Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Ellen Kuo
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
House Appropriations Committee Completes Funding Bills

The House Appropriations Committee completed all 12 funding bills for fiscal year (FY) 2023 before leaving town for the July 4 recess. According to a schedule announced by leadership following the break, the House will begin its work to advance appropriation bills to the floor during the week of July 18.

During the FY 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) funding bill markup at full committee, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received $47.5 billion, a $2.5 billion increase from FY 2022. The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) received $2.75 billion, an increase of $1.75 billion over FY 2022. ARPA-H funds are made available through September 30, 2025. Upon completion of the markup, the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research thanked appropriators for the continued support of medical research and pledged to continue working with them as this bill moves through the process. 

A manager's amendment during the LHHS full committee markup also contained text to be inserted in the LHHS report on the maintenance of chimpanzees on U.S. Air Force bases, urging NIH to reevaluate the remaining animals at certain primate centers and assess options for their transport to a national sanctuary at the request of Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). The NIH Office of Lab and Animal Welfare addressed this issue in a 2020 announcement not allowing the transport of chimpanzees that are significantly compromised by disease or have difficulty maintaining quality of life, thereby they must remain in their current location as in their best interest after a review by a licensed veterinarian. More information is available under the regulatory requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

Other language in the LHHS report on animals encouraged NIH to recommend that grantees receiving extramural funds from NIH for research using dogs, cats, or rabbits implement post-research adoption policies for them and requested a plan to improve the accuracy and transparency of collected animal research data, including an online database. Lastly, NIH was directed to establish incentives to encourage investigators to utilize nonanimal methods whenever appropriate, and Congress wanted updates from the workgroup of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods, which is developing metrics to assess the progress made toward reducing, refining, or replacing animal use in testing.

NIH's work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture was also commended, and there was further encouragement of the development of a next generation program that strengthens ties between human medicine, veterinary medicine, and animal sciences. The goal would be to improve animal and human health and provide enhanced applicability and return on investment in research.

Meanwhile, the FY 2023 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations (CJS) bill provided $9.63 billion to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The bill acknowledged that U.S. global leadership requires diverse ideas that will further innovation. Therefore, it makes investments in the future of the nation's economy and workforce, with funding increases for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) engagement at federal agencies beyond NSF and works to broaden participation in STEM programming at NSF.

Several items of interest included acknowledging the impact of the pandemic on the U.S. research enterprise, particularly early-career researchers and the uncertainty of career prospects, not only for this generation but also future generations of scientists. It recommended for the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research that no less than $225 million be provided to help targeted jurisdictions strengthen STEM capacity and capability to broaden the expertise base. Additionally, the committee provided up to $35 million for the newly proposed GRANTED (Growing Research Access for Nationally Transformative Equity and Diversity) initiative to increase opportunities for researchers at emerging and underserved research institutions that have historically lacked institutional support to obtain federal research funding. Other areas included NSF providing its findings in understanding and addressing bias in the merit review process, the creation of clear disclosure requirements pertaining to research security, and an update from NSF on understanding and combatting anti-Asian sentiments by its 100 NSF-funded grantees.