Congress just passed President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal—a once-in-a-generation investment that will create millions of jobs modernizing our infrastructure, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st century. In the weeks ahead, Congress has an opportunity to carry this momentum forward by reaching a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on full-year 2022 appropriations that invest in other key national priorities—from protecting public health, to foundational research and development, to ensuring our national security.
In May, the President put forward a budget proposal that detailed his vision for investing in American workers and families, enhancing our national security, and advancing American leadership abroad. Since then, both the House and Senate majorities have put forward appropriations bills that further these goals. As the next step in the process, the Administration looks forward to seeing a proposal from House and Senate Republicans and to bipartisan negotiations with Congress that result in full-year appropriations that benefit the American people.
Reaching an agreement on appropriations, and avoiding the continuation of 2021 funding levels under a full-year continuing resolution (CR), is critical for priorities including:
Pandemic Response and Other Public Health Initiatives. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills support the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response, improve readiness for future public health crises, and advance cutting-edge health research through investments that:
- Address the current pandemic and prepare for the future. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills would provide at least $1.6 billion more funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), $0.2 billion more funding for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and $0.2 billion more funding for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), compared to continuation of 2021 funding levels under a full-year CR. Without these additional investments, the CDC would be delayed in rebuilding the Nation’s public health infrastructure and workforce; BARDA would not be able to accelerate advanced research and development of vaccines and therapeutics to combat antimicrobial resistance and continuing threats from COVID, as well as future public health challenges; and the SNS would be unable to achieve its stockpiling goals for personal protective equipment and certain medical countermeasures.
- Combat the opioid epidemic. Funding for the State Opioid Response program in the President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills would provide thousands more people access to treatment services during 2022, compared to continuation of 2021 funding levels. Expanding access to evidence-based treatment is critical to addressing the opioid epidemic, which has worsened during the pandemic and contributed to a record 93,000 lives lost in 2020. By the end of 2021, the United States is expected to reach a grim milestone of over 100,000 lives lost to overdoses.
- Address health disparities among American Indians and Alaska Natives. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills provide funding for thousands more inpatient admissions and millions more outpatient visits at Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities, compared to continuing 2021 funding levels, and would allow IHS to fill hundreds of open medical and other staff positions.
- Invest in cutting-edge medical research for cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills would invest at least $2.5 billion in existing NIH research programs, compared to a continuation of 2021 funding levels under a full-year CR, resulting in at least 2,200 more research grants. And they would fund the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), a Presidential initiative with bipartisan support that would speed research to improve the health of all Americans, with an initial focus on cancer and other diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
- End the HIV epidemic. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills would provide at least $267 million in additional resources for CDC, HRSA, Indian Health Services, and NIH programs to address the HIV epidemic, compared to a continuation of 2021 funding levels. These programs ensure equitable access to HIV prevention and care services for communities disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic.
National Security and American Leadership. To confront national security challenges, sustain American competitiveness, and advance American leadership, our Nation needs to target Defense, State, Homeland Security, and other Departments’ resources toward the most urgent needs. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills:
- Ensure defense readiness and modernization. A full-year CR would not only underfund the Department of Defense (DOD) but also misalign billions of dollars in DOD resources in a manner inconsistent with evolving threats and the national security landscape. For instance, a full-year CR would prevent new program starts critical to modernization, adversely impact hypersonic weapons development, and delay over 114 new military construction projects this fiscal year. It would also mean that the 2.7 percent pay increase the President has proposed for military service members would come at the expense of $2 billion in cuts to the rest of the defense budget.
- Strengthen American leadership abroad. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills fund critical increases in foreign assistance targeted at priorities such as protecting global and U.S. health by combatting COVID-19 and other infectious diseases; addressing the generational threat of climate change; and addressing the root causes of irregular migration and revitalizing American leadership in Central America. Compared to a continuation of 2021 funding levels under a full-year CR, they would provide at least $855 million more for global health (including $765 million more for critical global health security efforts), at least $2 billion more for international efforts to combat climate change, and at least $148 million more for Central America. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate bills would also provide increased support for the Development Finance Corporation (DFC), allowing the DFC to offer an alternative to China’s opaque, low-quality financing, increase its investments to combat climate change, promote gender equity, and build 21st century infrastructure.
