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House Passes “Build Back Better” Package

After months of intraparty discord among Democrats, both within the House and between chambers, the House passed early this morning the “Build Back Better” reconciliation package.  The House cleared the measure by a vote of 220 – 213, with one Democrat voting against it.  The vote was delayed to this morning after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) spoke for more than eight hours against the package, lasting into the very early hours of this morning.

The package now goes to the Senate, where changes are likely, as at least one Democrat in that chamber has made clear his reservations about several parts of the House bill.

Read more about the vote and the next steps here and here.

PCAST Public Meeting: Join November 29th

The Department of Energy will host a public hearing of the Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) at 12:15pm ET on November 29th. PCAST is consulted on and provides analyses and recommendations concerning a wide range of issues where understanding of science, technology, and innovation may bear on the policy choices before the President.

PCAST will hear from invited speakers on and discuss various aspects of biomanufacturing, the Federal science and technology workforce, and the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Additional information and the meeting agenda, including any changes that arise, will be posted on the PCAST website at:​PCAST/​meetings.

View the Federal Register Notice here.



It’s “Infrastructure Week”– Infrastructure Bill Officially Signed

With more than 800 guests in attendance at the White House, President Biden officially signed into law yesterday the $1.2-trillion infrastructure legislation.  The signing ceremony became possible after Democrats were able to come to an agreement on how to proceed on it and the reconciliation package and the House cleared the infrastructure bill before leaving town for Veterans Day last week.

Read more about the signing event here and here.

Finally, We Have the Details

Shortly after the release of the framework earlier this morning, the actual text of the reconciliation bill that will be voted on was made public this afternoon.  The nearly 1,700-page bill is available here.

Although the Office of Federal Relations is in the process of analyzing the legislation, a number of details and themes have emerged.  For example, it is clear that climate change and climate and environmental science receive plenty of attention and resources in the bill, including proposals that would be of interest to UW and other universities.

They include, but are not limited to:

  • $6 billion for NOAA to address coastal and marine habitats and resources.
  • $500 million at NSF for research related to climate change
  • $500 million for fisheries and marine mammal management, conservation, and stock assessments at NOAA
  • $200 million at NOAA OAR for weather and climate forecasting and $100 million for climate research related to weather, ocean, and coastal processes
  • $100 million for climate information dissemination and $20 million for climate education at NOAA
  • $50 million for Climate Adaptation Science Centers at USGS
  • $500 million for wildfire management at Department of Interior through the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, including funds for science and research.
  • NASA would receive $85 million for R&D on seasonal-to-seasonal forecasting and climate-related science, $25 million for wildfire support, and $30 million for data management needs related to climate research

The legislation that was finally unveiled today includes funds for other agencies and programs of interest as well.


In addition to the $500 million specifically dedicated for research on climate change at the agency, the bill includes $675 million for NSF for research awards, fellowships, traineeships, and scholarships.  Just as important are the provisions that would fund a new Technology, Innovation, and Partnership (TIP) Directorate at the agency to the tune of $1.52 billion.  The agency would also receive $25 million for research security activities and $55 million to fund cybersecurity education and training activities.

Through the new TIP directorate, the NSF would be expected to allocate $200 million for research capacity building at minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

The bill would provide $200 million for research infrastructure at NSF.  It also would add $200 million to the mid-scale and major research instrumentation programs.  Finally, with respect infrastructure, MSIs would receive up to $100 million for their facilities and instrumentation needs.

Department of Energy

The Office of Science would see an infusion of $985 million while the programs funded through Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would receive $1 billion.

Department of Education

Ultimately, the negotiators on the legislation decided to include an increase of $550 in the Pell Grant maximum.  The bill would also allow DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) students to become eligible for federal student aid, including Pell.

The bill also addresses the lack of teachers and school leaders by creating a “Grow Your Own” program that would increase the number of teachers and school leaders in high need locations, subject areas, and schools by allocating $112 million for the effort.  A new teacher residency program would also receive $112 million.

States, systems of higher education, and tribal colleges would be eligible to apply for grants from a new Retention and Completion Grant program.  This is slated for $500 million and would come to an end in 2030.

MSIs would receive a total of $6 billion for institutional aid through the bill.  In addition to institutional aid, MSIs would also receive a total of $3 billion for R&D infrastructure from Education.  The R&D funds would be used for planning and/or implementation grants by institutions.

The Office of Federal Research will provide additional details after further analysis.

Announcement: Federal Relations Autumn 2021 Town Hall

Please join us for the inaugural quarterly Federal Relations Town Hall.

Thursday, October 21st at 12:00pm PT

After a presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions or offer comments/concerns regarding the UW’s federal advocacy priorities.

If you would like to join in-person, please RSVP here. Space is limited.

If you would like to join via Zoom, please register here.

This event is restricted to members of the UW community. A valid Net-ID is required to participate.