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Capitol Hill: Spotlight on Science

July 20, 2022

New Bipartisan Caucus for Graduate R&D

On July 13, Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA),Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Stephanie Bice (R-OK) launched the Graduate Research and Development (GRAD) Caucus.

These co-chairs are actively looking to grow the caucus, which they say will “provide briefings on programs and policies important to graduate researchers, educate members of Congress on the work and impact of graduate researchers, and provide a forum for members to advance policy solutions needed to support these researchers.”

FABBS is excited to see lots of attention being paid to the importance of graduate level researchers. Caucuses provide new opportunities to advocate on these issues, and indicate a growing appreciation for these issues among lawmakers.

Budget Update

Six of the twelve annual spending bills are scheduled for House votes on July 19, however, these do not include legislation providing funding increases to the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Institute of Education Sciences, which passed the full House Appropriations Committee at the end of June. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said that he hopes to hold votes on these bills during July, but it is unclear when that will happen

While progress in the House is encouraging, there is still significant work to be done before any funding legislation becomes law. These bills passed through Committee with only Democratic support and final legislation will require bipartisan support to pass the Senate. November’s midterm elections may cause additional delays if lawmakers choose to pass a continuing resolution until they know the outcome of the election. A change of party control in either the House or Senate would alter the dynamics of any bipartisan negotiations.

NSF Authorization in Question

Until recently, legislators were making steady progress on legislation to reauthorize the National Science Foundation as part of a larger package of bills aimed at boosting American economic competitiveness. The House and Senate each passed a version of this, known as the America COMPETES Act and USICA respectively. Representatives and Senators have been working to reconcile differences between the two.

Recently, drama surrounding a larger political dispute in the Senate left the future of the legislation in doubt. After last ditch efforts led by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Todd Young, the original sponsors of the bill, the Senate has now taken steps to move forward with a narrower version of the bill. Thankfully, this narrow version still includes NSF provisions and authorizes more than $80 billion for the National Science Foundation over the next five years.

While authorizing legislation does not directly appropriate money, they lay out a clear vision for the agency. This bipartisan statement of support for NSF will be a key tool in advocacy efforts in the coming years, as we continue to work with the broader scientific community to grow the agency’s budget and support more fundamental research in the behavioral and brain sciences.

FABBS has actively worked with House and Senate leaders on this effort for over a year, including through our role as a co-chair of the Coalition for National Science Funding. We are grateful that Members of Congress were able to reach this deal, and optimistic that this NSF reauthorization will become law.

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