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NIH Announces New Next Generation Researchers Policy

On August 31, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new policy aimed at increasing the number of early career investigators competing successfully for NIH grants. The Policy Supporting the Next Generation Researchers Initiative implements Section 2021 of the 21st Century Cures Act, enacted in late 2016, which calls for the agency to prioritize investment in the next generation of biomedical researchers.

The Next Generation Researchers Policy sets two new definitions of early career investigators: Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) and Early Established Investigators (EEIs). Early Stage Investigators are defined as a “program director/principal investigator who has completed their terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years and who has not previously competed successfully… for a substantial NIH independent research award.” An Early Established Investigator is a “program director/principal investigator who is within 10 years of receiving their first substantial, independent competing NIH R01-equivelent research award as an ESI.” Funding will be prioritized for an EEI if “(1) The EEI lost or is at risk for losing all NIH research support if not funded by competing awards this year, or (2) The EEI is supported by only one active award.”

The new policy will take effect this year (fiscal year 2017), with a goal of funding approximately 200 more ESI and EEI researchers (each) than were supported in FY 2016. Individual institute and center (IC) directors are tasked with determining how best to re-prioritize funding to enable these investments this year. A working group of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), which advises the NIH Director, has been established to monitor the implementation of the new policy.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Congress Reaches Agreement on FY 2017 Funding

On May 1, Congress announced that a bipartisan deal had been brokered to fund the federal government through the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2017. The omnibus appropriations bill includes 11 individual appropriations bills and keeps the government operating through September 30, 2017.

Should the bill pass this week, the final, much-delayed result for FY 2017 will be mostly positive for social and behavioral science research. Compared to where we have been in recent years and with all of the unknowns surrounding the Trump Administration’s position on science funding, this outcome is about the best we could have hoped for.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill.

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Posted in Issue 9 (May 2), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

286 Societies Sign Letter in Support of R&D Enterprise

On April 6, COSSA joined 285 other U.S. societies and associations in business, science, engineering, health, and higher education on a letter urging Congressional leaders to complete the fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations bills with “robust investments in scientific research.” The letter states the benefits of continued investment in the U.S. research and development enterprise, describes possible impacts of decreased funding, and urges policy makers to reject the cuts to science agencies proposed by the Trump Administration.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 18), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

COSSA Calls for Congress to Complete FY 2017 Appropriations Process

In a letter to House and Senate appropriators on the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Subcommittees, COSSA called for speedy completion of the FY 2017 appropriations process. The letter also urges strong appropriations for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and Census Bureau. The letter is available on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Joins Scientific Community in Urging Approval of NIH FY 2017 Budget

On February 7, COSSA joined 260 patient, medical, scientific, academic, and research organizations of the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research in sending a joint letter and fact sheet to the President and the House and Senate leadership. The letter urges the enactment of a final FY 2017 spending package that includes $34.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Federal agencies and programs are currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires on April 28.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 21), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Congress Passes Stopgap Funding Bill, Adjourns

Congress passed another continuing resolution (CR) late in the evening on December 9, just a few hours before government funding would have run out. This stop-gap funding measure will keep the government funded until April 28, 2017. The bill, passed with the support of the incoming Trump Administration, will leave the fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations process unfinished and delay major spending decisions to the next Congress and next Administration. The text of the Continuing Resolution is available here. For full details of the FY 2017 spending debate as it pertains to social science research, check out COSSA’s coverage.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Congress Returns for Lame Duck Session, Begins Organizing

Congress returns to Washington this week for the first time since last week’s historic elections. Lawmakers are returning to a new reality that many did not see coming, with the election of Donald Trump as the next President and the Republicans maintaining a stronghold in both chambers of Congress.

Following the elections, Republicans maintain a narrowed majority in the House and Senate. The Senate margins sit at 51 Republicans to 48 Democrats, with a run-off race in Louisiana scheduled for December. In addition, and as expected, Republicans held onto control of the House, with 239 Republicans to 193 Democrats, though Democrats narrowed the margin by picking up 5 seats so far, with some still too close to call. Notable losses include Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who lost his seat to Democrat Tammy Duckworth; Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; and House appropriators Mike Honda (D-CA) and David Jolly (R-FL).

