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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)

House Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2021 Funding Bills

During the week of July 13, the House Appropriations Committee completed its marathon markups of its 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2021, making way for consideration by the full House of Representatives; the relevant subcommittees advanced their respective measures the week prior.

Despite the semblance of “regular order,” the outlook for final FY 2021 spending bills is still very much up in the air as lawmakers continue to grapple with pandemic relief negotiations and as the November elections approach. In addition, the House bills—which were written by the Democrats—include several funding and policy provisions that will be non-starters for the Republican-controlled Senate. For example, one area of contention between the parties is whether to use the FY 2021 spending bills to provide additional coronavirus relief (as currently included in the House Labor, HHS, Education bill), or to negotiate such measures separately (which is the position of that subcommittee’s Ranking Republican). Also threatening final passage of the FY 2021 bills is the perennial fight over whether to fund the President’s border wall; the House Homeland Security bill contains no funding for the project.

Complicating things further are the budget caps to which appropriators were forced to adhere when writing the FY 2021 bills. As previously reported, a bipartisan budget agreement was passed in August 2019 providing much needed relief from tight budget caps on discretionary spending for FY 2020 and FY 2021. The deal allowed Congress to increase funding to federal agencies across the FY 2020 appropriations bills; however, for FY 2021, the deal raised the caps by only 0.4 percent, setting this year up at the outset to be a particularly challenging one.

Timing for consideration of the FY 2021 spending bills in the Senate remains unclear. The chamber returned from a two-week recess to face ongoing COVID-19 relief negotiations and must-pass defense authorization legislation.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the House FY 2021 funding bills for federal agencies and programs important to the social and behavioral science research community.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 21), 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.

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

COSSA Submits Testimony in Support of FY 2021 Funding for Health, Education Agencies

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 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies calling for robust funding for the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (including the National Center for Health Statistics), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, and the Department of Education’s International Education and Foreign Language programs. All of COSSA’s FY 2021 testimony is posted on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 26), 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.

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 26), 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.

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

A Word from COSSA…

Dear Friends:

Our thoughts are with everyone feeling the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. As the world adjusts to a new—and hopefully temporary—way of life, lawmakers in Washington are scrambling to keep the economic and public health consequences from spiraling out of control. Consistent with any major crisis, the next several weeks, if not months, will see nearly all other policymaking grind to a halt as resources (time, personnel, and money) are diverted appropriately to tackling the challenge before us.

This leaves many unknowns about the fate of science funding and policymaking for the foreseeable future. In response, COSSA has decided to transition its Social Science Advocacy Day, originally designed as a “fly-in” for advocates to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, into a “phone-in.” In addition, we elected to delay the Advocacy Day phone-in by one month to April 27-28, 2020. If you are registered for Social Science Advocacy Day and have not been contacted by the COSSA team about these changes, please contact me.

We have outlined below some of the latest developments related to funding and policy important to the social and behavioral science community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional Congressional, Federal Agency, and community updates are also provided.

Finally, we recognize that in these trying times, the activities of Washington might be the farthest from your mind. We will continue to work on behalf of the social science research community during this uncertain time and report on new developments. But more importantly, we hope you will take care of yourself, your family, and your community.

Be well,

Wendy Naus
COSSA Executive Director

Congress

Congressional leaders have been busy working to address the COVID-19 outbreak. On March 6, the President signed into law an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill to address the pandemic. The funding measure included support for state and local health agencies, vaccine and treatment development, and loans for affected small business. More emergency funding and policy measures are expected from Congress.

The outlook for Congressional productivity, particularly on annual appropriations, is uncertain. On March 12, the House and Senate Sergeant at Arms directed the Capitol, as well as the House and Senate Office Buildings to be closed to the public and many Congressional offices have moved to working remotely.

It is too early to tell how the pandemic will affect science funding next year, let alone federal research support this year (check out the next section on how federal agencies are responding to the coronavirus). The COVID-19 crisis coupled with the upcoming Presidential election all but guarantees that fiscal year 2021 will begin on October 1 under a cloud of uncertainty and very likely a continuing resolution.

Federal Agencies

Federal research agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have released a series of informational documents and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affects daily research functions at those agencies.

The NIH FAQ includes links to the most recent information available about how the epidemic will affect practices for existing research awards, affect future awards, how NIH can assist funded researchers with sunk costs for travel or conference fees, and how to best impose isolation in larger research institutions.

The NSF FAQ offers similar information about changes to research practices, but also includes several pieces of information about coronavirus research funding opportunities. NSF has released a Dear Colleague Letter providing guidance on submitting research proposals seeking to treat or prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The NSF Dear Colleague Letter states that research proposals related to COVID-19 may be submitted through existing funding opportunities at NSF, but also invites submissions through the Rapid Response Research (RAPID) funding mechanism for quick-response and time-sensitive events. The NSF FAQ offers additional information about the logistics and special considerations of these coronavirus research proposals. The Dear Colleague Letter and more information about RAPID is available on the NSF website.

Useful Resources

General COVID-19 Resources:

University/Educator Resources:

Federal Agency Resources:

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 17), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

COSSA Submits 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 House 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.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 17), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Work on FY 2021 Appropriations Slows as Congress Works to Address Coronavirus Outbreak

While it is expected that Congress will soon put its regular appropriations work on hold as work shifts to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, committees have begun hearing testimony from Trump Administration officials on federal agencies’ budget proposals for fiscal year 2021. White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director Kelvin Droegemeier testified in front of the House Science Committee on the Administration’s budget for research and development (see previous coverage), NIH leadership testified before the House Appropriations Committee (see related article), and Department of Commerce leadership testified before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. No appropriations bills have been released or considered by the Committees. As the process moves forward—if it moves forward—COSSA will produce analyses of the proposals important to the social and behavioral sciences.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 17), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

House Holds Hearing on NIH Budget for FY 2021

On March 4, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) held a hearing on the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for fiscal year (FY) 2021. Witnesses included 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) Director Ned Sharpless; and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow.

Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK), and full Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) all made glowing remarks in support of NIH and shared an optimism that the agency would receive a significant increase in its budget in FY 2021. Members of the Subcommittee questioned the witnesses on a variety of topics including NIH’s role in responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, initiatives addressing health disparities, Alzheimer’s disease research, open access of federally funded research, and several disease-specific topics. A statement from Collins and a recording of the hearing are available on the House LHHS website.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 17), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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