by Jared Gould
The national debt is growing, but Congress’ recent spending bill is a telltale sign that it has no intention of shrinking the deficit.
After receiving bipartisan support in the Senate, the House passed a 1.7 trillion spending bill on December 16, avoiding a government shutdown.
The bill allocates funding mostly to defense, including $45 billion to Ukraine, which will assist the country in its war effort against Russia.
But, the other leading expense item is “$773 billion for domestic programs,” including education programs, according to a TIMES article.
The Pell Grant was among several items that saw changes, increasing funding by $500, now making the maximum Pell Grant award “$7,395,” according to Forbes.
Increasing the Pell Grant follows President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, which plans to forgive up to $20,000 of student loan debt for individuals who received the award.
Student loan relief, however, is currently chilled as it faces several legal obstacles, as Campus Reform previously covered.
Other expenses include “an increase of $137 million or 15% to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, and other historically under-resourced institutions serving a high percentage of low-income college students,” according to the Forbes article.
One of the largest recipients of Congress’ spending bill, however, will be National Science Foundation (NSF), which received a 12% increase above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level, amounting to 7.8 billion in taxpayer dollars going to the foundation.
Allocating funds to NSF, however, raises questions about what will be prioritized by higher educational institutes.
NSF says it is prioritizing “increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in engineering.”
“Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering is essential to the health, security, and prosperity of the United States. NSF is committed to building a diverse and inclusive workforce to increase the Nation’s capacity to perform engineering research and development, enhance innovation, and create new technologies that benefit society,” NSF’s website reads.
Among many of its projects, NSF supports LGBTQ+ Advocacy in STEM, which aims to “diversify the engineering workforce by increasing the participation of LGBTQ+ students and faculty,” as stated on its website.
LGBTQ+ Advocacy in STEM’s communications team was contacted for comment, but Campus Reform has not received a response.
Such prioritization, however, aligns with recent statements made by the Biden White House, which alleges that there are several “structural disadvantages” in STEM that keep minority groups, including LGBTQ+ people, from having careers in the field.
The White House does not cite specific examples of discrimination in the field, however.
Rather the White House only hyperlinks to other White House press releases, which again do not cite examples of LGBTQ+ people being barred from careers in STEM.
The White House announcement entitled “Biden-Harris Administration Announces Historic Actions to Advance National Vision for STEMM Equity and Excellence,” for example, merely quotes Dr. Sudip S. Parikh, Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the Science family of journals who said:
“America’s diverse talent gives us a critical competitive global advantage, but to capitalize on recent investments and meet future demand, we must eliminate systemic barriers that limit who can participate in STEMM.”
But, neither the White House nor Dr. Parikh spoke to the specific barriers they speak of.
In another announcement by The White House, it reads, “Today’s STEMM ecosystem is inequitable by nearly every measure, shutting out and diverting away too many talented individuals, closing off opportunities for discovery and innovation, and limiting our national potential,” but again no specific example of an instance where a member of a minority group being deliberately barred, by reason of sexual preference, skin color, or ethnicity, is listed.
Campus Reform contacted The White House via its contact page, which to submit a question, required Campus Reform to identify its pronouns.
Again, Campus Reform did not receive a response.
The aim of NSF parallels a trend in higher education that Campus Reform has been reporting.
Last week, for example, Campus Reform reported that “CU Boulder recently launched a new ‘Impact Grant’ program to ‘support new and existing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at CU Boulder starting in summer 2023.’”
As the federal government continues to track trends in higher education, taxpayers can expect to see their earnings spent on DEI initiatives. This time, billions were spent.
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Jared Gould serves as News Editor at Campus Reform. Prior to joining our team, Jared worked with former Governor Phil Bryant at Bryant Songy Snell Global Partners, a private government relations and business consulting firm in Ridgeland, Mississippi.
Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Lorie Shaull. CC BY 2.0.