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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 deal.

As a reminder, the federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR) until December 11, leaving just four weeks to complete the bills—likely through a large omnibus package. There are reports that a second CR may be needed to extend the deadline by another week, providing lawmakers additional time to complete their work on the FY 2021 bills.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the Senate FY 2021 funding bills for federal agencies and programs important to the social and behavioral science research community. And take a moment to contact your lawmakers and urge their support for social science funding in the final FY 2021 appropriations bill.

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Posted in Issue 23 (November 24), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Senate Kicks Off Lame Duck Session by Releasing FY 2021 Spending Bills

The Senate Appropriations Committee released all 12 of its annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2021, which would fund the government for the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2020. The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires on December 11 (see COSSA’s previous coverage). The House released all of its annual appropriations bills in July and passed 10 of them (see COSSA’s analysis). The Senate Appropriations Committee is not planning to consider the bills; rather, they will be used as a starting point for negotiations with House appropriators as both chambers attempt to reach an agreement to fund the government ahead of the December 11 deadline.

COSSA members can expect to receive COSSA’s full analysis of the Senate’s funding proposals for social science agencies in their inboxes later this week. You can ensure you are receiving COSSA’s members-only emails by filling out this form.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 10), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Supreme Court Ends Census Count Early; Congress Could Still Act to Protect Accuracy

On October 13, the Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing the Department of Commerce to end its 2020 Census field operations early (see COSSA’s previous coverage for the complete back-and-forth on the end date). However, while the enumeration efforts have ended, the Census Bureau now moves to critical data processing and quality-checking work to ensure that the final counts submitted for redistricting and reapportionment purposes are accurate. The timeline for this essential work is significantly compressed compared to both the Bureau’s original 2020 Census operating plan and the Administration’s COVID-19-adjusted plan. Congress can act to move statutory deadlines and instruct the Bureau to take adequate time to complete these activities. However, with Congress off on the campaign trail, we would not expect to see action on this until the lame duck session after the election. You can stay tuned to COSSA’s coverage of the 2020 Census here.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 27), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

FY 2021 Begins Under a CR; COVID Relief Negotiations Up in the Air

Federal fiscal year (FY) 2021 officially began on October 1. As previously reported, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) last month keeping the government operating past the November elections until December 11; the President has since signed the CR into law. What this means for FY 2021 science funding is unknown. The lame-duck Congress will return after the election and may attempt to finalize FY 2021 spending, or pass another CR kicking the responsibility to the next Congress that will be seated in January. The fate of funding largely lies in the outcome of the Congressional and Presidential elections and which party will hold the majority in Congress and the White House come January. You can follow COSSA’s coverage of FY 2021 science funding, including actions taken to date, on our website.

In other news, negotiations on the next round of COVID-19 relief have all but fallen apart, with the President calling on his surrogates to end negotiations with Congress until after the elections, and then reversing course and urging passage of a large relief package. Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over the amount of supplemental funding needed, signaling that a deal before the November elections is unlikely. You can follow COSSA’s COVID-19 coverage on our website.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 13), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Research Needs for Coping with Compound Crises

On September 30, the Environment Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on “Coping with Compound Crises: Extreme Weather, Social Injustice, and a Global Pandemic.” The hearing featured the testimony of Dr. Roxane Cohen Silver, Professor of Psychological Science, Medicine, and Public Health, University of California, Irvine; and Dr. Samantha Montano, Assistant Professor of Emergency Management, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, each who spoke about the need for rapid federal research funding to support social research in the immediate aftermath of disasters and other crises. Members of the committee from both sides of the aisle, including Environment Subcommittee Chair Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), full Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), full Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), reiterated the importance of the social and behavioral sciences in helping us to better understand how to more effectively recover from disasters and prevent them from taking a toll on human lives and property in the future. A recording of the hearing and testimony from the witnesses is available on the Science Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 13), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

House Elections Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Combatting Misinformation in the 2020 Election

On October 6, the Subcommittee on Elections of the Committee on House Administration (CHA) held a public hearing on voting rights and combatting misinformation during the upcoming 2020 election. The Committee heard testimony from Member of the Board of Elections of Cuyahoga County in Ohio Inajo Davis Chappel, Secretary of State of Colorado Jena Griswold, Commissioner of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Benjamin Hovland, and President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Spencer Overton. No Republican members of the Subcommittee attended the hearing.

