FY 2024 Appropriations Bills Advance in the House
The House Appropriations Committee resumed markups of fiscal year (FY) 2024 spending bills last week following the passage of the debt limit bill.
In addition to raising the debt limit, the debt bill puts limits on federal spending over the next two years. It caps FY 2024 non-defense discretionary spending essentially at FY 2023 levels. However, some House Republicans have been continuing to push for deeper spending cuts by setting the baseline below FY 2022 levels.
The spending allocations approved by the House Appropriations Committee for its 12 subcommittees sets FY 2024 funding targets significantly below the levels permitted under the debt deal. "The Fiscal Responsibility Act set a top-line spending cap -- a ceiling, not a floor -- for fiscal year 2024 bills," argued Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX).
The approved top-line spending allocation for the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill, which includes funding for the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is 29 percent less than FY 2023 levels. The discretionary allocation for the Interior-Environment bill, which funds the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, is 35 percent lower than the current fiscal year. Similarly, the spending limit for the Labor-Health and Human Services bill, which funds the National Institutes of Health, is 29 percent below FY 2023 and the agriculture spending bill's allocation is 30 percent below FY 2023.
The full Appropriations Committee approved its first FY 2024 spending measure, the bill for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, on June 13, and then advanced the agriculture spending bill the following day with cuts to climate change research. Four other spending bills have been approved by their respective subcommittees.
The Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development advanced its spending bill with deep cuts to renewable energy and climate change-related spending. The measure includes $48.9 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE), of which $3 billion would go to its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, a $466 million or 14 percent cut from current levels. DOE's Office of Science would receive a flat budget of $8.1 billion. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would also receive level funding of $470 million. Notably, the bill would make billions of dollars in recissions from the Inflation Reduction Act and block the Biden Administration's Clean Water Act rule.
The Defense, Homeland Security, and Legislative Branch spending bills have also been advanced by their subcommittees and are awaiting consideration by the full committee. The Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee has yet to release its spending bill for FY 2024.
NIH Requests Input on New Foreign Subaward Reporting Requirement
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking public comments on updates to its grants policy guidance that outlines the requirements for consortium or subaward agreements on NIH-funded grants.
The update requires foreign subawardees to provide copies of their lab notebooks, all data, and all documentation that supports the research outcomes at least every six months to the primary recipients of NIH grant funding. The planned effective date of the updated guidance is October 1, 2023, but NIH leadership may decide to modify the guidance based on public input. Deadline to submit comments is July 5, 2023,
Many researchers in the biomedical community are worried that the new requirement will add burdensome paperwork for researchers and damage international research collaborations.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), along with other colleagues from the committee, issued a statement in support of the new requirement, that reads, in part: "The American people deserve to know what research their tax dollars are funding. Further, research integrity and independent verification are critical for the foundations of science, as well as for the NIH to be a good steward of funds." The Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over biomedical research and development, including NIH policies and regulations.
New Head of NSF's BIO Directorate to Start this Week
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced in May that Dr. Susan Marqusee will serve as the next Assistant Director (AD) for the Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO). Dr. Marqusee is set to begin her appointment on June 20, 2023. She will be taking over from Dr. Simon Malcomber, who has been serving in an acting capacity since Dr. Joanne Tornow, the previous BIO AD, retired last fall.
Dr. Marqusee, a biophysical chemist, served as a Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator. From 2010 to 2020, she served as the Director for the California Institute of Quantitative Biosciences at UC Berkeley. Among her numerous awards and honors are the Margaret Dayhoff Award from the Biophysical Society, the William Rose Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award from The Protein Society. She is a fellow of both the Biophysical Society and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. Marqusee earned her bachelor's in physics and chemistry from Cornell University. She received a doctorate in biochemistry and a medical degree from Stanford University.
NIH Seeks Comments on Novel Alternative Methods to Advance Biomedical Research
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is requesting public input on challenges and opportunities for the further development and use of novel alternative methods (NAMs) in biomedical research. Comments are sought on:
- The use of NAMs to study human biology, circuits, systems, and disease states.
Approaches for catalyzing the development and validation of NAM technologies.
- Strategies for maximizing the research value of NAM technologies.
Input received from this request will inform the NIH and the development of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director's (ACD) recommendations on high-priority areas for future investment in NAMs. Comments can be submitted online until August 16, 2023.
Additionally, the ACD Working Group on Novel Alternative Methods will be holding an expert workshop on August 21, 2023. The agenda and videocast information will be available later this summer.
AIBS Joins Letter in Support of Dr. Monica Bertagnolli's Nomination to Lead NIH
The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) was among 115 organizations that sent a letter to Congress expressing support for President Biden's nomination of Dr. Monica Bertagnolli as the next Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and urging her rapid confirmation.
"Dr. Bertagnolli is exceptionally qualified and the ideal candidate to lead the NIH today in expanding and strengthening its role supporting research fundamental to overcoming diseases that rob the American people of hope, capacity, and time," noted the letter addressed to Senate leadership as well as the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. "As a leading scientist, clinical trialist, physician, and surgeon -- and a patient herself -- Dr. Bertagnolli genuinely understands the intricacies and personal impact of medical research."
