Just before the annual August recess, the Senate passed a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure spending package called the INVEST in America Act on a vote of 69 to 30, as well as an outline for a separate $3.5 trillion package along party lines 50-49 that Democrats aim to pass using the budget reconciliation process. Senators will begin work on crafting the legislation for the reconciliation package when they return after Labor Day, but Senators Joe Manchin (R-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) are concerned with the $3.5 trillion proposal. In the House, ten moderate Democrats are also raising flags and pushed back on Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) to get the INVEST in America Act enacted soon and de-link the two packages. The House was already out of session by two weeks when the Senate acted, but cut its recess short, returning on August 23. In a 220-212 party-line vote, the chamber passed the budget resolution that would provide tens of billions of dollars for R&D, technology demonstration projects, and research infrastructure over a multiyear period and includes a nonbinding commitment to vote on the infrastructure bill by September 27 as well as sweeping voting rights legislation named after former civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, which is unlikely to pass in the Senate. The House then left Washington, D.C. until September 20 with plans for a recess through Labor Day weekend then committee work throughout subsequent weeks. On October 1, the new fiscal year starts so Congress will need to pass a stopgap funding bill to avoid a government shutdown and will need to raise the nation’s debt ceiling around the same time as well to avoid a default on federal payment obligations. At this point, House leaders still do not have a plan for how and when to raise the debt ceiling.
On July 13, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced a $3.5 trillion top-line budget deal that was later passed by the chamber on August 11 on strict party lines. The reconciliation process allowed Democrats to pass their budget reconciliation (S.Con.Res.14) with a simple majority – all 50 Senate Democrats plus the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. On August 24, the House passed budget resolution (H.Res.601) with a vote of 220-212. While the details have yet to be determined, the resolution is designed to fund the following with offsets in corporate and income tax reform, IRS tax enforcement, health care savings and a Carbon Polluter Import Fee:
Investments in technology, transportation, plus research, manufacturing, and economic development
Federal vehicle fleet and buildings electrification and cybersecurity infrastructure and border management investments
Native health, education, housing, energy and climate programs and facilities
Upgrades to VA facilities
Only the House has released and passed the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which includes funding for some significant economic development programs. It includes $10.95 billion for the Commerce Department, an increase of $2.03 billion above the FY2021 enacted level. More details can be found here, but some key initiatives include:
The CJS bill also funds the National Science Foundation with $9.63 billion, an increase of $1.15 billion above FY2021, to foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, including climate science and sustainable research in areas including artificial intelligence, quantum information science, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, and other critical areas. Specifically, it funds:
The House released all its appropriations bills before the August recess, passing seven in a consolidated appropriations package (HR 4502) and the Senate hasn’t passed any bills yet. However, the Senate did begin to mark up some bills, passing Agriculture-FDA, Energy & Water, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs out of the full committee in early August. For the first time in 11 years, both chambers are including earmarks for nonprofits in their bills. With 3,000 earmark submissions to the House totaling $6 billion and 8,000 earmark submissions to the Senate totaling twice the House figure, some tough choices are being made. Some details on the Defense House bill and President Biden’s Defense funding requests are below.
House Defense Bill—One of the last bills to move in Congress every year is the Defense Appropriations bill. The House released its version June 29 with a total of $706 billion that includes $166.8 billion for military personnel ($488 million below Biden’s request), $254.3 billion for Operation and Maintenance ($696 million above Biden’s request), $134.3 billion procurement ($2.2 billion above Biden’s request), and $110.4 billion for research ($1.6 billion below Biden’s request). The House Defense bill also funds the Defense Health Programs with $36.7 billion for medical and health care programs and within this total, adds $562.5 million for cancer research.
