The House version of COMPETES reauthorization is a major departure from earlier versions, garnering deep opposition from the broader scientific community, including from COSSA. Among the many problematic provisions in the bill is language to cut NSF’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) directorate by half.  Despite widespread opposition, the House passed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806) on May 20 by a narrow margin (217-205).  The COMPETES bill now heads to the Senate, where we don’t expect to see any action until later in the summer or fall. (more…)

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Issue 10 (June 2), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

Subscribe

Click here to subscribe to the COSSA Washington Update, our biweekly newsletter.

Archive

Looking for something from a previous issue of the COSSA Washington Update? Try our archive.

Issues

Browse by Month