Biden’s Budget Proposals for Science, Tech, and Humanities

By Nate Delesline III

Published on June 30, 2021

Biden’s Budget Proposals for Science, Tech, and Humanities

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President Joe Biden's $6 trillion federal budget for the 2022 fiscal year includes large investments in K-12 and higher education, transportation, healthcare, and the environment.

$14 billion$36.5 billion$15.2 billion

The Biden budget proposal includes $14 billion more initiatives to address climate change, $11.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, $800 billion in new spending and tax breaks to advance clean energy technologies, $36.5 billion for high-poverty K-12 schools — a $20 billion increase from the last budget year. The budget also includes $11.9 billion in money to expand Head Start, an increase of $1.2 billion.

The 2022 presidential budget also includes $8.7 billion for the Centers for Disease Control. The money would "restore capacity at the world's preeminent public health agency," according to a White House budget document. The Biden administration also proposes spending $6.5 billion to start the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. The organization would focus on healthcare-oriented research and development of health breakthroughs in cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.

As a result of substantial existing federal debt, followed by the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Congressional Budget Office predicted in 2020 that federal debt will likely exceed the value of the entire U.S. economy by 2023.

President Biden wants to pay for his budget initiatives by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The budget anticipates $4.17 trillion in revenue and a $1.84 trillion deficit, an increase from the 2019 budget deficit of $984 billion. Although the 2022 federal budget would increase spending by 5% from 2021 levels — about $300 billion — the proposed spending plan still "is the biggest budget in recent history."

Higher Education Budget Priorities


Higher education spending comprises a large part of President Biden's proposed budget. The president calls out the importance of education funding in his budget message to Congress. President Biden notes that his plan "guarantees four additional years of education for every American, beginning with two years of universal high-quality preschool and two years of free community college."

Read on for some of the higher education initiatives in the Biden budget proposal, as outlined by Inside Higher Education and other sources.

The U.S. Department of Education

The Biden budget proposal would increase federal Department of Education (ED) funding by $30 billion. The president's 2022 budget calls for $102.8 billion to fund the ED's programs.

Free Community College

Biden's American Families Plan would use $123 billion over 10 years to provide first-time students and people seeking certificates with two years of tuition-free community college. The federal government would pay for 75% of this program.

Pell Grants

The budget includes an additional $3 billion to fund Pell Grants, which support undergraduate students with significant financial needs. The money would increase the maximum grant award to $6,495. Grant eligibility would also expand to Dreamers — undocumented children brought to the U.S. by their parents. In almost all cases, grant repayment is not required.

TRIO Programs

Programs under the TRIO umbrella include Upward Bound. All eight federal TRIO programs, which include Veterans Upward Bound, Student Support Services, and the McNair Scholars Program, would receive an additional $200 million.

Community Colleges and HBCUs

The White House budget also includes an additional $600 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), minority-serving institutions, community colleges, tribal colleges, and other low-resourced institutions.

Violence Against Women Act

The Department of Justice would receive $1 billion to support the Violence Against Women Act programs. The funding would support women at HBCUs and minority-serving institutions. If approved, the 2022 funding would double the 2021 budget. The legislation was introduction in 1994 to improve local, state, and federal responses to domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault.

Student Debt Cancellation

President Biden's 2022 presidential budget does not include eliminating all student debt. However, since taking office, President Biden has canceled more than $3 billion in student debt for about 1.3 million people since taking office.

Former President Trump and President Biden both stopped student loan repayments during the pandemic. Unless further action is taken, the loan payment freeze will end Oct. 1, 2021.

Science and Technology


$10.2 billion$20 billion

If approved, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) budget would increase 20% to nearly $10.2 billion. That's up $1.7 billion from 2021. Science Magazine reports the additional funding would support creation of a new department tasked with moving research into the marketplace faster. The NSF's workforce and training programs would grow, as would the number of new graduate research fellowships.

President Biden's budget also includes initiatives to attract minority college students to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. The Office of STEM Engagement would receive a $20 million increase to expand initiatives to attract and keep "underserved and underrepresented students" in STEM-related fields. HBCUs would also see investments in workforce development programs, laboratories, and information technology infrastructure.

Budget Priorities for Healthcare


$97.5 billion$10.7 billion$6.5 billion

Medical care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would receive $97.5 billion. This money would support women's health, mental health, and suicide prevention. The proposed budget also seeks $882 million to support medical and prosthetic research, along with advancing the VA's knowledge of traumatic brain injuries, and the effects of exposure to toxins on long-term health outcomes.

The Department of Health and Human Services would receive $10.7 billion to support research, prevention, and treatment services for patients with opioid use disorder, such as expanding the workforce of behavioral health providers.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would receive $3.6 billion. Anticipated user fees of $2.9 billion would give the agency a $6.5 billion budget. That's up 8% from 2021. The FDA's budget priorities include critical health infrastructure, safety programs, and current public health issues.

One of the FDA's focuses includes a request of nearly $76 million to support data modernization. "As witnessed firsthand during the COVID-19 pandemic," the agency said in a statement, "technology has and will continue to revolutionize human and animal health."

More for the Humanities


$178 million

President Biden's budget includes a request for nearly $178 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities. If approved, this would be a 6% increase from the 2021 fiscal year. Most of this money — almost $123 million — would support humanities grant programs.

The organization's Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants program would receive $15.6 million "to help stimulate and match nonfederal donations in support of humanities institutions and organizations."

The National Endowment for the Humanities supports projects and programs in history, literature, archaeology, and languages. Its grants support teaching and learning, research, and cultural resources. Grant recipients include colleges, museums, libraries, and public TV and radio stations.

The Biden administration's approach to the science, tech, and humanities 2022 budget differs significantly from the previous administration, which sought to eliminate the endowment. The funding is "crucial to humanities professors, whose work is on a much smaller scale than their colleagues in the sciences," according to Inside Higher Ed.

What's Next In the Budget Process?


The federal government's fiscal year runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 of the following year. Federal budgets pass through multiple steps before becoming law. President Biden released his 2022 budget May 28. After the president presents the budget to the House and Senate, each chamber of congress drafts a budget resolution to set spending levels.

Then, a committee of House and Senate members work to resolve differences between the two plans. Each chamber then votes on the final plan. Next, House and Senate committees appropriate discretionary spending to 12 subcommittees. Each subcommittee oversees a different group of agencies.

These subcommittees draft legislation, setting funding for each federal agency. Then the full House and Senate vote on their bills. After that, both versions of each bill go to a conference committee, where they're merged. Both chambers vote on the same version of the bill. If approved, the bill goes to the president for a final signature.

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