Biden’s DOD Research Proposal—In May, the Biden administration released its FY2022 budget proposal that asked to increase the DOD’s Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) programs by 3% to $114 billion for FY2022, pushing it past an already historically high level. It also requested the Congress-initiated $15 million for National Security Innovation Capital first established in FY2019 that invests in dual-use hardware startups as a counterweight to venture capital from rival nations be funded with $5 million for FY2022, prioritizing capabilities in “autonomy, communications, power, sensors, and space.” The administration also proposed to cut DOD’s Science and Technology (S&T) budget by 13% to $14.7 billion, close to FY2018’s level. It recommended cutting basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development funding each by double digit percentages, but Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a recent Capitol Hill hearing that this funding level is higher than last year, when DOD sought $14 billion for these activities. DOD may be counting on the fact that Congress has consistently increased appropriations above DOD’s request for early-stage research in recent years. The top priorities for later stage research include “advanced capability enhancers,” which are microelectronics ($2.3 billion and $623 million for its Trusted and Assured Microelectronics programs), hypersonics ($3.8 billion), artificial intelligence ($874 million to fund the more than 600 discrete AI efforts underway across DOD), and 5G telecommunications ($375 million for NextGen and $23 million for Beyond 5G Program).
Biden’s DOD Health Proposal—Funding for the Defense Research Sciences account within DARPA would plummet by 17% to $396 million, which rescinds the hefty increase Congress provided in FY2021. But for biosciences, the Biden budget proposal proposes increasing DARPA’s basic medical research program by 41% to $76 million and to level fund the agency with $3.53 billion.
Biden’s DOD STEM Proposal—Unfortunately, Biden’s Defense budget proposes to cut funding for the National Defense Education Program by $25 million to $112 million. This STEM education resource is responsible for the SMART scholarships-for-service, the Manufacturing Engineering Education Program (MEEP), and outreach activities. While the DOD requests zero funds for MEEP, which previously was funded through congressional direction and in 2020 issued $42 million to nine awardees, it does request increase funding for SMART scholarships from $77 million to $89 million, which it states would increase the annual number of awards made from about 300 to 400.The Defense budget proposal is key in shaping the Senate Defense appropriations bill that is expected to be released this fall.
This month we are focused on innovation! President Biden has set up his team to push forward the new ARPA-H initiative and has begun public and private meetings with stakeholders to gain input and garner support for this $6.5 billion program. Meanwhile Congress has unveiled the Cures 2.0 legislation which tackles some of the biggest challenges to innovation: lack of CMS coverage and appropriate reimbursement, insufficient R&D funding, health inequities, lack of diversity in clinical trial representation and more. See details below.
On June 22, 2021, Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO-01) and Congressman Fred Upton (RMI-06) released draft legislation called Cures 2.0 to build on the success of their previous legislation called the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law in 2016 with overwhelming bipartisan support. The preceding legislation was focused on improving how new drugs and medical innovation are researched and developed in the U.S. and included the Cancer Moonshot Program led by then Vice President Biden. The new Cures 2.0 proposal seeks to improve how those new therapies and innovations are delivered to patients. The proposal will continue to be developed and revised as it moves through Congress.
See full report here: Cures 2.0 Legislation
The Cures 2.0 would Authorize President Biden's Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) initiative and address several areas impacting the delivery of medical innovations to patients with the following actions:
See full report here: Cures 2.0 Components
Cures 2.0 establishes President Biden’s ARPA-H initiative with $6.5 billion. Its mission would be to speed transformational innovation in health research and application and advance the implementation of health breakthroughs. The new ARPA-H would be largely modeled after the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. ARPA-H would aim to accelerate new medical breakthroughs with the intent to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s and other devastating diseases. Specifically, ARPA-H would:
To support additional research, it would provide $25 billion for universities, research institutions, and public laboratories throughout the country to continue their work on thousands of federally funded research projects.
See full report here: ARPA-H Initiative for Medical Research
As we enter these summer months, the House has picked up the pace on appropriations with markups starting now in the various subcommittees. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee's deadlines for each of their subcommittees to receive requests from Senators to submit their requests have either passed or are soon to pass by mid-July. With Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) committed to moving all 12 appropriations bills to the floor before the August recess, it is a frenetic pace in the House that will be followed by Senate markups later in the year, then conference committee negotiations in late fall. All of this work is based on President Biden's FY2022 budget proposal released on May 28.
