118th Congress Passes Another Continuing Resolution and Averts a Government Shutdown
Last week, the newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) worked together to pass a clean, short-term continuing resolution (CR) by a vote of 336-95. The Senate also passed the clean CR by a vote of 87-11. President Biden signed the CR into law, so the government will remain open until early next year.
In an unorthodox legislative move, this CR uses a “laddered approach” to funding federal government agencies and operations. Under this CR, federal funding for the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Veterans, and Transportation will last until January 19, 2024. The remaining eight appropriations bills, which fund agencies such as the Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other research agencies will be funded until February 2, 2024. After the Thanksgiving Holiday, Congress is expected to resume its work on the fiscal year 2024 appropriations process. There are two serious issues that must be addressed before a final appropriations package can be passed and enacted into law. First, the topline funding levels for fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills must be agreed upon by the House of Representatives and Senate. Despite the debt ceiling bill that was enacted into law earlier this year, some House Republicans want to fund government agencies at fiscal year 2022 funding levels, rather than the agreed upon fiscal year 2023 levels. Second, Congress must decide if they will include supplemental funding for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and the U.S. border in an appropriations package.
CGS will continue to closely monitor the appropriations process and provide an update in the next Washington Insights and Highlights Newsletter.
National Science Foundation Seeks Public Comment on Public Access Plan 2.0
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking input to identify and address potential barriers faced by researchers in complying with the new public access requirements. The Public Access Plan 2.0 by the NSF outlines measures to ensure open and immediate access to research funded by the agency. Key points of the plan include making peer-reviewed publications freely available in the NSF Public Access Repository without embargo, ensuring accessibility for assistive technologies, sharing scientific data in disciplinary repositories, allowing exceptions based on legal and ethical considerations, and collecting critical information in the NSF Public Access Repository.
Public comments must be submitted by January 2, 2024. For more information about NSF’s Request for Information on the Public Access plan, please read the federal register notice.
U.S. Department of Education Reminds Schools of Their Legal Obligation to Address Discrimination and Harassment
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a press release and factsheet titled “New Tools to Tackle Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Related Forms of Discrimination and Bias.”
In the press release and other documents, the Department of Education encourages college and university leaders to condemn hatred and violence and work towards inclusive campus communities. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to upholding the civil rights of students of all backgrounds,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
The Department of Education is also offering to provide technical assistance webinars on the application of Title VI to discrimination based on race, color, or national origin as described in the letter. To request such training, please contact OCR at OCR@ed.gov.
NEH Launches New Research Initiative Grants on Artificial Intelligence
Recently the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) launched the Humanities Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence initiative, providing funding for various AI-related humanities projects. NEH is interested in projects that research the impacts of AI on “trust, and democracy; safety and security; and privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.” The new grants are in response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence.
The initiative includes funding opportunities such as Humanities Research Centers on Artificial Intelligence, which offers up to $750,000 to establish research centers focusing on the ethical, legal, or societal implications of AI. Institutions can also apply for the NEH grant to host professional development programs on the latest research related to humanistic AI.
Individual scholars or teams can apply for grants like Dangers and Opportunities of Technology: Perspective from the Humanities which examines technology and its relationship to society through the lens of the humanities. Teams interested in an international AI research project or a scholarly conference can apply for the Collaborative Research Grant.