Three newly elected members of the House will be sworn in this week, rather than in January with the rest of their freshman class, because their seats have previously been vacated. This includes Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), who will fill the late Mark Takai’s seat, James Comer (R-KY), who will fill fellow Republican Ed Whitfield’s seat following his resignation in September, and Dwight Evans (D-PA), who will fill Chaka Fattah’s (D-PA) seat following his June resignation.

It will be some time before committee assignments for the 115th Congress will be made. Below is an early look at the committees of interest to the COSSA community and number of seats currently vacated following the elections.

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At the top of the agenda for the next few weeks is what to do about the FY 2017 spending bills, which remain undone. The current continuing resolution (CR) expires on December 9. Unsurprisingly, lawmakers are split on the endgame strategy. Some Republicans are pushing to complete the appropriations bills before the end of the calendar year, thereby allowing the next Congress to start fresh, while others would like to punt them to 2017 so as to dodge any final negotiations with President Obama. Either way, Congress must take some form of action by December 9 to avoid a government shutdown.

Another task for the lame duck session is getting organized for next year. House and Senate Republicans and Democrats are holding leadership elections this week. While we expect Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to keep the Speaker’s gavel and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to remain as Minority Leader in the House, and Mitch McConnell to stay on as Majority Leader in the Senate, there could be some surprises as lawmakers battle for other positions.

Stay tuned to COSSA’s coverage of the 2016 elections for the latest developments and analysis of what this all means for the social science research community.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 15), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

COSSA Letter to Conferees Advocates Funding for NSF, NIJ, BJS, and Census

As Congress returns to complete the business of funding the government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2017, COSSA is advocating for strong funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and Census Bureau. In a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS), COSSA highlights the important work of these agencies and asks that conferees support the “highest possible funding levels.” The full letter is available on the COSSA website. COSSA has weighed-in in support of other federal agency budgets through our many coalition efforts.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 15), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Lawmakers and Advocates Urge Congress to Complete its Work on Behalf of NIH

On November 2, the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, including COSSA, a member of its Steering Committee, sent a letter to House and Senate leadership thanking lawmakers for their “efforts to ensure that a robust, sustained investment in medical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a high priority.” A coalition of more than 200 patient and voluntary health groups, medical and scientific societies, academic and research organizations, and industry committed to enhancing the federal investment in biomedical, behavioral, social, and population-based research supported by NIH, the coalition urged Congress to provide at least $34.1 billion for the agency in the final FY 2017 appropriations legislation and “to pass medical innovation legislation that that includes a multi-year Innovation Fund” providing targeted investments for specific multi-year NIH initiatives. The letter further underscored the urgency of completing these tasks by the end of 2016 to avoid “harmful delays” and to allow for the “maximum efficiency in research planning.”

Subsequently, on November 10, Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), David McKinley (R-WV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Peter King (R-NY) coordinated a letter signed by 164 House Members to the House Appropriations Committee urging an appropriation for the NIH of “no less than $34 billion in any forthcoming appropriations legislation.” The letter further states, “If we are serious about breaking new ground in our understanding of complex and life-threatening conditions, then it is absolutely essential we increase funding for NIH.”

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 15), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

COSSA and Coalitions Urge Strong Funding for SBS in Final FY 2017 Funding Negotiations

In preparation for Congress’ return to Washington after the election, several of the coalitions COSSA works through have sent letters to appropriators urging them to pass funding bills rather than a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2017 and to encourage them to preserve funding for the agencies that support social and behavioral science (SBS), including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Senate letter, House letter), the National Center for Health Statistics (Senate letter, House letter), the Census Bureau (Senate letter, House letter), and the Institute of Education Sciences.

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Posted in Issue 21 (November 1), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

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