On Wednesday, March 10, the House passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, to incorporate amendments added by the Senate last week. The bill now heads to the White House for President Biden’s signature, successfully meeting the March 14 deadline, when expanded unemployment benefits will run dry.
Of note for FABBS members, the bill includes $600 million for the National Science Foundation to fund new and existing research to respond to COVID-19, and $100 million for the Institute of Education Sciences to carry out research related to addressing learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. FABBS is also advocating for funding to support U.S. researchers who have been impacted by the pandemic and to support the research enterprise in rebuilding from the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. FABBS requested $3 billion for NSF, and $200 million for IES.
The massive bill provides direct payments for millions of Americans, extends federal unemployment benefits through August, and invests billions in fighting COVID-19. On top of these headline items, the bill includes a number of under-the-radar provisions, such as a massive expansion to the Child Tax Credit that some say will cut child poverty in half in the United States. A full summary of the package can be found HERE.
House Democratic appropriators officially announced the return of Congressionally Directed Spending, commonly known as Earmarks, for the first time since being banned in 2011. House Republicans have not come to a formal decision yet, but are reportedly leaning toward embracing the process.
New rules measures have been put in place to ensure that the system is transparent and avoids abuse. Notable among these new rules:
- Members of Congress and their families may not have any financial interest in the projects they request;
- For-profit entities are not eligible for funding under the program;
- No more than 1 percent of discretionary spending can be dedicated to such projects.
The Senate has yet to make any official announcements about the return of earmarks, and the 50-50 split means that any process would likely require a bipartisan agreement. Reports suggest that Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Shelby of the Senate Appropriations Committee are currently in talks to do just that.
Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations
The Biden Administration has yet to release a budget, there is speculation that the Administration will release a “skinny budget” – a broad-brush preview of a full budget – on March 29. The Administration has demonstrated a deep appreciation for the value of science and indicated strong support for the federal investment in federal agencies investing in the science.
Many Congressional offices have already set deadlines for receiving appropriations requests – some have already passed – while others are waiting until they see the Presidential Budget request. FABBS works with broad coalitions (Ad Hoc Groups for Medical Research, Coalition for National Science Funding, and the Friends of IES) to determine annual appropriations requests and actively support the federal investment in behavioral and brain sciences.
FABBS Federal funding priorities for FY 2022 include:
- NIH – $46.1 billion
- NSF – $10 billion
- IES – $700 million