117th Congress Takes Steps to Pass an Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Early on Tuesday, December 19, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released the Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2617) to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. This omnibus appropriations package includes $858 billion in defense spending and $772.5 billion in non-defense discretionary spending.

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The omnibus appropriations package also includes $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and our NATO allies and $40.6 billion to assist communities across the country recovering from natural disasters.

Higher education programs within the Department of Education will receive a 17.7 percent increase in funding from FY 2022, including an increase in the maximum Pell Grant award by $500 to $7,395 for the 2023-2024 school year, $1.2 billion for TRIO programs, which includes the Ronald E. McNair Scholarship, and $1.02 billion in funding to assist Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, and Hispanic Serving Institutions. The omnibus appropriations package also includes $111 million for Department of Education programs designed to increase the availability of mental health services in schools, including expanding training programs to prepare new school counselors, social workers and psychologists.

The omnibus appropriations package includes significant increases for the nation’s science agencies. Specifically, the appropriations package calls for $47.5 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health, which is a 5.6 percent increase over FY 2022 funding levels. For the National Science Foundation, the package includes $9.9 billion, which is an historic increase of 12 percent. This level of funding will support approximately 2,300 additional research and education grants and 35,000 scientists, technicians, teachers, and students compared to fiscal year 2022. For the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the package includes $8.1 billion in funding, which is an increase of 8.4 percent over FY 2022. You can view an updated FY 2023 Funding for CGS Programs of Interest document here. Congress is set to vote on the omnibus appropriations package later this week before the continuing resolution expires on December 23.

White House Summit on STEMM Equity and Excellence

Last week, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hosted a summit on STEMM Equity and Excellence. The summit included announcements of actions to eliminate barriers to the science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine ecosystem. Here is OSTP’s Blog on the STEMM Ecosystem.

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) is one federal research agency providing holistic and lifelong support for learners, teachers, workers, and communities to participate in and contribute to science and technology. In this regard, NSF recently announced a program solicitation for the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Technology (S-STEM) program, which seeks to increase the number of low-income students who graduate with a S-STEM eligible degree and contribute to the American innovation economy with their STEM knowledge. The annual scholarship amount has been increased to $20,000 per year for graduate students pursuing masters or Ph.Ds. degrees in eligible disciplines. Proposal deadlines are due in March 2023 and February 2024. NSF also launched the Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students (INTERN) program to annually support hundreds of thousands of graduate students training in semiconductor and microelectronics research and development.  NSF recently appointed Charles “Chuck” Barber to serve as chief diversity and inclusion officer responsible for providing vision, strategic leadership and management for ongoing agency programs and new initiatives related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. You can read more about Mr. Barber here.

National Defense Authorization Act Includes Graduate Education Provisions

On Thursday, December 14, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 by a vote of 83-11. The House passed the legislation on December 8 after the House and Senate authorizing committees released text of the agreement on December 6. The bill text,  explanatory statement, and executive summary of the NDAA can be found here. On December 14, CGS and 16 other higher education associations sent a letter in support of provisions in the NDAA that supports the research capability and STEM workforces at historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Minority Serving Institutions.

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Some provisions in the NDAA that impact graduate education include:

  • Establishing an intelligence scholars program to provide scholarships to graduate students studying in mission critical fields in exchange for a commitment to work in the intelligence community.
  • Directing the Secretary of the Army to report on opportunities to develop pilot graduate degree and certificate programs to staff and sustain the Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) performance teams, and the feasibility of developing a pilot program for Army personnel to address musculoskeletal injuries.

Growing Access to Opportunity with the Launch of DOE STEM

The Department of Energy recently launched a new website for workforce training and learning opportunities. DOE STEM will grow awareness and improve accessibility for DOE-sponsored STEM opportunities, resources, and information. This includes a search function of STEM opportunities for graduate students which can be found here.

NIH Grants Conference

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will host a virtual grants conference on February 1 and 2, 2023. The conference is targeted to individuals new to NIH grants and/or looking to better understand the processes and policies behind NIH funding. During the event, experts will share policies, resources, guidance, and case studies. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Michael S. Lauer, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research. You can view the agenda and register for the event here.