Lawmakers are working to revitalize federal funding for U.S. research and development (R&D) through two bipartisan bills, one in each chamber of Congress. Throughout the week of May 17-21, the Senate has considered the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, formerly titled the Endless Frontier Act (S. 1260), which advanced out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on May 13. The bill would invest in a new National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Technology and Innovation; provide funding for the NSF, Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and support the creation of national technology hubs. The updated legislation includes concerning provisions related to higher education, most notably giving the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. the ability to review certain foreign contributions to colleges and universities and language lowering Sec. 117 reporting requirements to capture any foreign gifts more than $50,000. Lawmakers continue to unveil proposed amendments to the legislation, which the Senate will vote on before readying the final bill text. A section-by-section summary of the current U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 is available here.
On May 13, the House Science Research and Technology Subcommittee held a markup for the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act (H.R. 2225), advancing the bill to full committee review. The NSF for the Future Act would increase NSF funding from $8.5 billion annually to $18.3 billion and would fund up to $5 billion for a new Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions by fiscal year 2026. The proposal includes specific provisions related to graduate education, including advancing policies and funding to raise the bar for training, mentoring, and professional development of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The bill would also establish updates to the Graduate Research Fellowship program to address workforce demand, increase the cost of education allowance, and recruit a more diverse pool of applicants. CGS’s endorsement of the bill is available here.
USCIS Funding Opportunity for IHEs to Provide Local Citizenship Preparation Services
“It is critical that we provide immigrants pursuing citizenship and the organizations who help support their efforts with the tools to be successful,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. These services can support Dreamers and immigrant students and scholars, individuals pursuing graduate degrees in the most in-demand sectors of our economy, contributing to life-saving research, and entering the workforce as critical components of our nation’s economic growth. Through this grant opportunity, U.S. colleges and universities can send a clear message inviting these students to continue to serve as essential members of their campuses, communities, and workplaces.
DHS Final Rule Removes Vacated H-1B Visa Rule
Biden Nominations Continue
On May 20, the Senate Commerce Committee advanced Eric Lander’s nomination to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). If confirmed, Lander would be the first director of OSTP to serve at the cabinet-level, a change President Biden made to the position when he took office. More information on Lander’s nomination is available in a previous edition of Washington Insights & Highlights.
On May 13, the White House announced President Biden’s intent to nominate Catherine Lhamon to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education. Currently serving as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for Racial Justice and Equity, she manages the President’s equity policy portfolio. Lhamon previously served as assistant secretary for civil rights in the Obama administration’s Department of Education. Her career includes chairing the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and serving as Legal Affairs Secretary to California Governor Gavin Newsom, among various other roles working in the legal system to uphold civil rights.
CDC Officials Testify Before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
Both witnesses defended the Biden administration’s top-line budgetary request, which would allocate $8.7 billion overall for the CDC and provide the largest discretionary funding increase for the agency in nearly two decades. Lawmakers shared in bipartisan support for funding to strengthen public health infrastructure, combat mental health challenges, alleviate health disparities for minorities, and increase local research funding. The White House anticipates that President Biden will release the full FY22 budget proposal on May 28, including detailed budget requests and funding for specific programs. All CGS FY22 appropriations resources are available here.