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Explore the most recent news about AIBS's initiatives, programs, resources, and events.

Bullet policy · Mar 13, 2023

Latest Public Policy Report

The Public Policy Report has been released. The report provides analysis and communication on important issues in the scientific community.

In this issue:


The AIBS Public Policy Report is distributed broadly by email every two weeks. Any interested party may self-subscribe to receive these free reports by email.

With proper attribution to AIBS, all material from these reports may be reproduced or forwarded. AIBS staff appreciates receiving copies of materials used. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the AIBS Director of Public Policy, Jyotsna Pandey, at 202-628-1500 x 225.


Biden Requests Significant Boosts for Science in FY 2024

President Joe Biden released his budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2024 last week, once again calling for major investments in climate change, scientific research, and conservation. The budget framework proposes significant budget increases for most federal science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The $6.9 trillion budget proposal includes $1.7 trillion in discretionary spending for FY 2024. Biden proposes $886 billion (+3 percent) for defense discretionary spending and $809 billion (+6 percent) for nondefense discretionary spending—the source for most scientific research programs. Notably, the plan proposes tax increases for wealthy individuals and large corporations that are expected to cut deficits by $3 trillion over the next decade.

In total, a record $210 billion would be directed to Federal research and development activities. The budget outline includes $16.5 billion for climate science and clean energy research and $23 billion for community climate resilience. It would provide almost $21 billion in discretionary spending for CHIPS and Science Act-authorized activities, including $1.2 billion, a 50 percent boost, for the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships at NSF and $300 million for its Regional Innovation Engines program to “galvanize use-inspired research, technology translation, and workforce development.”

Some key items related to science in the budget request include:

  • The President requests a total of $11.3 billion for NSF in FY 2024, a 15 percent increase compared to the total enacted budget of $9.9 billion for the agency in 2023, which included some supplemental funding. The White House, however, labels this as a 19 percent increase, comparing it only to NSF’s regular FY 2023 appropriations.
  • The Department of Energy would receive $52 billion in FY 2024. Of this total, $8.8 billion (+8 percent) is requested for the DOE Office of Science.
  • The request includes $6.8 billion for NOAA, $451 million more than the FY 2023 enacted level.
  • The Administration requests $27.2 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an increase of 7 percent over FY 2023. NASA’s earth science division would grow by nearly 14 percent to $2.5 billion.
  • The National Institutes of Health would get $48.6 billion in FY 2024, a small increase of less than 2 percent compared to FY 2023. Most of this increase would go to the National Cancer Institute.
  • Budget for the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) would grow from $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion to support high-risk, high-reward biomedical research.
  • The Department of the Interior would see its budget grow by 12 percent to $18.9 billion. USGS is slated to receive $1.8 billion, an increase of 19 percent. This includes $395 million for Ecosystems Mission Area, an increase of $88 million or 29 percent relative to FY 2023. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would receive $2.1 billion in discretionary spending, an increase of 18 percent. The National Park Service would be funded at $3.8 billion, an increase of 8 percent compared to FY 2023. The Bureau of Land Management would receive a boost of 9 percent to $1.7 billion.
  • EPA’s budget would get a significant bump of 19 percent to $12 billion in FY 2024.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture would receive a discretionary budget of $30.1 billion, a 14 percent increase relative to FY 2023. This includes a total of more than $4 billion (+$299 million) for agricultural research, education, and outreach. The Agricultural Research Service would be funded at nearly $2 billion (+5 percent) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture would receive $1.9 billion (+9 percent), of which $550 million (+21 percent) would be directed to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Detailed budget requests and priorities for each agency will be released in the coming weeks. The President’s budget request serves as a starting point for congressional debate on FY 2024 appropriations, with the final decisions about spending levels resting with lawmakers. With Republican lawmakers calling for reduced government spending to tackle the rising debt and control of Congress divided between the two parties, the likelihood of the proposed funding increases for science getting funded remains uncertain.

House Science Committee Hearing Examines U.S. Competitiveness

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held its first hearing of the year on February 28. The hearing delved into the current status of U.S. science and technology and the competition for global leadership faced with China.