On May 28, President Biden unveiled his $6 trillion FY2022 budget proposal, following up on his “skinny budget” released on April 15 which G2G summarized previously here. The non-defense discretionary budget is up almost 20% from FY2021, while the defense budget has a 1.7% increase. His proposal also includes the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, the $4 trillion infrastructure, jobs and economic proposal previously announced in the spring and summarized here. See Biden Budget section-by-section analysis
Over the past few months, G2G has been working with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and theirBiomedical Science Initiatives leadership. The OSTPis establishing the framework for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health (ARPA-H) that was included in President Biden’s FY2022 budget. Modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARPA-H would tackle bold challenges requiring large-scale, cross-sector coordination, employing a nontraditional and nimble approach to high-risk research. Specifically, under Director Eric Lander, PhD(from the Broad Institute and MIT who was sworn in as the first Cabinet-level Director of OSTP on June 2) ARPA-H will advance translational science and drive transformational health innovations that tackle gaps in the system and implement health breakthroughs. OSTP has shared that they are working toframethe new ARPA-H office throughstakeholder meetings over the next few months. They are eager for input on how best to implement this initiative, so we will continue to share informationto contribute to this process.
G2G recently engaged with the leadership of the Department of Defense's USAMRDC, Defense Health Agency (DHA)and the Office of the Secretary of Defensepolicy division about how best to bring innovations to the DoD under the new DHA organization. The key to program office engagement or to secureR&D funds, procurement orany DoD collaboration for broad adoption of innovations across the defense enterpriseis showingWarfighter application. The focus on prolonged field care remains a priority despite the extensive work on COVID response. Finally, the DoD is full steam ahead in planning for the annual MHSRS this August 23-26 in Kissimmee, Florida.
In the budget proposal, President Biden attempts to address entitlement needs and deficit control. Some highlights on what his budget would achieve by 2031 include:
The President’s FY22 plan for the next fiscal year provides:
STEM education funding resources are spread across several federal departments and agencies. Here is a quick overview for navigating ways to pursue funding based on FY2021 funding levels. The new administration and many in Congress are focused on advancing funding for science and STEM, so we expect increasing funding for FY2022.
The department has a few programs dedicated to STEM education but funds this work through a range of discretionary and formula-based grant programs. It spent $578 million on STEM education through its discretionary grant programs in FY2020 that included level funding for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers and an $800,000 increase to the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program. To help improve STEM instruction, the Education Innovation and Research program received a $2 million increase for a total of $67 million.
NSF funds the Education and Human Resources Directorate, which supports pedagogy research, fellowships, and capacity-building activities with an increase from $940 million to $968 million last year. NSF received $5 million for the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service, $2 million for the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program, and $1.5 million each for the HBCU Undergraduate, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions programs.
NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement funding rose by $7 million to $127 million with $3 million for the Space Grant program (with at least $760,000 going to each of the 52 participating jurisdictions), $2 million for the Minority University Research and Education Project, and $2 million for NASA’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Also, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate received $45.6 million to support these STEM activities.
DOE’s primary STEM education account, Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, increased from $1 million to $29 million. The Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship Program and the Graduate Student Research Program grew to $14 million and the STEM outreach activities was nearly doubled to $1.5 million.
The National Defense Education Program budget decreased last year from $144 million to $137 million, mostly due to Congressional support waning for the Manufacturing Engineering Education Program. While DOD requested $100 million for NDEP, Congress added $35 million for assorted STEM education and outreach activities and $2 million for civics education. The SMART (Science, Mathematics, And Research for Transformation) scholarship-for-service program received about $77 million.
The $3 million increase to $33 million for NOAA was directed to the José E. Serrano Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions while NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research funded the Sea Grant College Program with a $1 million increase to $75 million in FY2021.