Category Archives: Legislation

HR 748: CARES Act

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or “CARES Act,” the largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history to address economic impacts of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. President Trump signed the measure on the same day. The $2 trillion stimulus package includes economic relief measures to help individuals, small businesses, and “severely distressed” industry sectors deal with the impacts of the outbreak. Funds are also provided to support coronavirus-related research.

The legislation provides $4.3 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support public health preparedness and response and $1.25 billion in funding for federal research agencies to support research to understand the disease.

The measure allocates $76 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF), including $75 million for Research and Related Activities “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, including to fund research grants and other necessary expenses,” and $1 million to address impacts on the grant administration process. The research allocation will support NSF’s ongoing Rapid Response Research (RAPID) funding mechanism in response to coronavirus. RAPID grants fast-track time-sensitive research by allowing NSF “to receive and review proposals having a severe urgency with regard to availability of or access to data, facilities or specialized equipment as well as quick-response research on natural or anthropogenic disasters and similar unanticipated events.” NSF has invited such proposals in a recently shared Dear Colleague Letter.

Other provisions in the stimulus package include:

  • $945.5 million for the National Institutes of Health for “vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic research to increase our understanding of COVID-19, including underlying risks to cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions.”
  • $20 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to support agency operations and National Weather Service life and property related services.
  • $60 million for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for operational adjustments associated with rescheduling missions.
  • $99.5 million for the Department of Energy Office of Science for the operation of the national laboratory scientific user facilities, including support for equipment and personnel associated with research and development efforts related to coronavirus.
  • $6 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to support agency operations during the emergency, including “research and measurement science activities to improve coronavirus testing capabilities and support development of coronavirus diagnostics.”
  • $3 million for the United States Forest Service for its research account “to re-establish scientific experiments impacted by travel restrictions, such as the Forest Inventory and Analysis program.”

Additionally, the package provides financial aid for universities that have shut down as a result of the pandemic, with some of the funding directed to support disrupted research. The Department of Education would receive $30.9 billion in “flexible funding” that will go directly to states, local school districts, and institutions of higher education “to help schools, students, teachers, and families with immediate needs related to coronavirus.” This includes $14.25 billion for higher education, at least half of which would be directed to support students “facing urgent needs related to coronavirus” and the rest would be used to “support institutions as they cope with the immediate effects of coronavirus and school closures.”

On March 19, four organizations representing major research institutions and medical schools across the country requested the White House and Congress to increase research spending at federal science agencies by 15 percent or $13 billion to deal with research disruptions. “We anticipate significant impacts on research personnel and students and their work but, given the great uncertainties about the duration of the crisis, we cannot comprehensively quantify all the costs at this time,” noted the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the American Council on Education.

This is the third bill passed by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first emergency supplemental appropriations package, enacted on March 6, allocated $8.3 billion to respond to the virus, including funds for vaccine development, support for state and local governments, and assistance for affected small businesses. The second bill, enacted on March 18, “guarantees free coronavirus testing, secures paid emergency leave, enhances Unemployment Insurance, strengthens food security initiatives, and increases federal Medicaid funding to states.”

S.3397: INSPIRES Act

To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 by establishing a program to support the modernization, renovation, or repair of career and technical education facilities, to enable schools serving grades 6 through 12 that are located in rural areas or that serve Native American students to remodel or build new facilities to provide STEM classrooms and laboratories and support high-speed internet, and for other purposes.

HR 1865: Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020

This bill provides Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations for several federal departments and agencies. It includes 8 of the 12 regular FY 2020 appropriations bills for:

  • Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
  • Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
  • Legislative Branch
  • Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
  • Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Read more at: https://www.aibs.org/public-policy-reports/2019_12_23.html#067093

HR 1572: Botanical Sciences and Native Plant Materials Research, Restoration, and Promotion Act

The bill, also referred to as the Botany bill, promotes botanical research and botanical sciences capacity, and for other purposes.

In general, the legislation would require the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Land Management, United States Geological Survey, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and such other agencies and instrumentalities as the Secretary determines appropriate, to support a robust program of intramural and extramural botanical science research as relevant and appropriate to support the Department’s land management responsibilities.

HR 3038: Securing American Science and Technology Act (SASTA) of 2019

To establish an interagency working group to coordinate activities and develop policy guidance to protect federally funded research and development from foreign interference, and for other purposes.

The bill would create a roundtable at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and an interagency working group within the White House, to serve as platforms for discussions among stakeholders on how to address issues of foreign influence on science and academic espionage.  

HR 36: Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019

This bill addresses sexual harassment in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields by supporting sexual harassment research and efforts to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.

This bill directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award grants to institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations (or their consortia) to

  • expand research into sexual harassment in the STEM workforce, including students and trainees; and
  • examine interventions for reducing the incidence and negative consequences of such harassment.

The NSF must convene a working group composed of representatives of federal statistical agencies to develop questions on sexual harassment in STEM departments in order to gather national data on the prevalence, nature, and implications of such harassment in institutions of higher education.

The NSF shall enter into agreements with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to (1) update a responsible conduct guide issued by the National Academies, and (2) study the influence of sexual harassment in institutions of higher education on the career advancement of individuals in the STEM workforce.

The National Science and Technology Council shall establish an interagency working group to coordinate the federal science agencies’ efforts to reduce the prevalence of sexual harassment involving grant personnel.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy must develop a uniform set of policy guidelines for such agencies to prevent and respond to reports of sexual harassment.

The measure was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 23, 2019.

HR 627: STEM Research and Education Effectiveness and Transparency Act

This bill directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to report on the effectiveness of all NSF research and education programs intended to broaden the participation of women and other historically underrepresented individuals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines and careers.

Each federal agency that expended at least $100 million on research and development in FY2017 shall annually submit to the NSF standardized record-level information on demographics, primary field, award type, review rating, budget request, funding outcome, and awarded budget for all applications for merit-reviewed research and development grants to institutions of higher education and federal laboratories. The first submission must include comparable record-level data for the five previous years.

The NSF shall publish statistical summaries of the data in conjunction with the required biennial reports on the participation of men and women in scientific and engineering positions.