Blog Archives

Policing Research Bill Introduced as Congress Continues Focus on Police Reform

In the wake of mass protests against police violence throughout the country, Congress has been active in introducing several bills addressing systemic racism and police violence, including a bill for more social and behavioral science research on these issues. On June 18, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (SST), introduced the Promoting Fair and Effective Policing Through Research Act, a bill that mandates that the National Science Foundation (NSF) fund social and behavioral science research on policing practices and the mitigation of police violence. It also directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish a program to study potential bias in policing tools and technology, and directs the Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) at the Department of Homeland Security to establish a program to support the reduction of police violence. More information can be found on the SST website.

In the meantime, Congress remains fixated on broader policing reform legislation. In the Senate, Tim Scott (R-SC) has introduced the JUSTICE Act (S. 3985), a bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated will be considered by the full Senate. The bill requires police departments to implement de-escalation training and report the use of force and prevents police from using chokeholds in most situations. In the House, Democrats have coalesced around the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120) introduced by Karen Bass (D-CA) and endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus. The bill mandates much more substantial reforms to policing, including labelling chokeholds as a potential civil rights violation, denying grants to some police jurisdictions, and making it easier to sue individual police for civil rights violations. COSSA will be monitoring these bills and providing updates when available.

Back to this issue’s table of contents

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 13 (June 23), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Congress Looking to Move FY 2021 Funding Bills in Coming Weeks

While Congressional leaders continue to negotiate their next response to the COVID-19 pandemic and, now, renewed calls for policing reforms in the wake of the killings of unarmed Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement, lawmakers are also looking to make progress on the fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills. According to House leadership, the House of Representatives will work to pass its FY 2021 bills ahead of the month-long August recess. This leaves the House with less than two months to write, mark-up and bring to the floor all twelve annual spending bills. The Senate has not yet released plans for moving ahead on FY 2021 appropriations, though leaders have expressed hopes to begin in late June.

Advocates, including COSSA, are busy making their final pitches to Congress for next year’s funding. A major unknown this year is the impact that recently enacted supplemental funding to address the COVID-19 outbreak will have on regular appropriations. COSSA will report on the details of the annual spending bills for federal science agencies over the next several weeks. You can follow our coverage at: https://www.cossa.org/policy.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Issue 12 (June 9), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Bipartisan Bill Would Mandate DOD Fund Social Science Research

On June 5, Reps. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and David McKinley (R-WV) introduced the Social Sciences Protect Our Nation Act (H.R. 7106), a bill that would require the Department of Defense (DOD) to maintain a basic social sciences research program. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities, joined as an original co-sponsor of the legislation. The bill was introduced in response to DOD’s plans to cut Defense-wide funding for social and behavioral science research, including the Minerva Research Initiative, a university-based social science research program, in the coming fiscal year. According to the legislation, “Maintaining a basic social sciences research program provides the Department of Defense critical access to expertise to inform cultural understanding, support technological edge, counter adversarial social interventions, and understand drivers to strengthen alliances and attract new partners.”

COSSA released a statement on the legislation that was included in a press release from Rep. Lipinski’s office:

“The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) applauds Representatives Daniel Lipinski and David McKinley for introducing the Social Sciences Protect Our Nation Act, which recognizes the essential role basic social and behavioral science research plays in supporting national defense and the need for such research to have a home within the Defense Department, where it can be put to immediate use. Social science research has enhanced America’s national security by improving our understanding of complex dynamics such as terrorism and radicalization, gang behavior, political instability, and demographic shifts in nations around the world. The Social Sciences Protect Our Nation Act will ensure that this research continues to thrive within our national security enterprise.”

Upon its introduction, the legislation was referred to the House Armed Services Committee, although a timeline for consideration is unclear.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 12 (June 9), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Lawmakers Break for Memorial Day Recess with Packed June Agenda in the Wings

When the Senate returns next week, lawmakers will look to move the fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defenses Authorization Act (NDAA), which, like annual appropriations bills, is seen as “must pass” legislation as its sets annual spending levels for the Department of Defense. The NDAA is an especially important piece of legislation to watch this year given that, as one of few annual “must pass” bills, it is viewed as a potential vehicle for other, sometimes unrelated policy proposals (see the article on the Endless Frontiers Act).

Work also continues on the FY 2021 appropriations bills. Despite the pandemic, lawmakers are hoping to introduce and possibly pass some of the bills out of Committee in June. However, with the next COVID-19 emergency package still in the mix, final enactment of FY 2021 appropriations bills appears a ways off. Still, COSSA and other advocates continue to press on Congress to provide the highest possible funding levels for federal science agencies (see related article on FY 2021 testimony). You can follow COSSA’s coverage off FY 2021 funding here.

Also expected in the coming weeks is Senate consideration of Sethuraman Panchanathan to be the next Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Panchanathan, who was nominated by President Trump in December 2019, will be among several nominations before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on June 3.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 11 (May 26), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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 areas include: (1) artificial intelligence and machine learning (2) high performance computing, semiconductors, and advanced computer hardware (3) quantum computing and information systems (4) robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing (5) natural or anthropogenic disaster prevention (6) advanced communications technology (7) biotechnology, genomics, and synthetic biology (8) cybersecurity, data storage and data management technologies (9) advanced energy (10) materials science, engineering, and exploration relevant to other key technology areas. The 10 areas would be revisited every 4 years.

