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Progress on ARPA-H and NSF Authorization

June 24, 2022

ARPA-H

On June 22, the House passed the ARPA-H Act which would authorize the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) through 2027. 

Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations legislation provided $1 billion to establish the agency, but offered little in the way of direction for the new entity. With the details left up to the executive branch, Secretary Xavier Becerra of the Department of Health and Human Services appointed Dr. Adam Russell, an anthropologist, as Acting Deputy Director, and established the agency within NIH. The ARPA-H Act would alter the existing setup, making ARPA-H an independent agency. This was a key point of contention in Congressional hearings, and a separate bill under consideration in the Senate, focused on pandemic prevention, proposes situating ARPA-H within NIH.

The ARPA-H Act also offers additional specificity for the agency, outlining legal authorities and broad goals focused on high risk, high reward research to drive breakthroughs in treatment and prevention. The legislation includes a strong focus on avoiding duplication of existing efforts at NIH and other federal research agencies, which has been a focus of FABBS advocacy efforts.

Find out more about ARPA-H HERE.

Bipartisan Innovation Legislation

Legislators continue to make progress on legislation to reauthorize the National Science Foundation, as part of a larger package of bills aimed at boosting American economic competitiveness.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have held meetings to negotiate broad parameters for the bill, which they hope to pass before Congress leaves for its annual August recess. While there is mutual interest in moving quickly to secure a deal, significant disagreements remain. Democrats in the House added additional party priorities, leading to a partisan vote, despite alignment on some core provisions including NSF reauthorization. 

Democrats have recognized they will need to narrow the scope of the legislation in order to reach a bipartisan consensus. So far, reporting suggests that climate provisions and marijuana banking measures have been removed from the bill. Other policies related to trade and labor are also likely to be cut. This would leave a bill that is more focused on domestic manufacturing and federal science agencies. 

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