Witnesses included former White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Kelvin Droegemeier, CEO of the Council on Competitiveness Deborah Wince-Smith, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Kim Bundil, and American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Klon Kitchen.

Among the issues discussed was a provision in the Chips and Science Act that requires the White House to develop a “national science and technology strategy” and review it quadrennially. “The national strategy will ensure that our time, energy, and funding for federal research and development will be focused on the most important challenges facing our country,” said Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK). “And, given the increased funding we’re giving to federal R&D, this strategy is necessary to maximize the return on our investments and make good use of taxpayer dollars.”

The hearing also covered other topics, such as U.S. research and development expenditures, the importance of investing in basic research to spur innovation, strengthening public-private partnerships, diversifying the STEM workforce, as well as addressing threats to research security.

Report Calls for EPA to Apply One Environment-One Health Framework to Research

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provides several actionable recommendations for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) research arm to help the agency achieve its mission of protecting human health and the environment.

EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) develops the agency’s core research capabilities and is charged with providing the scientific bases for its regulatory and public health policies.

The new report, Transforming EPA Science to Meet Today's and Tomorrow's Challenges, calls for the ORD to pursue its scientific goals within the One Environment − One Health framework and to apply a holistic, systems-thinking in all aspects of ORD’s work. According to the report, “One Environment–One Health builds on the strong base built by the public health communities for One Health (which integrates the interactions between human and animal health) but expands it to provide a comprehensive ecological and human framework to enhance ORD’s scientific capability for considering the complex interactions among environmental, social, and economic systems in support of EPA’s mission.”

The report provides several other recommendations on how ORD could incorporate emerging science and systems-thinking into the agency’s research agenda to increase its impact. Notably, it calls on ORD to improve its scientific communications by developing and implementing an organization-wide communications plan to expand awareness and understanding of its scientific results. The report also recommends that ORD expand and strengthen collaboration with its partners, establish shared goals, and enable and foster open innovation toward achieving them.

It concludes by stating that shifting to a systems-thinking approach will require renewed commitment from science leadership, enhanced strategic planning, investment in new and broader expertise and tools, and a reimagined and inclusive commitment to communication and collaboration.

White House Listening Sessions on the Federal STEM Strategic Plan

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is hosting a series of virtual public listening sessions to inform the development of the 2023-2028 Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Strategic Plan. OSTP is seeking input from all interested parties, including students, educators, administrators, parents, researchers, employers, and others. In particular, information and perspectives are sought on the challenges faced by – and within – the STEM ecosystem in the United States and solutions that might be implemented.

The sessions, each focused on a different aspect of the STEM ecosystem, are as follows:

  • STEM Education: Support learners and educators in and across all science and technology disciplines; Wednesday, March 15, 2023 from 3pm-5pm ET
  • STEM Workforce Development: Prepare and recruit our Nation’s future STEM workforce; Friday, March 17, 2023 from 2pm-4pm ET
  • STEM Workforce: Foster inclusive STEM learning and working spaces to retain STEM learners and workers; Monday, March 20, 2023 from 3pm-5pm ET
  • STEM Engagement: Foster meaningful community and public engagement in science and technology; Wednesday, March 22, 2023 from 4pm-6pm ET
  • STEM Research and Innovation Capacity: Build and drive capacity and cutting-edge STEM (and STEM education) research and development; Friday, March 24, 2023 from 2pm-4pm ET
  • The National STEM Ecosystem; Monday, March 27, 2023 from 6pm-8pm ET

Learn more and register. Written comments can be submitted to stemstrategy@ostp.eop.gov.

AIBS Endorses Letter Requesting $8 Billion for Research in Farm Bill

A diverse set of stakeholders, including AIBS, have sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees urging that they support $8 billion in mandatory funding for research in the Farm Bill to “spur scientific breakthroughs, keep pace with our global competitors, modernize facilities, and ensure nutrition security and a sustainable food system.”

The Farm Bill, passed by Congress every five years, is a legislative package that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. The stakeholder letter urges Congress to prioritize robust investments in food and agriculture research, facilities, extension, and education in the next Farm Bill.

