On July 31, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 217-197 to approve a six-bill package including the Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water, Financial Services, Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development spending bills. Information about the provisions included in these bills can be found here.
On July 24, 2020, the House voted 224-189 to pass a four-bill package including the Agriculture, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and State-Foreign Operations spending bills.
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.”
On June 24, 2020, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced bipartisan legislation to provide emergency relief appropriations for federal science agencies to support the research community during the ongoing public health crisis.
The Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act (H.R. 7308), sponsored by Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), Fred Upton (R-MI), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Frank Lucas (R-OK), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), would authorize approximately $26 billion in supplemental funding for federal research agencies to be awarded to research universities, independent institutions, and national laboratories to address the COVID-19 related disruption to federally funded research.
The $26 billion in relief funding would be allocated to federal departments and agencies as follows:
- $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health
- $3 billion for the National Science Foundation
- $2 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- $5 billion for the Department of Energy, of which $3 billion would be available for the Office of Science
- $300 million for the U.S. Geological Survey within Department of the Interior
- $3 billion for the Department of Defense
- $650 million for the Department of Commerce, of which $350 million would be directed to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and $300 million to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
- $380 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture
- $200 million for the Department of Education
- $200 million for the Environmental Protection Agency
The measure would also provide temporary regulatory flexibility until universities and nonprofit research institutes can safely reopen federally-funded research laboratories, allowing graduate students, postdocs, principal investigators, technical support staff, and other research personnel to continue to receive salaries while research activities have been disrupted. According to Representative DeGette, these funds could enable researchers “to complete work that was disrupted by COVID-19, or extend the training or employment of researchers on an existing research project for up to two years because of the disruption of the job market.”
“These researchers are essential to our nation’s public health, national security, economic growth and international competitiveness,” stated the lawmakers. “Preserving our scientific infrastructure and protecting our innovation pipeline will help ensure U.S. leadership in the world and help us better respond to future pandemics.”
Provisions included in the RISE Act are consistent with recommendations made earlier this year by higher education and scientific societies and coalitions, including the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the American Council on Education. These provisions were also endorsed by 181 Representatives and 33 Senators.
The American Institute of Biological Sciences is among more than 250 higher education, research, industry groups, and associations that have endorsed H.R. 7308 so far.
This bill provides Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations for several federal departments and agencies. It includes 4 of the 12 regular FY 2020 appropriations bills for:
- Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
- Financial Services and General Government
- Homeland Security
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
This bill provides Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 appropriations for several federal departments and agencies. It includes 7 of the 12 regular FY 2019 appropriations bills:
- the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019;
- the Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2019;
- the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019;
- the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019;
- the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019;
- the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2019; and
- the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019.
The legislation became Public Law on February 15, 2019. Read more.