- Bolster America’s economic competitiveness. Public investments in R&D lay the foundation for the future breakthroughs that over time yield new businesses, new jobs, and more exports. But the United States is one of the few major economies whose public investments in research and development have declined as a percent of GDP in the past 25 years. Countries like China are investing aggressively in R&D, and China now ranks number two in the world in R&D expenditures.The President’s Budget would invest over $13 billion more in research and development, compared to a continuation of 2021 funding levels, strengthening not only our economy but also our global standing.
- The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills provide the resources needed for cybersecurity investments across government. Continuing current funding levels under a full-year CR would not provide any funding for continued efforts to respond to the SolarWinds incident that occurred across government this year. The size and scale of the incident exceeds existing agency budgetary operations and creates an exigent risk for continuing to delay the deployment of capabilities for response and mitigation of those events.
- Support the space program. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills provide the funds needed to keep NASA’s program of lunar exploration on track. Extending current funding levels would disrupt these plans, reduce NASA’s ability to support competition in the human lander program and delay our astronauts’ return to the Moon. A full-year CR would also leave NASA’s science programs $630 million short of the funding they need to continue development of important missions to explore Mars and understand our home planet’s changing climate. Finally, reductions to NASA’s aeronautics research would impact plans to work with U.S. industry to develop quieter and more efficient aircraft.
Education. The President and House and Senate majorities have put forward budget proposals that make vital investments in education to:
- Support students in high-poverty schools. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills all include historic Title I investments in high-poverty schools to provide the resources needed to deliver a quality education to all students. Compared to continuation of 2021 funding levels under a full-year CR, these bills increase Title I by at least $16.6 billion. These resources are badly needed to address learning loss due to the pandemic through initiatives like tutoring and summer learning programs; close gaps in equitable access to rigorous coursework like advanced math and science courses; pay teachers competitively so schools can attract and retain great teachers; and close significant funding gaps between high and low-poverty school districts. Both House and Senate appropriations bills also included an additional at least $370 million, compared to a continuation of current funding levels, to support the expansion and creation of new community schools that provide wraparound services and supports for students and their families.
- Support students with disabilities. Under a full-year CR, the Federal Government would cover a smaller share of the cost of providing special education and related services than it has in any year since 2000. Compared to current funding levels, the President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills provide schools $341 more per student for over 7.6 million students with disabilities, an amount that could support over 42,000 special education teachers. In addition, approximately 10,000 more infants and toddlers with disabilities from underserved communities would receive vital early intervention services that could significantly improve outcomes for children and their families.
- Ensure access to student loans and student aid. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate bills all provide the resources needed to serve close to 18 million students and families applying for federal student aid and about 45 million student loan borrowers. By contrast, a full-year CR would have devasting impacts on Federal Student Aid’s operations. Without additional resources, there could be a significant interruption in loan servicing operations and degradation in service at a critical time when FSA is returning nearly 35 million borrowers to repayment after a nearly two-year pause. A CR could also delay by an entire award year the bipartisan improvements to the Federal student aid application in the FAFSA® Simplification Act.
Core Citizen Services. The budget proposals introduced by House and Senate majorities, like the President’s Budget, reinvest in the core functions of government to improve delivery of services to the American people, including:
- Timely access to Social Security disability benefits. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills would allow the Social Security Administration to better serve the 70 million Americans it reaches, including by speeding processing of disability claims to get benefits into people’s hands more quickly. In contrast, if current funding levels were continued under a full-year CR, the Social Security Administration would likely have to implement a full hiring freeze, leading to an increase in the backlog of disability claims, longer wait times for claimants, and increased time to receive assistance through the 1-800 number. Claimants may have to wait more than six months for a disability determination, nearly 70 percent longer than the average wait times over the past decade, significantly delaying vital services.
- Food safety. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills provide full funding for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Under a full-year CR, USDA will not have the funds to ensure adequate inspector staffing at meat and poultry plants.
- Providing clean air and water and tackling the climate crisis. Alongside the Build Back Better Act and the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, the President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills restore critical capacity needed to protect clean air and water, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis. Compared to current funding levels, they would invest $1.3 billion more in EPA’s operations and environmental justice efforts, and $210 million more in NASA climate science funding.
- Support for our election infrastructure. The President’s Budget and the House and Senate appropriations bills include overdue investments in election infrastructure at or beyond its recommended lifespan and in significant need of an upgrade to ensure security and reliability. Without these resources, election officials would not have access to new Federal grant funds, and would have to rely on state and local budgets to provide basic democratic services for future elections.
Congress has a long history of reaching bipartisan appropriations agreements that benefit the American people and fund critical public health services. Over the coming weeks, lawmakers have an opportunity and obligation to do so again.