Blog Archives

House Passes Funding for NSF, Higher Ed, and IES in $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill

The House of Representatives passed a massive relief bill on February 27 that aims to bring financial support to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319, committee report) includes direct payments to individuals, expansion of unemployment assistance, and an increase to the national minimum wage, among many other provisions. It also includes several notable provisions of interest to the science community, including $39.9 billion in funding for colleges and universities, with half to be used for student aid, as laid out in the CARES Act (see COSSA’s previous coverage). The bill also includes $100 million for the Institute of Education Sciences for research related to addressing learning loss caused by the coronavirus among K-12 students.

In addition, the National Science Foundation would receive $600 million “to fund or extend new and existing research grants, cooperative agreements, scholarships, fellowships, and apprenticeships, and related administrative expenses to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” While not included in the original bill text, this funding was added as part of the manager’s amendment that was passed on the House floor. This funding, if enacted, could only be used for research about the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill does not provide any any relief for scientists whose research on other topics has been disrupted. The bipartisan RISE Act (see previous coverage), should it become law, would provide NSF with $3 billion to support non-COVID-related research impacted by the pandemic.

Senate leadership is now working on its own version of the legislation, which is expected to be voted on the coming days. While some of the larger provisions may change, such as the minimum wage increase, the research and higher education relief funding discussed above is expected to be maintained in the Senate bill. COSSA will continue to report on the progress of this legislation as it nears passage.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 2), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

House Science Committee Organizes

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has announced its membership roster for the 117th Congress (see the majority and minority press releases). As previously reported, the Chair and Ranking Member will again be Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK). Members new to the Science Committee this Congress include Carlos Giménez (R-FL), Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Young Kim (R-CA), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Peter Meijer (R-MI), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Deborah K. Ross (D-NC), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Daniel Webster (R-FL), and Susan Wild (D-PA). Democratic subcommittee leadership is largely unchanged from the 116th Congress, with the exception of Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) helming the Subcommittee on Energy and Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) leading the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. On the Republican side, Rep. Bice will serve as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Environment, Rep. Obernolte will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, and Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) will be the Ranking Member on the Research and Technology Subcommittee. The full Science Committee roster is available on the Science Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 2), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on COVID-19 Impacts and the Recovery of the U.S. Research Enterprise

On February 25, the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology (SST) held a hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on U.S. research and potential solutions to provide relief and recovery to the research enterprise. The hearing featured testimony from CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Dr. Sudip Parikh, Vice President for Research at Washington State University Dr. Christopher Keane, Executive Vice President of the Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Thomas Quaadman, and Executive Director of the American Educational Research Association and member of COSSA’s Board of Directors Dr. Felice Levine. The hearing was presided over by SST Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK).

The Committee members questioned the witnesses on a variety of issues related to the public health emergency surrounding COVID-19 and how it is affecting the U.S. research enterprise. Members posed questions related to the stagnation of U.S. research investment per capita, the future of U.S. leadership in science on the international stage, inequities among women and racial minorities in research, the career development for young people in science and technology, the importance of public-private partnerships in coordinating the research enterprise, and the need for funding to jumpstart research that has slowed due to the pandemic.

A major topic of discussion was the prospect of passing the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act (H.R. 869), which would authorize $25 billion across several research agencies to offset costs related to lost research productivity due to the pandemic. Each of the panelists voiced support for the passage of the RISE Act, with many Democratic members of the Committee echoing this support. Support for the legislation was also expressed by some of the Republican members of the Committee, including Ranking Member Lucas, although concerns were raised about perceived partisanship in the drafting of the bill and reluctance to spend money for research while institutions are partially closed.

Of note, Dr. Levine advocated for the passage of the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act (H.R. 144) to help offset lost human capital in research. Dr. Levine also highlighted the role of the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as well as the role of the social and behavioral sciences in identifying ways to bolster the scientific workforce in the aftermath of COVID-19 and for future generations.

Chairwoman Johnson’s opening statement, the witnesses’ testimonies, and a recording of the hearing are available on the SST Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 2), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

House Science Committee Holds Hearing On COVID-19 Vaccines and Encouraging Uptake

On February 19, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing on “The Science of COVID-19 Vaccines and Encouraging Vaccine Uptake.” The Committee heard testimony from Professor in Vaccinology and Director at the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, Director and Health Authority at the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Philip Huang, Deputy Commissioner at the Oklahoma State Department of Health Keith Reed, and the Scientific Director at the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics and Associate Professor of Nursing and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Dr. Alison Buttenheim. The hearing was overseen by Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK).

Throughout the hearing, varying were views expressed over whether supply or demand of vaccines should be the focus. Dr. Huang reminded the Committee that vaccine hesitancy remains an issue, and Dr. Neuzil advocated for more investment into social science research for a better understanding of vaccine hesitancy. Dr. Buttenheim and Dr. Huang both advocated for removing logistical hurdles preventing citizens from getting discouraged by protocols. The witnesses also criticized the framing of “Operation Warp Speed,” the government’s vaccine development and distribution initiative, as a potential contributor to public fear of the speed of vaccine development. They also cautioned against proposing incentives for vaccination, on the grounds that it would send the wrong message around vaccines.

