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Science Policy Updates

Looking for highlights from this week in science policy? This page features selections from the AAAS Policy Alert, a weekly e-newsletter which provides an inside look at policies affecting science and technology and the S&T community to AAAS members. AAAS members may sign up to receive the alert on their AAAS Profile in the Contact Preferences Section.

 

Policy Alert

November 9, 2021

BUDGET & FINANCE OUTLOOK

House Adopts Infrastructure Spending

Last week, the House adopted the long-awaited infrastructure package, the first piece of the Democrats’ spending agenda, by a 228-206 vote, with 13 Republicans crossing over to vote in favor of the package. The trillion-dollar infrastructure package includes tens of billions of dollars for energy research, development and demonstration; coastal resilience; and abandoned mine reclamation as well as over $2 billion for an array of Department of Transportation R&D programs like the University Transportation Centers and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Wait Continues for Reconciliation

The second piece of the Democrats’ agenda — the $1.8 trillion reconciliation bill dubbed the Build Back Better Act — continues to await a vote, as moderates say they need to see a Congressional Budget Office cost and deficit analysis before they can vote for it. As reported in previous Policy Alert editions, the package provides billions of dollars in additional funding on top of the yearly budget for research agencies, though  the latest version contains far less than originally proposed. The latest changes include the addition of $100 million for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research infrastructure, among other small tweaks. Even if the package can make it through the House, it will likely undergo yet more revisions during Senate negotiations.

Appropriations Remain at Standstill

Another continuing resolution (CR) could be in our future if appropriations talks do not resume soon, said Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Shelby stated that Republicans will be willing to negotiate if riders are removed, while Leahy criticized Republicans for not negotiating with Democrats on the bills released last month and objected to the use of a full-year CR, which would simply lock in last year’s funding levels, as a means of funding the government. The current stopgap CR extends to December 3