The Department of Health and Human Services has created an office to coordinate distribution of $137 billion provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. HHS to date has distributed $3.3 billion in Recovery Act funds to states for Medicaid. For more on HHS activities funded through the Recovery Act, visit www.hhs.gov/recovery.
The FY09 omnibus appropriations bill was signed into law today, following a 62-35 Senate vote last night and a statement by President Obama that the earmark process needs to be reformed during the FY10 appropriations process. According to the President, many congressionally directed appropriations (also known as earmarks) serve legitimate public needs, but a few suspect projects have brought about a negative view of the practice. Most of the President’s suggestions on earmark reform center around transparency, like requiring Members of Congress to publically post their earmark requests on a website. Additionally, the President stated that earmarks directed to private for-profit organizations should be subject to the same competitive bidding process as other federal contracts. It is expected, as stated recently by the President’s budget chief Peter Orszag, that future appropriations bills will have fewer requests for earmarks. (more…)
Yesterday, President Obama lifted a ban on the use of federal funds for research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 2001. The executive order directs the National Institutes of Health to develop appropriate guidelines for the research. President Obama’s decision reverses the order issued by President Bush on August 9, 2001, which limited federal research funding to embryonic stem cell lines already in existence on that date. The new order does not lift the congressional ban on the use of federal funds to create new embryonic stem cell lines, but it does allow scientists to use federal funding to study the hundreds of new cell lines that have been created since 2001. (more…)
The Senate will vote Monday evening on amendments to the fiscal 2009 omnibus spending package, with a new goal of finishing the bill by Tuesday.
The Senate Finance Committee holds confirmation hearings on the nomination of Ron Kirk to be U.S. trade representative.
Later in the week, the Senate may turn to a House-passed bill of mortgage-related provisions, and the House may try to return to a postponed bill to expand House membership for the District of Columbia and Utah.
The Office of Federal Relations has drafted an overview of the research funding provided in the various funding vehicles (i.e. FY09/FY10/FY11 appropriations, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) currently circulating in Congress and/or the federal agencies. Please contact the Office of Federal Relations with any questions on the document.
Department of Education Press Release
FOR RELEASE: March 7, 2009
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that $44 billion in stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will be available to states in the next 30 to 45 days. The first round of funding will help avert hundreds of thousands of estimated teacher layoffs in schools and school districts while driving crucial education improvements, reforms, and results for students.
“These funds will be distributed as quickly as possible to save and create jobs and improve education, and will be invested as transparently as possible so we can measure the impact in the classroom,” said Duncan. “Strict reporting requirements will ensure that Americans know exactly how their money is being spent and how their schools are being improved.”
Guidelines posted by Duncan today authorize the release this month of half the Title I, Part A stimulus funds, amounting to $5 billion, and half the funds for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $6 billion, without new applications. (more…)
On March 5th, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made available on its website additional information and announcements about grant opportunities created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The announcements and background information are posted on the NIH ARRA website.
The Senate was unable to pass the FY’09 Omnibus bill last night and now plans to approve a short-term continuing resolution (CR) sometime today. The current CR expires midnight tonight (March 6). The new CR is expected to run through midnight Tuesday, by which time Democratic leaders hope to clear the nine-bill, $410 billion spending package. Republican leaders say they are trying to whittle down their amendments to 10 or 12, and Reid said votes on amendments are expected to resume Monday evening. A series of Republican amendments this week to cut the bill’s spending and eliminate or reduce earmarks were all rejected, and Republicans are now focusing on policy amendments intended to force Democrats to take politically difficult votes.
Meanwhile, House Leadership on Thursday reiterated that the House would not accept any amendments from the Senate. No amendments have yet been approved in the Senate, and Senate Democrats have been vigorously opposing all amendments. House Leadership also vowed to work with President Obama to examine and improve the congressional earmarking process.
On March 3rd, the House and Senate judiciary committees introduced bipartisan patent reform legislation. The legislation has been considered by the previous two Congresses with little result to date. The Patent Reform Act of 2009 was introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and by Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Lamar Smith (R-TX).
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the measure on March 10; no House Judiciary Committee hearing has been scheduled to date by Chairman Conyers.
Some initial observations from the Association of American Universities include:
- The damages language appears to be placeholder language. It is the language from S. 1145, the bill approved last session by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had little prospect of broad acceptance.
- Inequitable conduct language has been omitted, although Senator Hatch is expected to seek to reinstate language modifying current inequitable conduct provisions.
- The new bill eliminates the requirement that all applications be published 18 months after their effective filing date, a provision recommended by the National Academies and supported by the higher education associations.
- On the issue of post-grant “second window,” the bill adopts the treatment contained in H.R. 1908, the patent reform bill approved by the House last session. Instead of a post-grant second window, the new bill includes the improved inter partes re-examination procedure of H.R. 1908, which was endorsed by the higher education associations.
- The applicant quality submissions provision, which required mandatory submission by patent applicants of prior art and other material relevant to patentability, has been omitted. This provision was opposed by virtually all sectors of the patent community.
Several federal agencies have created websites that will be utilized to provide guidelines/ updates on American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funding. See below for access.
National Institutes of Health
Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research
Review Criteria and Processes for Recovery Act Funds