There was also discussion around differences between the several versions of the vaccine and how citizens could be overwhelmed by choosing which vaccine to take. Dr. Buttenheim advocated for reducing the cognitive load for citizens by bringing all authorized COVID-19 vaccines under one label like influenza vaccines. Two Committee members, Mike Garcia (R-CA) and Randy Weber (R-TX), raised concerns over this approach—Garcia agreed with the science behind the reasoning, but believed this could do more harm than good in the long-term. Every witness agreed that communication coming from local and trusted medical leaders must be clear and consistent to allow diverse strategies that best serve the populations equitably and build long-term confidence. Dr. Buttenheim laid out specific strategies in her written testimony. The hearing is available on the Committee on Science, Space, & Technology’s website.

This article was contributed by Nicholas Lynn, COSSA’s spring intern.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 2), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Congress Confronts Packed Post-Impeachment To-Do List

For the first time since taking office, the Biden Administration and 117th Congress can work without being consumed by the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill can now forge ahead on a COVID-19 relief package currently being negotiated and with confirmation hearings for Biden appointees. The House is looking to vote on a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package next week, which is expected to pass largely along party lines. The goal is for the House and Senate to send a completed package to the President by March 14 when current unemployment insurance relief expires. On the nominations front, President Biden’s picks to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Education, as well as Attorney General, are all still awaiting confirmation by the Senate. There will be a flurry of activity over the next few weeks to play catch up now that impeachment is complete.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 16), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Lawmakers Reintroduce RISE Act

On February 5, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act. As previously reported, the RISE Act seeks to provide funding relief to federal science agencies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would authorize $25 billion in emergency relief, including $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $3 billion for the National Science Foundation. Funding would be used to support non-COVID-related research that has been impacted or shuttered by the closure of labs resulting from the pandemic. This legislation is different from the $1.9 trillion COVID package discussed elsewhere in this issue; if it is to be enacted, it will need to be considered separately, likely as part of future talks on COVID relief.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 16), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

House Appropriations Leadership Finalized

The House Appropriations Committee recently announced its membership for the 117th Congress, including the naming of Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) as full committee chair and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) as chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee (see below for details). Congressional committees in the House and Senate have been slowly taking shape in recent weeks; however, many committee rosters have yet to be finalized, especially in the Senate where the majority has recently shifted from Republicans to Democrats. We will continue to report on notable new assignments as they are announced.

House Appropriations Committee (see majority press release and minority press release)

  • Full Appropriations Committee
    • Chair: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) *NEW*
    • Ranking Member: Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)
  • Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee (with funding jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation, Census Bureau, National Institute of Justice and other agencies)
    • Chair: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) *NEW*
    • Ranking Member: Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL)
  • Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee (with funding jurisdiction over the National Institutes of Health, Department of Education and other agencies)
    • Chair: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
    • Ranking Member: Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)
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Posted in Issue 3 (February 2), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

COSSA Releases Analysis of FY 2021 Appropriations for Science Agencies

As previously reported, before adjourning for the year Congress passed a combined appropriations and coronavirus aid package that provides much needed pandemic relief and will fund the government through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2021 (September 30, 2021). Following several days of uncertainty, President Trump signed the package into law on December 27.

COSSA’s full analysis of the final FY 2021 funding bills for federal agencies and programs important to the social and behavioral science research community is now available here.

Attention now turns to the 117th Congress which convened on January 3. Lawmakers have begun the process of organizing and making Committee assignments ahead of President-Elect Biden’s inauguration on January 20, even as control of the Senate is not yet decided. Stay tuned to COSSA’s coverage for the latest developments.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 5), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act Reintroduced in 117th Congress

On January 5, the House Science, Space, and Technology (SST) Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act (H.R. 144), legislation that would create a new postdoctoral fellowship program at the National Science Foundation to support early-career researchers whose opportunities have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson and Lucas, who had previously introduced the legislation in the previous Congress, have stated that the goal of the legislation is to prevent the loss of research talent due to any economic disruptions that may have occurred due to the public health emergency. The bill’s text is available on the SST Committee website.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 5), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Congress Passes Final FY 2021 Funding, COVID Relief, Closing the Books on an Extraordinary Year

After weeks of tense negotiations, Congressional leaders reached an agreement on a coronavirus aid package and legislation to fund the government through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2021. The appropriations agreement largely provides flat funding or modest increases to social science agencies, unsurprising given the strains placed on the federal budget by the pandemic. COSSA will release a full analysis of the funding bills for social science agencies later this week. In the meantime, top-line funding for agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences are provided in the chart below. COSSA’s complete coverage of FY 2021 funding can be found here.

FY 2021 appropriations snapshot

The $900 billion COVID relief package includes direct payments for individuals meeting certain income thresholds, extension of unemployment benefits, support for small business through the Paycheck Protection Program, among many other priorities. Notable for the social science community is $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Relief Emergency fund to help universities defray the costs associated with the pandemic and provide financial assistance to students. In addition, the bill includes $28 million for use through FY 2022 to support pandemic-related costs related to administering the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). NAEP has been postponed amid the educational upheaval caused by the pandemic.

Within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the agreement provides $8.75 billion in supplemental funding for the CDC for use through FY 2024 to “plan, prepare for, promote, distribute, administer, monitor, and track coronavirus vaccines to ensure broad-based distribution, access, and vaccine coverage.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to receive $1.25 billion for use through FY 2024 to support research and clinical trials related to the long-term effects of COVID-19, as well as continued support for expanding and improving COVID-19 testing.

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Posted in Issue 25 (December 22), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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