On Monday, May 17, the House of Representatives passed five bills endorsed by the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS). The legislation passed by voice vote, a process requiring a two-thirds majority for passage, indicating broad bipartisan support for these important measures.
These bipartisan bills sponsored by Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, now head to the Senate for further consideration. Three of the bills, HR 144, HR 2695, and HR 210 have been incorporated into the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), a large proposal to invest in technology research and development aimed at countering China. Debate on USICA is ongoing, with a vote expected this week.
FABBS is grateful for the attention to these STEM workforce issues, and we hope to see their swift adoption in the Senate.
- HR 144, the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act, proposes the National Science Foundation (NSF) create a two-year fellowship program for scientists facing fewer job opportunities in academia because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- HR 204, the STEM Opportunities Act, seeks to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The bill would expand collection of demographic data on federal research grant applicants and promote the identification and dissemination of best practices for increasing diversity in STEM.
- HR 2695, the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act , directs NSF to award grants to institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations (or their consortia) to expand research into sexual harassment and gender harassment in the STEM workforce, including students and trainees; and examine interventions for reducing the incidence and negative consequences of such harassment.
- HR 2027, the MSI (Minority Serving Institution) STEM Achievement Act , sponsored by Johnson and Rep Mike Waltz (R-FL), supports efforts to increase STEM education at minority-serving institutions of higher education (IHEs), including by requiring NSF to award grants for building the capacity of such IHEs to increase the number and success of their students in the STEM workforce.
- HR 210, Rural STEM Education Act would direct NSF to support research on ways to improve the quality and accessibility of STEM instruction in rural schools, including through online coursework.