Washington Update

Inside (the) Beltway Scoop

By: Ellen Kuo
Wednesday, September 7, 2022
Congress Returns with a Packed Schedule

The Senate’s return after Labor Day marks the final days before the November midterm elections where either chamber of Congress or both may flip from Democratic control to Republican.  

In the days leading to the midterms, the advocacy community will be seeking completion of the fiscal year (FY) 2023 spending bills and passage of a pandemic preparedness bill where ARPA-H would be authorized. In addition, the Rally for Medical Research will take place next week with over 300 participants (including FASEB) calling for at least $49 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health. However, the likelihood of the spending bills being completed is questionable as the political will to do so has waned with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act—a key piece of legislation that the Biden administration sought. Republicans may have decided it is in their best interest to wait until after the midterms to decide how much leverage they will have in shaping the text of these spending bills as they are pushed off with at least one continuing resolution (CR). A CR until sometime after November 8 is certain, given the time crunch facing Congress this month. 

Before the Senate recessed in August, it passed on a party line vote, H.R. 5376, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, to achieve President Biden’s signature initiative of tackling climate change, equity, reducing drug pricing, corporate tax reform, and extending affordable care act subsidies, among other things. The House Rules Committee met on August 10 to consider the Senate Amendment to H.R. 5376. It was passed in the House on August 12 and became law on August 16 after the president’s signature.

In the IRA, Congress appropriated funds to the director of the Office of Science within the U.S. Department of Energy for FY 2022 of $133 million for science laboratory infrastructure projects, $164 million for advanced scientific computing research facilities, $295 million for basic energy sciences projects, and millions more for other types of energy science construction and equipment. For the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under “research, education, and extension,” Congress appropriated $250 million to support and supplement these areas as well as for scholarships and programs that provide internships and pathways to the agricultural sector or federal employment, for 1890 institutions, 1994 institutions, Alaska Native serving institutions, and Native Hawaiian serving institutions to receive grants under the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977. There was also $2.2 billion to provide financial assistance to farmers who experienced discrimination prior to January 1, 2021, in the department’s farm lending programs and another $10 million for one or more equity commissions to address racial equity within the department and its programs.