The letter notes that federal investments in food and agricultural research in the U.S. has fallen by one third since 2002. At the same time, China’s funding has grown to more than $10 billion – double what the U.S. spends. Additionally, the letter points out that agricultural research infrastructure in the U.S. is in disrepair.

“Without immediate investment in food and agricultural research, we are facing an uncertain future where food and nutrition security is no longer guaranteed,” the stakeholders noted. “The Farm Bill is our opportunity to secure this critical funding before it's too late.”

Last Chance to Register for the 2023 AIBS Congressional Visits Day

Join the American Institute of Biological Sciences on April 24-26, 2023 for our annual Congressional Visits Day in Washington, DC. We are going back to the in-person format in 2023 after holding this event virtually in 2021 and 2022.

Meet with your members of Congress to help them understand the important role the federal government plays in supporting the biological sciences. Advocate for federal investments in biological sciences research supported by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies.

Participants will complete a communications and advocacy training program provided by AIBS that prepares them to be effective advocates for their science. AIBS will provide participants with background information and materials, as well as arrange meetings with lawmakers on April 26.

Who should participate?

Scientists, graduate students, educators, or other science community members who are interested in advocating for scientific research and education are encouraged to participate in this important event.

The ideal participant will:

  • Have an interest in science policy.
  • Work in a scientific profession or be enrolled in graduate school.
  • Be able to speak about the importance of biological research funded by federal agencies (e.g. NSF, NIH, USDA).
  • Provide compelling examples from their own experiences.

Training

The event includes a free, half-day training session on how to be an effective advocate for science policy. This training session will be held on April 25, 2023 and is mandatory for everyone who will be participating in congressional meetings.

Additionally, participants have the option to attend the highly acclaimed AIBS Communications Boot Camp for Scientists. This training course will be held in Washington, DC on April 24-25, 2023. This professional development program provides practical instruction and interactive exercises designed to help scientists (e.g. researchers, graduate students, administrators, educators) translate scientific information for non-technical audiences and to effectively engage with decision-makers and the news media. All participants who complete this optional training will receive priority access to the Congressional Visits Day and a certificate of completion indicating that they have successfully completed 16 hours of communications training. Click here for more information, including cost, for this two-day training program.

Registration

Express your interest in participating in the event by registering. Registration closes on March 13, 2023. Space is limited and we encourage you to register early. If registrations exceed program capacity, AIBS may prioritize registrants based on participation in the boot camp training, geographic diversity, and other factors. Register now.

Short Takes

  • The House of Representatives voted 227-198 to approve a resolution aimed at overturning the Biden Administration’s recent Clean Water Act rulemaking. The resolution would repeal the Biden Administration’s waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) definition, which determines which waterways and wetlands fall under federal protection. The measure will be debated in the Senate this week, where its fate will likely be decided by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). President Biden has threatened to veto the measure if it lands on his desk.
  • Delegates of the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) have agreed on a framework to provide oversight of international waters and preserve marine biodiversity while encouraging research-capacity building among nations. The High Seas Treaty will cover waters outside countries’ national jurisdictions, which extends 200 nautical miles from their shores. It would establish a mechanism to designate marine protected areas and create a scientific and technical body to oversee regulations covering issues such as benefit sharing from marine genetic resources. “We leave here with the ability to create protected areas in the high seas and achieve the ambitious goal of conserving 30 percent of the ocean by 2030,” said Monica Medina, the U.S. State Department’s Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from February 27 to March 10, 2023.

Commerce

Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services

Interior

Marine Mammal Commission

National Science Foundation


The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a non-profit 501(c)3 public charity organization that advances the biological sciences for the benefit of science and society. AIBS works with like-minded organizations, funding agencies, and political entities to promote the use of science to inform decision-making. The organization does this by providing peer-reviewed or vetted information about the biology field and profession and by catalyzing action through building the capacity and the leadership of the community to address matters of common concern.

Founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences, AIBS became an independent, member-governed organization in the 1950s. Today, AIBS has more than 100 member organizations and has a Public Policy Office in Washington, DC. Its staff members work to achieve its mission by publishing the peer-reviewed journal BioScience, by providing scientific peer-review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients, and by collaborating with scientific organizations to advance public policy, education, and the public understanding of science.

Website: www.aibs.org.


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