Witnesses and participating Members of Congress discussed various dangers of misinformation and its effect on U.S. elections, including the role of social media in spreading misinformation, available resources for governments to combat misinformation, viable methods to educate voters about misinformation, and current misinformation surrounding voting such as the validity of mail-in ballots. A full recording of the hearing is available on the Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 13), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Congress Likely Averts Government Shutdown, CR through December 11

On September 22, the House of Representatives struck a deal to keep the government operating into the new fiscal year that begins on October 1. The Senate is expected to pass the measure this week, sending it to the President before fiscal year (FY) 2020 ends on September 30. None of the twelve appropriations bills for FY 2021 have been enacted to date, although as previously reported, the House passed its versions back in July (see COSSA’s coverage).

Congressional leaders are also attempting a last-ditch effort this week to find compromise on a COVID-19 relief package. House Democrats released a slimmed-down version of its Heroes Act to restart discussions; however, there remains little hope that agreement will be made before lawmakers leave for the campaign trail in the coming days.

Finally, 54 Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy last week urging $3 billion in emergency relief for the National Science Foundation in the next COVID-19 package. The revised Heroes Act noted earlier does not currently include this funding.

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Posted in Issue 19 (September 29), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

COSSA Endorses Bipartisan Bill to Extend Census Deadline

COSSA joined over 200 organizations in endorsing a new bipartisan bill that would extend the statutory deadlines for the 2020 Census and require the Census Bureau to continue its enumeration operation through October 31. As previously reported, the Department of Commerce announced plans to end counting activities for the 2020 Census a month ahead of its originally planned schedule, leading to concern that the resulting data will be inaccurate. The 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, introduced by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) would require the 2020 Census to stick to its originally planned schedule and gives the Bureau additional time to deliver apportionment and redistricting data. Follow COSSA’s coverage of the 2020 Census here.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 15), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on the Impact of COVID-19 on University Research

On September 10, the House Science Committee’s Research and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on the Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on University Research. Witnesses included the Vice Presidents for Research from the University of Illinois System, Oakland University in Michigan, and Purdue University, as well as a Carnegie Mellon graduate student in physics. Witnesses and participating Members of Congress praised the Science Committee’s bipartisan proposals to support the university research system through the disruptions caused by COVID-19, including the RISE Act (H.R. 7308) (see previous coverage), which we have discussed before, authorizes $26 billion in emergency relief funding for science agencies to support full-cost extensions of research grant. A newer bipartisan bill was also discussed, the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act (H.R. 8044), which would create a new $250 million fellowship program at the National Science Foundation that would allow high-performing grad students to take their funding with them if they are forced to change schools.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 15), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Fate of FY 2021 Funding and Coronavirus Relief in Limbo as Congress Returns

Lawmakers return from summer recess next week, leaving only 16 working days to act on funding legislation before fiscal year (FY) 2021 begins on October 1. As previously reported, the House passed its version of the FY 2021 appropriations bills in July, while the Senate has yet to release details of its bills. It is a near certainty that FY 2021 will begin under a continuing resolution (CR). Since it is an election year—one with major potential funding consequences—history suggests that a shorter CR will be enacted to keep the government running through the November elections. The next steps after that will depend heavily on the outcome of the election and which party will be controlling the House, Senate and White House beginning in January. Should there be a change in administration and/or party majority in one or both chambers of Congress, it is common for appropriations bills to be tabled until the new year to allow the new party in power to control the process.

What’s more likely to dominate attention in Congress over the next few weeks is the latest attempt to enact emergency funding to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Congressional leaders and White House negotiators made little-to-no progress over the summer, despite promises to broker a deal. As we head into the seventh month of the pandemic with the November election nearing, both parties are feeling the pressure to provide additional relief. Stay tuned to COSSA’s coverage over the coming weeks for the latest details on FY 2021 spending and COVID-19 relief and their impacts on social and behavioral science research.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 1), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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