For the last two weeks, the Senate has considered Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Todd Young’s (R-IN) technology and competitiveness bill. In a rare, robust amendment process, the formerly titled the Endless Frontier Act (S. 1260) has morphed into a mammoth proposal, including various research and development provisions, as well as defense spending, and initiatives to combat China’s growing economic and geopolitical influence. The legislation has strong bipartisan backing and sits on the verge of winning the necessary 60 votes. On May 28, after a lengthy amendment process, the Senate is expected to vote for final passage.
The legislation would invest in the U.S. research enterprise by funding Department of Energy research labs, the Department of Commerce, and a new directorate at the National Science Foundation. The investments would prioritize developing new technologies and increasing diversity in STEM fields, among other initiatives. Among the amendments still under consideration are a number of proposed changes to foreign gift reporting requirements for higher education institutions. Senators will vote on amendments that would adjust the reporting threshold; how and which gifts institutions document from foreign entities; as well as how the federal government monitors these donations. CGS applauds lawmakers’ efforts to increase federal investment in the research and development enterprise and will keep CGS members apprised of final provisions that impact graduate education and research.
NIH Officials Testify Before Congressional Budget Subcommittees
House appropriators praised the creation of ARPA-H, a proposed biomedical research initiative that would develop technology and advance NIH’s work across all twenty-seven agency centers. NIH Director Francis Collins brought attention to the UNITE Initiative, NIH’s most recent, large-scale effort to combat structural racism in the scientific community, to which CGS submitted comments in April 2021. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) emphasized the need for robust data on all NIH diversity efforts.
Lawmakers in both hearings noted the importance of funding to support scientists whose research was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. To the House subcommittee, Collins advised that future grants go to early career scientists and researchers with a focus on increasing diversity, saying the budget increase would allow the agency to fund more grants. To Senators, Collins added to these statements, saying NIH was able to support young scientists through extended grants and training periods as well as child care services, noting that the proposed increase in funding for FY22 would allow the agency to strengthen and expand assistance programs.
USCIS Nominee Names Visa Backlogs as Top Priority
Department of Education to Hold Public Hearings on Higher Education Regulations
Following the public hearings, the Department will solicit nominations for non-federal negotiators who can serve on the negotiated rulemaking committees, which will convene in late summer 2021. Negotiators are nominated by the public and should be persons or representatives of groups likely to be affected by the regulations, including students, institutions of higher education, lenders, loan servicers, collection agencies, state agencies, and others. A frequently asked questions document on the negotiated rulemaking process is available here.