Underwood’s Future Advancement of Academic Nursing Act Advances Out of Energy and Commerce Committee as Part of the Build Back Better Act

September 15, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON—This week, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood’s (IL-14) legislation to make a historic investment in the U.S. nursing workforce passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The Future Advancement of Academic Nursing (FAAN) Act (H.R. 851) has advanced as part of the Build Back Better Act and would address the crisis of nurse staffing shortages that has impacted communities across the United States throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Underwood’s legislation would make a $1 billion investment in schools of nursing to bolster nursing education and address current and future nursing shortages. 


“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, America has seen how critical nurses are to our communities—providing excellent clinical care, conducting important research, and carrying out public health initiatives that keep families safe and healthy. But we also know that America has under-invested in our nursing workforce for far too long,” said Rep. Underwood. “As a registered nurse, I’m proud to be the lead sponsor of the FAAN Act, which makes the investments that will be needed to meet the need for nurses during this pandemic and beyond. I thank Chairman Pallone for prioritizing my legislation and I look forward to working with Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Senator Jeff Merkley, and other nursing champions in Congress to get this critical legislation in the Build Back Better Act passed and signed into law.” 


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States faced a large and growing shortage of nurses: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that approximately 200,000 additional openings for registered nurses would need to be filled each year between 2020 and 2030. With an aging population that will require higher levels of medical attention and rising rates of chronic conditions across all age groups, nurses will be needed in greater numbers than ever before in the years to come. Layered on top of these trends are the significant workforce strains from COVID-19, which has pushed health care systems and professionals to their limits. 


Underwood’s FAAN Act would invest $1 billion in schools of nursing to enhance student and faculty enrollment and retention, improve educational programs, and expand clinical education opportunities with local health care partners. The legislation is co-led by Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). More than 50 nursing organizations signed onto a letter in support of including the FAAN Act in upcoming legislative packages in Congress. 


“Nurses continue to be on the front lines of our major public health battles, often times without the full support they need,” said Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. “As the husband of a nurse, I’ve seen the sacrifices that are made to care for patients and keep our medical centers up and running, all while putting their lives on the line during a global pandemic, so I’m pleased to see the FANN Act advance to help address crisis-level nurse shortages. We must do everything we can to support our nurses, just as they support each and every one of us.” 


“Keeping Americans healthy must be a top priority as we consider how best to address the nation’s most pressing needs,” said Dr. Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Chair of the AACN Board of Directors. “The FAAN Act is essential to that effort, supports our current and future nursing workforce, and helps ensure all Americans have access to essential health and healthcare services that nurses are best able to provide.”  


“AACN applauds Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and congressional leaders for recognizing the critical need to elevate and support innovation in nursing education, research, and practice,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “With funding to strengthen the nursing workforce, prepare new nurse faculty, infuse technology into curriculum, and facilitate academic-practice partnerships, Congress is strengthening the infrastructure necessary to meet our nation’s diverse healthcare needs.” 


“The American Nurses Association applauds Rep. Lauren Underwood, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and Sen. Jeff Merkley for their continued leadership to advance the Future Advancement of Academic Nursing Act (FAAN). We also thank the members of the Energy & Commerce Committee for including this legislation in the Build Back Better Act and passing it out of the Committee,” said ANA President Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated, underlying, chronic nursing workforce challenges that have persisted for decades including burnout, caused by understaffing, mandatory overtime, and a nursing faculty and staffing shortage. The FAAN Act will do a tremendous job in educating more nurses to enter the workforce and sustain the future of our health care system. And I’m especially pleased with the focus to increase the pipeline of nurses from historically Black colleges and universities, which will help address longstanding health disparities and inequities affecting communities of color.”