Read the letter.
AIBS Signs Letter Opposing Cuts to Climate Research in Agriculture Spending Bill
AIBS joined more than 50 organizations in sending a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to protect publicly funded agriculture research, especially funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's climate change research.
"Over the last several decades, publicly funded agricultural research has led to the advancement of countless innovative techniques and practices that have helped farmers across the country increase their profitability and sustainability," the groups argued. "All farmers need access to high-quality research; and investing in research at the intersection of agriculture and climate change is critical to both short-term and long-term efforts to protect the viability of the agricultural industry."
The letter, sent on June 9, urged the House Appropriations Committee to reject the proposed cuts to climate change programs in the fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill for agriculture. On June 14, the panel voted to pass the measure with cuts to climate research.
Meet with Your Lawmakers This Summer and Help Inform Science Policy
The American Institute of Biological Sciences is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 2023 Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event.
Now in its 14th year, this national initiative is an opportunity for biologists across the country to meet with their federal or state elected officials to showcase the people, facilities, and equipment that are required to support and conduct scientific research. This initiative helps to put a face on science and to remind lawmakers that science is happening in their district and state.
The Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event enables scientists, graduate students, representatives of research facilities, and people affiliated with scientific collections to meet with their federal or state elected officials without traveling to Washington, DC. Participating scientists can meet with their elected officials at the local district office, virtually, or may invite them to visit their research facility.
"I am grateful for the experience, which has enriched my professional development. I am particularly pleased to think that we started a conversation with Rep. Joyce Beatty's office that will continue in the future. I encourage everyone to reach out beyond their scientific community, which includes explaining your science to your district offices."
- Coralie Farinas, Graduate Student, Ohio State University
AIBS will once again organize the event this summer and fall in a hybrid format, with options for both virtual as well as in-person meetings and tours. AIBS will schedule participants' meetings with lawmakers and will prepare participants through online training and one-on-one support. Meetings will take place mid-July through October, depending on the participant's schedule and their lawmaker's availability.
This event is made possible by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, with the support of event sponsors American Society of Primatologists, American Society of Plant Taxonomists, Botanical Society of America, Natural Science Collections Alliance, Organization of Biological Field Stations, Paleontological Society, and Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.
Registration for participation is free, but required and closes on July 14, 2023. To learn more and register, visit io.aibs.org/cdv.
Enter the 13th Annual Faces of Biology Photo Contest
Enter the Faces of Biology Photo Contest for a chance to win $250 and to have your photo appear on the cover of the journal BioScience.
The competition recognizes scientists who use imagery to communicate aspects of biological research to the public and policymakers. Once again, this year's competition is sponsored by the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in addition to the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).
"Photography is one of many excellent tools scientists have to showcase their work to new audiences, including policymakers and the public," said Scott Glisson, CEO of AIBS. "AIBS remains committed to strengthening scientists' ability to communicate with broad audiences. An important part of that effort has been supporting this artful approach to sharing their research."
The theme of the contest is "Faces of Biology." Photographs entered into the competition must depict a person, such as a scientist, technician, or student, engaging in biological research. The depicted research may occur outside, in a lab, with a natural history collection, on a computer, in a classroom, or elsewhere.
The winning photos from the 2022 contest were featured in the April 2023 issue of BioScience.
Submissions must be received by 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time on September 30, 2023. For more information or to enter the contest, visit our website.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has extended the comment period for a controversial proposed rule that would designate conservation as a formal use of public lands, on equal footing with energy development, grazing, and recreation. If finalized, the draft rule would lead to a landmark shift in how the agency manages public lands. The new deadline to provide comments is July 5, 2023.
Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK), has introduced a bill (R. 3980) to separate the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from the Commerce Department and make it an independent agency. At a recent hearing, three former NOAA Administrators endorsed the idea saying this would streamline operations, strengthen scientific integrity, and facilitate important partnerships with private entities.
A new committee for the 2025-2035 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences for the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been tasked to advise the NSF's Division on Ocean Sciences on forward-looking approaches to guide investments in research, infrastructure, and workforce development and develop a strategy to advance understanding of the ocean's role in the sustainable blue economy. The first public meeting of the committee will be held in a hybrid format on June 21-22, 2023. The public is encouraged to register and attend.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) is holding a public meeting of its Committee on Exploring Linkages Between Soil Health and Human Health on June 22, 2023, from 1:00-4:30 PM ET. The meeting is part of the committee's study process to examine the state of knowledge on linkages between soil health and human health. Invited presentations will focus on possible pathways by which soil health influences human health and connections of soil, plant, and human microbiomes. The meeting will be held in a hybrid format, with the in-person portion of the meeting taking place in Washington, D.C. Learn more.
From the Federal Register
The following items appeared in the Federal Register from June 5 to 16, 2023.
Agency for International Development
Environmental Protection Agency
Health and Human Services