Update (March 15): The budget has now been signed into law by US president Joe Biden, according to CBS News, averting a partial government shutdown.
A spending bill passed yesterday by the US House of Representatives will, if enacted, increase the federal research budget and help launch a new health agency, among other initiatives. The plans, described in a 2,741-page document, would end a spending freeze that had prevented agencies from expanding their programs since last fall, Science reports, although some of the increases fall short of scientists’ hopes.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is slated to receive $8.8 billion in 2022, a 4 percent increase on its previous budget. President Joe Biden’s administration had requested a 20 percent increase, according to Science.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will see an overall increase of around 5 percent, to a total budget of $45 billion, Science reports. The bill also provides provisions for a new agency called the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health (ARPA-H), which will be modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Plans for the agency have been controversial, with disagreements arising among lawmakers and researchers about whether ARPA-H should be housed within the NIH or somewhere else. The bill gives the Department of Health and Human Services 30 days to decide where it will be, according to Science.
Beyond national science and health funding, the bill also makes provisions for $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. House Democrats removed a proposed $15.6 billion provision to bolster the national COVID-19 response following opposition in the lead-up to the vote, multiple outlets report. The bill now passes to the Senate.