Winter 2021
2021 Omnibus Spending and Covid-19 Recovery Bill
On December 27, 2020 former President Trump signed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 omnibus spending and Covid-19 recovery bill into law. This package contained funding for the entire federal government, as well as nearly $1 trillion in additional pandemic relief spending. Here’s what it means for academic veterinary medicine:

About $23 billion in funding is designated to assist higher education. There are some significant higher ed policy changes in the relief bill. It simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, reducing the number of questions from 108 to 36. It also changes the eligibility requirements for Pell Grants, the largest college aid program for low-income students. The changes mean more students are eligible for aid, and more are eligible for the maximum aid award. It also forgives $1.3 billion in capital improvement loans to Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU).

The FY 2021 appropriations package contains good news on several fronts. NIH was funded at $42.9 billion, an increase of $1.25 billion. AFRI (Agriculture and Food Research Initiative) was funded at $435 million, an increase of $10 million. VMLRP (Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program) was funded at $8.5 million, an increase of $500,000. The Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP) was level-funded at $3 million.
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Omnibus Package Includes Language, Action on One Health, AMR
The AAVMC was pleased to see One Health language included in the final Omnibus package. That language can be found here. One Health has been a longtime priority for AAVMC and this was one of our major requests during Advocacy Day in 2020. The language gives the new Agriculture Secretary 120 days to submit a report detailing existing collaborative efforts between the FDA, USDA, and other agencies to prevent and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks in animals and humans, as well as specific activities required to achieve a framework that builds upon, improves, or complements this collaboration.

This may include, but is not limited to, competitive research grant programs; training and support for scientists, first responders, or medical personnel; engagement of nongovernmental entities; and participation in international collaboration and research to assist in establishing a One Health program.

Another AAVMC priority was language regarding antimicrobial resistant bacteria. This language can be found here. The language is also built around a One Health approach and specifically “recognizes the interconnection of human health, animal health, and environmental health, and the threat of novel and emerging zoonotic diseases.”
Engaging with the Biden Administration
The AAVMC is already working with the new administration to create relationships with key individuals and agencies. President Biden has elevated the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to a cabinet level position, and selected Dr. Eric Lander as his choice for Director. The President has also already named and sworn in several key staff level positions at the Department of Education, who we will be working with on a variety of issues for the next four years. That list can be found here.
Biden Administration Extends Student Loan Forbearance

Soon after being sworn in on January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden began signing Executive Orders that will make sweeping changes to immigration, education, defense and other policies. One of those orders was to extend student loan forbearance for an additional eight months.
Election Ushers in Big Changes in Congress as Well
By winning the two contested Georgia Senate seats in the January 5 run-off election, Democrats took control of the Senate, 51-50 with VP Kamala Harris wielding the tie breaking vote. That means key changes in committee and sub-committee leadership. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) will now chair the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, a committee with purview over much of the legislation important to the AAVMC. On the House side, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was reelected Speaker, but Democrats hold a slim 221-211 majority, with 2 seats vacant and one seat (NY-22) still being contested in the courts.
Legislative Agenda Defined for 117th Congress
The AAVMC’s legislative agenda for the 117th Congress has been developed by the Governmental Affairs Office and been endorsed by the board of directors. The document is developed annually in concert with the Advocacy Committee and provides a framework and action plan for the year’s advocacy initiatives. While some details regarding specific funding requests remain unclear as we continue to work with various partners and coalitions, most of the blueprint is complete. The top priorities this year include cultivating support for ongoing pandemic recovery efforts, support for helping recover and rebuild the federal research enterprise, and achieving support for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) and the Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP).
Please contact: AAVMC Governmental Affairs Director Kevin Cain at kcain@aavmc.org or 202-371-9195 (ext. 117) with any comments, questions and suggestions about our program.
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The AAVMC is working hard to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in every dimension of academic veterinary medicine. To foster this goal, the photographs and illustrations which are used in our communications programs are aspirational, and do not necessarily reflect the levels of diversity and inclusion that currently exist.

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