“The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education’s Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill includes welcome and needed funding increases to support biomedical research, but unfortunately does not provide sufficient support for college access and degree completion.
“APLU commends Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK), Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and the subcommittee for including a $1.25 billion increase for NIH in the measure. After years of flat funding, NIH received an important increase last year and this measure builds on that by providing another boost to the agency charged with helping to unlock cures and treatments for the most devastating diseases and illnesses. Given that the Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved a $2 billion plus-up for NIH, as the process advances, we urge the House to increase funding to the level in the Senate.
“The United States has long held the position as global innovation leader, but that role has begun to erode in recent years as other nations increase their research investments. To be clear, the House is to be commended for seeking to continue the reversal of this trend, but even more support is needed to prevent a U.S. innovation deficit. Public research universities are well positioned across the country to carry out increased federally-funded research to unlock next generation medical advances.
“On the education side, the Pell Grant program is the federal government’s most critical program to help low-income and disadvantaged students afford college and receive the lifelong benefits that come with a higher education. While this bill fulfills the scheduled increase to the maximum Pell award, it does not restore year-round Pell, which is included in the Senate bill. The restoration of year-round Pell would help boost degree completion by enabling students to afford summer classes so they can graduate sooner with less debt and enter the workforce more quickly. Also, we are concerned that the bill reportedly would take over $1 billion from the Pell program to pay for other priorities in the bill.
“The Pell Grant program is critical to helping the U.S. reach its goal of having 60 percent of the working age population hold a post-secondary degree. APLU believes that Congress should not use the Pell surplus for any purpose outside of Pell as the funding is needed to protect the long-term fiscal health of the program. While we understand the difficult financial constraints facing members of the committee as they drafted the bill, we are disappointed by the rescission of Pell surplus funding to pay for other programs in the bill. Tomorrow’s students should not be an offset for priorities outside of the Pell program. We urge Congress to restore the funding as the appropriations process proceeds.
"We look forward to learning more about funding levels of other critical priorities in the appropriations measure once the committee report is released.