House Passes FY 2023 Appropriations Bills

On June 20, the House of Representatives passed a package of six bills to fund government agencies for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 on a party-line vote of 220-207. The six-bill package consists of the FY 2023 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (H.R. 8294); Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (H.R. 8239); Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies (H.R.8255); Financial Services and General Government; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (H.R. 8262); and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (H.R. 8238) funding bills.

The House-passed Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill proposes $8 billion for the Department Energy’s Office of Science, $525 million (7 percent) more than Congress appropriated in fiscal year 2022. The Office of Science funds science research across national laboratories, universities, and other research institutions in support of American innovation and the Department’s energy-focused missions. As the nation’s largest supporter of research in the physical sciences, the Department of Energy also prepares graduate students for STEM careers by providing graduate thesis research opportunities at DOE laboratories and other support.

The House-passed Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill proposes $207 million for grants and administration at the National Endowment for the Humanities, which includes $17.5 million for research programs. “In my first fiscal year as Interior Chair, I’m incredibly proud that we were able to make unprecedented investments to fight the climate crisis, return science as the foundation for decision-making, dedicate the highest level of federal funding to the arts and humanities ever and continue our commitment to tribal nations. Supported by President Biden’s ambitious request to increase funding over last year, I’m thrilled we were able to build on those successes in this year’s bill,” Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Chair Chellie Pingree (D-ME) said in a recent press release.

It is unclear when the remaining six funding bills will be voted on in the House, including the FY 2023 Labor-HHS-Education and Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bills. As mentioned in previous Washington Insights & Highlights Newsletters, these bills fund major agencies and programs that impact graduate education. You can view funding for CGS programs of interest here.

The Senate has yet to introduce their bills to fund federal agencies for FY 2023. If they do not pass bills to fund the government by September 30, Congress will have to agree to a continuing resolution.

Senate Action on Competitiveness Legislation

The Senate is currently working on a smaller version of the USICA/America COMPETES bills for potential consideration and passage next week. Now called the CHIPS Act of 2022, the bill provides significant investments that positively impact graduate education. The bill authorizes $81 billion over five years for the National Science Foundation, which is $36 billion over baseline level funding for the agency. Specifically, this bill authorizes $13 billion total for STEM education, including scholarships, fellowships, and traineeships to create workers in critical fields. The authorization bill also increases funding for NSF research activities for universities across the country, including investment in minority serving institutions and emerging research institutions, and by placing the Established Programs to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) states on a path to receive 20 percent of funding in key accounts by fiscal year 2029.

The bill also provides significant investments to the Department of Energy Office of Science as well, including authorizing $87 million through fiscal year 2027 for the Computational Science Graduate Fellowship.

Federal Judge Blocks Title IX Guidance for Transgender Students

On July 15, Federal District Court Judge Charles Atchley for the Eastern District of Tennessee issued a temporary injunction blocking the Department of Education’s Title IX guidance that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. As plaintiffs in this injunction, the State of Tennessee and 19 other states argued that the Title IX guidance “directly interferes with and threatens plaintiff states’ ability to continue enforcing their state laws, and that the guidance puts substantial pressure on the states to change state laws or risk losing federal funding.” Specifically, these plaintiff states argued that the “Department of Education guidance on Title IX interferes with their ability to enforce laws that prohibit transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms or playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.” The temporary injunction only applies to the 20 plaintiff states. According to LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, universities in these states can still establish policies to protect transgender students on campus.

CGS Thanks Co-Chairs of GRAD Caucus

On July 19, CGS President Suzanne Ortega sent a letter to the four co-chairs of the newly established  Graduate Research and Development (GRAD) Caucus to thank them for their support of graduate researchers. This bipartisan caucus is co-chaired by Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Stephanie Bice (R-OK). We write in our letter, “In our view, it is of utmost importance to support and develop graduate researchers through mentorship and advising, ensuring the accessibility of graduate school for all, and expanding pathways for graduate researchers to succeed through fellowships and career development opportunities. CGS and our member institutions appreciate the establishment of a congressional caucus that recognizes and supports the important work and contributions that graduate students make every day in research laboratories across the country.”

NSF Applications for Graduate Research Fellowship Program Now Open

The National Science Foundation just released a solicitation for applications for the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) for fiscal year 2023. Application deadlines range from October 17-21, 2022, depending on academic discipline. The purpose of the program is to help ensure the quality, vitality, and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program supports graduate students who are pursuing full-time research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in STEM.

The GRFP provides three years of support over a five-year fellowship period for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in STEM or STEM education. For each of the three years of support, NSF provides a $37,000 stipend and $12,000 cost of education allowance to the graduate degree-granting institution of higher education for each Fellow who uses the support in a fellowship year. President Biden’s FY 2023 Budget Request proposed $355.5 million for the program, $59.5 million more than Congress enacted in fiscal year 2022. The House of Representatives has proposed $320 million for the program in fiscal year 2023.