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COSSA Submits FY 2020 Testimony to House Appropriations Committee in Support of Science Funding

As it does each year, COSSA submitted outside witness testimony to the House Appropriations subcommittees responsible for funding federal agencies important to the social sciences.

COSSA submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for calling for increased funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the Census Bureau in fiscal year (FY) 2020.

COSSA also submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies calling for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Institute for Education Sciences (IES), and International Education and Foreign Language Programs (Title VI and Fulbright-Hays).

These and other statements are available on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 16), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Talks Continue as Congress Attempts to Raise Budget Caps

As previously reported, fiscal year (FY) 2020 discretionary spending is subject to austere caps that were put in place in 2011 as part of a larger effort to significantly reduce the size of the federal budget over 10 years. The Budget Control Act of 2011, or BCA, put in place caps on discretionary spending for both nondefense and defense spending for the period of 2013 through 2021. COSSA joined a letter with over 800 organizational signatures urging Congress to raise these spending caps.

Congressional leaders are now considering several solutions to raise the discretionary spending caps and are currently taking part in high-level negotiations. Proposals include a possible comprehensive multi-year budget resolution, a less-restrictive “deeming resolution,” or legislation that would undo the budget cap requirements altogether. This most notable legislation, H.R. 2021, the Investing for the People Act of 2019, was introduced by Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY), Chair of the House Budget Committee, and would increase discretionary spending limits for the next two fiscal years. COSSA has also joined NDD United to support the passage of H.R. 2021.

COSSA has also released an Action Alert for COSSA Members to communicate directly with their Members of Congress on the importance of raising the caps on non-defense discretionary spending.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 16), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Congress Holds Hearings on FY 2020 NIH Budget

On April 2, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) hosted leadership from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to testify on the agency’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request on April 2. Present were NIH Director Francis Collins, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Director Diana Bianchi, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Director Gary Gibbons, National Cancer Institute (NCI) Deputy Director Doug Lowy, and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow. Members from both parties praised NIH for its accomplishments, solidifying its position as a bipartisan priority.

Full Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY), Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK), and other members of the subcommittee expressed concern with the $4.9 billion cut recommended in the President’s FY 2020 budget request, especially in contrast to the $2 billion increase NIH received from Congress in FY 2019. Committee members questioned the witnesses on the health trends associated with e-cigarettes and vaping, Schedule 1 substance research, the growing measles epidemic, health disparities among women and minorities, and NIH’s testing of medical treatments on animals. A written statement from Collins, along with a recording of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website.

The following week on April 11, the Senate Appropriations LHHS Subcommittee held its budget hearing with NIH leaders, including Drs. Collins, Fauci, Lowy, and Volkow, as well as National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Director Griffin Rodgers, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Director Jon Lorsch, and National Institute on Aging (NIA) Director Richard Hodes. As in the House, NIH received bipartisan praise from Subcommittee members. Several senators, including Full Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL), Subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) expressed concern with the cut in the President’s 2020 budget. Committee members questioned the witnesses on NIH activities relating to foreign government espionage and theft of research, preventing sexual harassment in research settings, NIH’s relationship with private research entities, developing young scientists, the opioid epidemic, and the growing measles epidemic. Written statements from Blunt and Collins, along with a recording of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 16), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Administration Releases FY 2020 Budget Request; Read COSSA’s Analysis of Social Science Impacts

On March 11, the Trump Administration released a preview of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget request to Congress, with additional details unveiled the following weeks. The budget was delivered about a month late, largely due to the partial government shutdown that paralyzed much of the federal workforce throughout December and January.

The President’s request proposes steep cuts to all corners of the federal budget, with the exception of national security-focused agencies which would see significant boosts. When considering the Trump Administration’s proposals for FY 2020 it is important to remember that the budget request remains a political, largely symbolic document outlining the Administration’s priorities for the years ahead. It is important to take note of the policy priorities contained within the budget as they could shape some legislative and/or executive actions later in the year; however, as is always the case, Congress has the final say over the appropriation of funds and, in the case of the FY 2020 budget request, legislators are not likely to share the President’s funding priorities, especially cuts to research, the elimination of entire agencies, and reductions in domestic funding more generally.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the President’s proposals as they pertain to social and behavioral science research. You can read our supplement on the Department of Commerce budget request (which was released late) here.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Release of President’s Budget Puts Pressure on Congress to Raise Caps; COSSA Urges Advocates to Take Action

The release of the President’s budget request signals the official kick-off of the annual appropriations process in Congress. However, before Congress can fully dive into the FY 2020 bills, lawmakers must address a larger threat facing federal funding for next year. As COSSA has been reporting, discretionary spending that is appropriated every year by Congress has been subject to austere caps that were put in place in 2011 as part of a larger effort to significantly reduce the size of the federal budget over 10 years. The Budget Control Act of 2011, or BCA, put in place caps on discretionary spending for both nondefense and defense spending for the period of 2013 through 2021.

Thankfully, since 2013, Congress has been able to find bipartisan ways to amend the BCA and provide relief to the caps, allowing federal R&D agencies (as well as other parts of the federal budget) to achieve funding increases above the caps each year. However, the latest relief measures only raised the caps for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, meaning that unless Congress acts to address the caps again for FY 2020, they will take effect once again, resulting in a cut of $54 billion (9 percent) from nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending (which includes most research accounts), and $71 billion (11 percent) from defense discretionary accounts. In future years, under the President’s proposal, NDD funding would be reduced by an additional 2 percent each year through 2029, while shifting funding to “resource national defense requirements.” Interestingly, the President’s request itself violates the BCA by proposing to bust the defense discretionary caps by $165 billion (using the controversial Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account to further pad defense budgets). Therefore, regardless of where you stand, a deal will need to be struck in some form in the coming months if either side—defense or nondefense—are to see desired increases.

