House Passes Infrastructure Legislation

On November 6, the House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) by a vote of 228-206. This $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed the Senate in August 2021. President Biden is scheduled to sign the bill into law on Monday, November 15. In terms of Budget Reconciliation: Build Back Better Act of 2021 (H.R. 5376), the House and Senate Leadership are still in active negotiations with the White House. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) staff are currently preparing a cost estimate for the bill. According to a November 9 blog post, “CBO will start releasing estimates for individual titles of the bill as they complete them.”

Appropriations: Coalition for National Science Funding Letters

On November 2, members of the Coalition for National Science Funding, of which CGS is a longtime member, sent a letter to appropriators regarding support for National Science Foundation (NSF) funding in Fiscal Year 2022. NSF investments are key to bolstering U.S. innovation and competitiveness by funding highly meritorious curiosity-driven research; building and fostering U.S. STEM education and workforce programs; supporting cutting-edge facilities that enable the work of scientists and engineers; and addressing the most pressing issues of our time.

On November 5, CNSF sent another letter to the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy regarding increased funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Fiscal Year 2023. NSF plays a critical role in advancing our nation’s competitiveness and addressing research and education challenges related to many Biden Administration priorities.

Recent Data on Mental Health at Institutions of Higher Education

Inside Higher Ed recently reported on the issue of mental health in higher education, with the article citing data regarding the rising mental health challenges of college students during the pandemic. The Department of Education recently released a fact sheet regarding how to help struggling students, and legislation has been introduced by Congressman David Trone (D-Md-6) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to establish a national commission to study mental health concerns at institutions of higher education. Congressman Trone mentioned in their joint press release, “Untreated mental health issues at a young age can affect folks throughout their entire lifetimes. We must ensure that our colleges and universities are providing top-notch mental health care for students.” Senator Casey stated, “Today’s college students are tomorrow’s leaders, and this legislation is an important step to ensuring students have every opportunity to succeed.” A one-pager on the legislation can be viewed here.

The issue of mental health is critically important to CGS and graduate schools. In April 2021, CGS issued a report titled, “Supporting Graduate Student Mental Health and Well-being: Evidence-Informed Recommendations for the Graduate Community.” More information about the report is available here.

Veterans: Readjustment Counseling Service Scholarship Program

Last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register regarding the Readjustment Counseling Service Scholarship Program (RCSSP). The RCSSP provides educational assistance to individuals who pursue a graduate degree in psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, or mental health counseling to work in Vet Centers.

The RCSSP would assist VA in filling vacancies in Veterans Centers located in areas designated as medically underserved populations and in states with a per capita population of more than five percent veterans, calculated using data from the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics and the Bureau of the Census.

Upcoming Events and Notable Federal Register Notices

The National Institutes of Health will be hosting the NIH Behavioral and Sciences Research Festival on Thursday, November 18 and Friday, November 19. This virtual festival “highlights exciting research results, emerging areas, and innovations in health-related BSSR. This trans-NIH event enables efficient leveraging of NIH resources and expertise. The BSSR-CC members contribute diverse and comprehensive perspectives on the NIH BSSR portfolio, thus facilitating the selection of an outstanding array of research results that are highlighted at the festival.” More information about the festival is available here.