Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Ellen Kuo
Thursday, September 16, 2021

Reconciliation Package Makes It Way Through Committees

The multi-trillion dollar reconciliation package is making its way through the House and Senate. This month, various House committees scheduled markups for their sections of the package to comply with fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget reconciliation instructions, found in S. Con. Res. 14. All text from House committee markups will eventually be sent to the House Budget Committee for consolidation and be voted out of this committee to eventually make it to the House floor for a vote by the end of September.  

On September 9 the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held its markup to advance legislation for the $45.5 billion assigned to them in the reconciliation package, with an amendment from Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)  in the nature of a substitute. With regard to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) research and development account, until September 30, 2031, $7.6 billion is provided to fund or extend new and existing research awards, scholarships, and fellowships across all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and STEM education disciplines; fund use-inspired and translational research and development awards, entrepreneurial education, and technology transfer activities; extend existing research awards and scholarships and fellowships to aid in the recovery from COVID-19 related disruptions and for related administrative expenses. Separately, NSF’s research infrastructure would receive $3.4 billion until September 30, 2031, with $1 billion for academic research facilities modernization, of which $300 million shall be for academic research facilities modernization at historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, Tribal colleges and universities, and other minority serving institutions. There is also $50 million for the NSF Office of the Inspector General to remain available until September 30, 2031, for oversight, investigations, and audits of programs, grants, and projects carried out by NSF.

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee also set aside money for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science for FY 2022, of which $10.4 billion is to remain available until September 30, 2026, to carry out laboratory infrastructure projects. This total amount is divided into three categories: $7.8 billion for construction projects, $1.5 billion for major items of equipment, and $1.1 billion for science laboratories infrastructure. There is additional research and development funding by other House committees in support of the White House’s request of at least $15 billion as an initial amount of the $65.3 billion it seeks over seven to 10 years under its pandemic preparedness plan.

Other efforts are taking place to keep attention on obtaining $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) during reconciliation to enable the agency to mitigate pandemic-related disruptions without forgoing promising new science. This was also outlined in the bipartisan Research Investment to Spark the Economy Act of 2021 introduced earlier this year (H.R. 869/S. 289). The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to hold a hybrid markup on September 13 and has provided $3 billion for President Biden’s priority, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies and platforms to transform areas of medicine and health for the benefit of all. In the House Education and Labor committee print, there is an increase in funding for programs that support research and development at eligible institutions funded by the NIH, including the Path to Excellence and Innovation program—a comprehensive plan to expand the existing NIH Small Business Program to provide outreach, training, and technical assistance to historically Black colleges and universities applying for NIH contracts.

As for other House committees of interest, on September 10, the House Committee on Agriculture’s committee print was marked up. In the print, there was a total of $500 million in funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative from FY 2022-2026 to carry out agricultural education, extension, and research relating to climate change. In anticipation of this markup, Republican leaders  signed a joint letter asking for a return to the committee's history of bipartisanship for the common good of rural America. In another joint letter, the land-grant universities asked for an $11.5 billion investment in agricultural facilities at capacity eligible institutions by way of the Research Facilities Act through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, its extramural funding agency. However, only $3.65 billion was provided in the committee print for modernizing agricultural research facilities. Lastly, the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee was expected to mark up its portion of the reconciliation package on September 13.