Lawmakers have already started talks and will be working for the next several months to attempt to strike a deal to prevent these cuts from taking effect in FY 2020. Of course, given the hyper-partisan and contentious nature of today’s Washington, a bipartisan deal is not guaranteed. You can expect to see the funding debate heat up in the coming weeks and perhaps also stretch into the fall or beyond.

COSSA has issued an action alert urging members to write to their Members of Congress to tell them to prioritize a budget deal that gives fair treatment to vital non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs—including science and research agencies—which have disproportionately borne the brunt of federal spending cuts over the past several years.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Congressional Appropriators Get to Work; NSF Director Testifies

Following the release of the Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request, Congressional leaders have gotten to work on spending bills for the coming fiscal year. As COSSA has previously reported, Congress must first address the limits to discretionary spending (“raise the caps”) before they can complete the FY 2020 appropriations process. Congress has until the end of September to finalize all government spending. COSSA has signed onto a letter as part of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) to encourage Congress to raise the caps on discretionary spending.

While Congress has yet to reach a broader budget deal to address the caps on discretionary spending, Appropriations Subcommittees have started reviewing federal agencies’ budget requests as the first step in the appropriations process.

Last week, the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS) received testimony from France Córdova, the Director of the National Science Foundation, on the agency’s FY 2020 budget request. In her prepared statement, Director Córdova emphasized NSF’s Ten Big Ideas and the many contributions that NSF-funded research has made to the everyday lives of Americans – from iPhone and search engine technology to Doppler radar and American Sign Language adoption.  Members of the subcommittee expressed concern about the proposed twelve percent decrease for the agency in FY 2020, and how the agency was going to balance the rest of their research portfolio while investing in the Ten Big Ideas. Members of the subcommittee also highlighted the importance of social science in relation to the priorities of the NSF, including artificial intelligence, and their own priorities, including program evaluation, STEM education, and economic opportunity. Other topics of discussion included NSF investment in scientific infrastructure and broadening participation in STEM. An archive of the hearing can be viewed on the House Appropriations Committee website.

Leaders from the National Institutes of Health and the Census Bureau are scheduled to testify this week. For more information on Appropriations hearings and bills follow the COSSA Washington Update.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 2), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Details of President’s FY 2020 Budget Request Emerge

This week, the Trump Administration began releasing details of its fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request. Like previous years, the budget proposes steep cuts that would damage America’s research and data enterprise. Full details of the budget are still in the process of being released this week. COSSA will be sharing its in-depth analysis of the proposal in the coming days. Below is a snapshot of some of the funding levels we know so far:

PBR Fy 2020

It is important to remember that the Presidents’ request is simply a proposal and is unlikely to become law. Congress has sole authority over appropriating funds. COSSA has signed on to a letter to Congressional leaders as part of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) encouraging Congress reach a bipartisan agreement to raise the budget caps for non-defense discretionary spending and recommending an increased appropriation of $9 billion for the National Science Foundation in FY 2020.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

COSSA Urges Action on Non-Defense Discretionary Spending

Before Congress can fully dive in to the FY 2020 appropriations process (see related article), it must address a larger threat facing funding for next year. As COSSA has reported, the Budget Control Act of 2011 put in place caps on discretionary spending for every year between 2013 and 2021, which limit how much Congress can spend every year with an aim of reducing the federal deficit. Thankfully, Congress took action since 2013 to amend the law and raise the caps, which has allowed funding for federal research agencies to increase above the painful caps. Unfortunately, the relief enacted by Congress expires in FY 2020, meaning if Congress does not act this year to provide relief (to “raise the caps”), these draconian spending limits will be back in force and translate to devastating cuts to programs important to our community.

In response, COSSA has issued an action alert urging members to write to their Members of Congress to tell them to prioritize a budget deal that gives fair treatment to vital non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs—including science and research agencies—which have disproportionately borne the brunt of federal spending cuts over the past several years.

The action alert can be found on COSSA’s website.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 19), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

March’s Headlines Webchat to Feature Deep Dive on FY 2020 Budget Request

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COSSA members are encouraged to sign up for the monthly Headlines webchat on March 14 at 2:00 pm Eastern, in which COSSA staff will recap the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month and answer participants’ questions. The March chat will feature a deep dive discussion with COSSA staff on the Trump Administration’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 5), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

Trump Administration to Release FY 2020 Budget Request Next Week

The Trump Administration is planning to release its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Budget Request in batches over the next couple of weeks. Due to the 35-day partial government shutdown and delayed ending to the FY 2019 appropriations process (see previous coverage), the President’s budget, which is supposed to be delivered to Congress in early February, is not expected until mid-March. Reports indicate that preliminary details will be released the week of March 11 with full details available the week of March 18.

The research community is expecting another tough year for federal science agencies and programs, especially as the President has hinted at his plans to increase defense spending at the expense of non-defense discretionary spending, which includes federal research funding. As always, COSSA will prepare an in-depth analysis of the proposals for agencies and programs important to our community.

It is important to note that the President’s budget is just that – a budget. Congress is not waiting for the President’s request to be delivered to begin their work on the annual appropriations bills. Oversight hearings are already beginning, and generally, the President’s request is expected to have little bearing on Congress’s funding deliberations.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 5), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

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