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News & Media

Washington Update

June 30, 2021

House Passes Science Bills, Teeing Up Negotiations with Senate Over U.S. Competitiveness Legislation
On Monday night, the House passed the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act and Department of Energy (DOE) for the Future Act. The bills would authorize significant funding boosts for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy Office of Science. APLU President McPherson issued a statement applauding the bills’ passage, noting House passage represents a key step forward for U.S. scientific leadership.

The NSF for the Future Act is complementary legislation to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which passed the Senate earlier in June. There are notable differences between the two bills, including the approach to a new directorate focused on technology innovation at the National Science Foundation. The Senate bill also includes sizable funding authorizations for other federal research agencies. House and Senate negotiators will try to reconcile differences between bills and reach agreement on final legislation.

FY2022 Budget and Appropriations Update
House Appropriations Committee released its FY2022 302(b) subcommittee allocations, setting the overall levels of funding provided to each appropriations subcommittee. In total, the allocations would provide more than $1.5 trillion in federal funding for discretionary appropriations in FY2022 (16 percent above FY2021 enacted levels).

On June 25, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration marked up and approved its FY2022 appropriations bill via voice vote. full committee is scheduled to markup the bill on Wednesday. The House Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense, Interior and Environment and State and Foreign Operations also marked up their respective bills earlier this week.

APLU’s FY2022 appropriations priorities chart has been updated to reflect House action.

Comments Due to ED this Week on Proposed 2021-22 Negotiated Rulemaking Topics
Last week, the Department of Education (ED) heard from more than 150 stakeholders during public hearings to discuss proposed topics for ED’s 2021-22 negotiated rulemaking on Title IV programs. The comments largely focused on reinstating some version of gainful employment regulations, ensuring the effectiveness of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, and increasing access to income-driven repayment (IDR) plans.

In addition to hearing public testimony, ED is accepting written comments through this Thursday, July 1. APLU will join the higher education community to submit comments on topics important to institutions. Once ED staff review and respond to public testimony and written comments, ED will release additional details for the proposed rulemaking schedule and begin to solicit recommendations for negotiators. APLU will continue to monitor ED’s regulatory actions and weigh in as the 2021-22 rulemaking process progresses.

Representatives DeGette and Upton Release Cures 2.0 Discussion Draft
Last week, Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) released Cures 2.0, bipartisan draft legislation (see section by section) that would authorize $6.5 billion for President Biden’s proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) as well $25 billion for research relief through the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act.

Release of the draft legislation coincided with a concept paper (see fact sheet) published in Science Magazine by the White House outlining its vision for ARPA-H. The White House hopes to model ARPA-H after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which they explain “follows a flexible and nimble strategy, undeterred by the possibility of failure, and has driven breakthrough advances for the Department of Defense (DOD) for more than 60 years.”

Representatives DeGette and Upton also released a Request for Information inviting stakeholders to provide input on several issues pertaining to ARPA-H, including areas and activities of focus, aspects of DARPA that should be replicated, coordination with other federal agencies, and funding levels.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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