Such a focus on technology transfer would be a major departure for NSF, which since its founding has focused on supporting fundamental research across all scientific disciplines and fields. The bill’s sponsors contend that the agencies’ other activities would be left untouched by the legislation. Still, considering the bill’s authorization level for these new technology activities is nearly triple the NSF’s current budget, one could surmise that the proposal would mark a major shift in priority for the 70-year-old agency.

While, as noted earlier, this and other legislation could be attached to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the bill would first need to work its way through the Senate oversight committees as well as those in the House, which has been working to develop its own, yet-to-be-introduced NSF reauthorization legislation.  COSSA will continue to report on this and other NSF authorizing bills in the months ahead.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 11 (May 26), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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.

On May 6, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) held a hearing addressing the ongoing COVID-19 response. The Subcommittee heard testimony from President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives and former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tom Frieden, and Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Caitlin Rivers. Members of the Subcommittee and the witnesses discussed a variety of issues related to the pandemic, including the best methods for reopening parts of the economy, the role of contact tracing in identifying at-risk individuals, best public health practices for rural communities, and the production timeline of a vaccine and other medical supplies. A major topic of discussion was the possibility of the Appropriations Committee to initiate a Health Defense Operations (HDO) account intended to address immediate public health crises such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. This account would be structured similarly to the often-controversial Department of Defense’s Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account and would allow much greater flexibility in funding public health initiatives without being affected by budget caps or competing with other discretionary accounts. A recording of the hearing and the witnesses’ testimonies are available on the Committee website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 10 (May 12), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

COSSA Submits Senate Testimony in Support of Social Science at NSF, Census, NIJ and BJS

Each year, COSSA submits outside witness testimony to the Congressional Appropriations subcommittees responsible for funding federal agencies important to the social sciences. Earlier this month, COSSA submitted testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies calling for robust funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics, and Census Bureau in fiscal year (FY) 2021. All of COSSA’s FY 2021 testimony will be posted on the COSSA website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 10 (May 12), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Senate Returns Next Week with Uncertain Agenda; House Staying Home

While the Senate is planning to return to in-person work in Washington, DC on May 4, the House abruptly changed course and, upon recommendation from the House physician, will not be reconvening next week. No timeline has been set for the House’s return.

While working mostly remotely, the House and Senate passed its fourth supplemental appropriations bill on April 24 related to the crisis. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 266) provides additional funding for small business loans, additional support for health care providers, and funding for additional COVID-19 testing. There is much speculation surrounding the contents of potential future relief measures. The science and engineering community continues to press for support for research institutions, federal agencies, and infrastructure, which have all suffered over the last several months. Follow COSSA’s COVID-19 coverage for the latest on our efforts to promote the interests of the social and behavioral science research community.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Issue 9 (April 22), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Congress Split on Content, Timing of Next Supplemental

Congress left town in late March upon passage of its third COVID-19 supplemental appropriations bill (see COSSA’s coverage) with no set timeline for return. Many are still speculating about what a fourth coronavirus supplemental bill might contain. Republicans are interested in a package focused on relief for small businesses and an infusion of cash for the Small Business Administration, while Democrats are seeking additional resources for hospitals, food stamp benefits, testing, and protective gear for frontline workers. The research and higher education communities, too, have been developing proposals for Congressional consideration. On April 7, four higher education associations sent a letter to House and Senate leadership calling for $26 billion in additional appropriations to federal research agencies’ extramural research programs to “cover requests for research grant and contract supplements due to COVID-19 related impacts,” provide financial relief to “research support personnel,” and fund additional graduate student and postdoc fellowships. Read the full letter for additional recommendations from the higher education community.

Earlier this month, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee issued a request for input on ideas for research, development, and innovation funding and policies that should be considered in a future COVID-19 relief bill. COSSA submitted a response on April 13.

Stay tuned to COSSA’s COVID-19 Resources page for latest developments.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Issue 8 (April 14), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

COSSA’s Analysis of Enacted COVID-19 Supplemental Funding Legislation, FY 2020

Over the past month, Congress has passed three large stimulus bills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, the three bills comprise the largest economic stimulus package in American history and touch nearly all aspects of American life, including scientific research, support for key economic sectors and small businesses, direct financial support to Americans, and boosts to social safety net programs. All three bills enacted in response to the crisis, so far, have been supplemental appropriations bills, meaning they provide funds to federal agencies and programs in addition to what has already been appropriated for the current fiscal year (FY 2020), which began on October 1, 2019. It remains to be seen how this infusion of funds will impact, if at all, appropriations for next fiscal year (FY 2021), beginning on October 1, 2020. Follow COSSA’s FY 2021 coverage here.

The House of Representatives and Senate are in recess until further notice. Still, Congress is expected to consider additional stimulus legislation in the months ahead. Read on for COSSA’s summary of the three bills that have been enacted so far.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Issue 7 (March 31), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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