APLU responded to several white papers on the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization. The Global Food Security Act, which would authorize and set priorities to combat global food insecurity and includes USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, was introduced in the Senate. The Senate approved the FY2016 Budget Resolution Conference Report, which was previously passed in the House. In addition, the House approved the FY 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.
Community Responses to Senate Education Chair on HEA White Papers
APLU joined the higher education community response letters to the white papers on accreditation reform and institutional risk sharing released by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN).The white papers were issued in late March in anticipation of the upcoming reauthorization of the HEA to garner feedback and input for the legislation. The community comment letter on accreditation reform can be found here and the community comment letter on institutional risk sharing can be found here.
APLU had previously responded to several other white papers.
Senators Casey and Isakson Introduce Global Food Security Act
Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced the Senate version of the Global Food Security Act (S.1252). This legislation authorizes and sets priorities for a comprehensive foreign assistance program to combat global food insecurity, such as Feed the Future. Of particular interest to universities, APLU was successful in having language included related to agricultural research, including the Feed the Future Innovation Labs, as well as partnerships between U.S. and developing nation institutions of higher education. The bill is a five year authorization at FY2014 funding levels.
As you may recall, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed the Global Food Security Act (H.R.1567) last month. The House bill is a one year authorization.
APLU previously signed onto a coalition letter in support of the legislation. A copy of the letter can be found here.
Senate Approves FY2016 Budget Resolution Agreement
The Senate approved the House-passed FY2016 Budget Resolution Concurrent Resolution by a vote of 51 to 48. This agreement does not require President Obama’s signature and does not carry the force of law. The agreement outlines more than $5 trillion in new spending cuts over 10 years. For the non-defense discretionary (NDD) side of the budget, it maintains the FY2016 sequester-level cap. However, beginning in FY2017 through FY2025, the NDD accounts would be cut below the sequester-level caps, cutting NDD by an additional $496 billion over the nine years.
The agreement includes the creation of several Deficit-Neutral Reserve Funds (DNRF). A DNRF is a budget maneuver that allows members of Congress to express support for increased funding for specific programs or areas without specifying where the offsets to pay for those increases would come from. Encouragingly, the agreement included a DNRF to support biomedical research (Sec. 4408) and another DNRF to support research including “scientific research and development, which may include supporting biomedical research” (Sec. 4417). While the inclusion of these amendments is welcome, the main impact is to send a message, not to actually increase funding.
House Approves FY2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill
On May 1, the House of Representatives passed the FY2016 Energy and Water Appropriations bill (H.R.2028) on a mostly party-line vote of 240 to 177. The bill provides $5.1 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, an increase of about $29 million over the FY2015 level of $5.071 billion. The bill included $280 million for ARPA-E, which is flat compared to FY2015 funding and below the APLU and President’s requests of $325 million. APLU will continue to update the APLU appropriations chart as appropriations bills make their way through the legislative process. The White House issued a statement of administrative policy strongly opposing the legislation, which they write “drastically underfunds critical investments.”