FY2019 Appropriations Update
House and Senate lawmakers made progress on two “minibus” appropriations bills. The first agreement (H.R.5895) which contains three FY2019 spending bills – Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch – passed the House and Senate last week and was sent to the president for his signature. The announced that the president would sign the bill.
Lawmakers also unveiled a conference agreement (see text and joint explanatory statement) that includes the FY2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS-ED) and Defense bills (H.R. 6157). The agreement also contains a continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding through December 7 for any appropriations bills that are not complete before the start of the fiscal year on October 1. The Senate advanced the LHHS-ED/Defense package on a vote of 93-7, teeing up House action ahead of the September 30 funding deadline.
Energy and Water
While the agreement would provide $6.585 billion for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, a $325 million increase over FY2018, the funding level falls slightly below the House and Senate approved numbers of $6.6 billion and $6.65 billion, respectively. The president’s budget request (PBR) proposed $5.39 billion for DOE’s Office of Science. Conferees landed between the House proposed $325 million and Senate proposed $375 million for Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), recommending $366 million for the agency in FY2019, a $13 million increase over FY2018. Lawmakers also rebuked the administration’s proposal to zero out the agency in the conference agreement with language that states, “The Department shall not use any appropriated funds to plan or execute the termination of ARPA-E.”
Under the agreement, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive $39.084 billion in FY2019, consistent with the Senate proposed $2 billion increase, including $711 million provided through the 21st Century Cures Act. The House proposed $38.334 billion and the PBR proposed $34.767 billion. The conference agreement includes language to keep the extramural salary cap at Executive Level II, while the PBR proposed to lower the cap to Executive Level V. Also included in the bill is a provision instructing administration officials to continue support for facilities and administrative (F&A) costs.
Title VII and Title VIII programs at the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) would receive $642 million, $1 million more than FY2018 funding, $28 million above the House proposal, $1 million less than the Senate proposal, and $554 million above the PBR.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) would receive $338 million in FY2019, $4 million above FY2018 and House and Senate proposals. This stands in contrast with the PBR that proposes consolidating the AHRQ within the NIH.
Additionally, the bill would provide $22.475 billion for the Pell Grant program at the Department of Education, level with FY2018 enacted, the PBR and the House and Senate proposals. The bill would increase the maximum Pell Grant award to $6,195, $100 more than the maximum FY2018 award, and $100 more than the House proposal. As with the Senate bill, the conference agreement would rescind $600 million from the Pell Grant surplus.
The Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) would be funded at $23 million, level with FY2018 and the House and Senate proposals. The PBR would eliminate the program. The Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) would be funded at $840 million, same as FY2018 and the House and Senate bills. The PBR proposed eliminating the program. Federal Work Study would receive $1.130 billion, level with FY2018 and the House and Senate proposals, and $630 million above the PBR. The bill would fund TRIO programs at $1.060 billion, consistent with the House bill, $50 million more than the Senate bill and the FY2018 enacted level, and $110 million more than the PBR. The bill would provide $360 million for GEAR UP, consistent with the House bill and $10 million more than the Senate bill and FY2018 enacted level. The PBR would have eliminated the program. The Institute of Education Sciences would receive $615 million, same as the Senate bill, $2 million above FY2018 and the House proposal, and $93 million more than the PBR. While the PBR zeroes out Title VI International Education Programs, the bill proposes $72 million, level with FY2018 funding and the House and Senate proposals.
APLU issued a statement upon release of the LHHS-ED conference agreement.
The agreement would fund Department of Defense (DoD) Science and Technology accounts at $16.050 billion, $632 more than the Senate proposal, $1.6 billion above the House proposal, $2.4 billion above the PBR, and $1.19 billion above FY2018 enacted. DoD Basic Research would receive $2.619 billion. This funding level is $178 million less than the Senate proposal, $322 more than the House bill, $351 more than the PBR, and a $277 million increase from FY2018. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) would receive $3.432 billion, $15 million below the Senate, $44 million above the House, $7 million below the PBR, and $360 million above FY2018.
The Association of Title IX Administrators leaked a draft of the Department of Education’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Title IX. The draft is dated August 25th. Consistent with news reports the draft NPRM would make significant changes to institutions’ obligations under Title IX relative to claims of sexual misconduct. Changes include discretion on standard of evidence, the definition of sexual harassment, options for mediation, among other significant changes. APLU staff are reviewing the leaked draft. It is very important to keep in mind that the NPRM has not been issued and changes can be made before the issuance of the proposed rule. The Title IX NPRM is presently with the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.
USDA NIFA and ERS Proposed Relocation – Activity and Updates
Capitol Hill lawmakers and members of the agriculture advocacy community sent letters regarding the proposed relocation of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS) outside the Washington, DC area. Communications from lawmakers to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue include a letter from Senate Agriculture Committee leadership, a letter from House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and a letter from members of the House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee.
Additionally, APLU joined a coalition of stakeholders on a letter to House and Senate leadership of the agriculture committees expressing concern with the administration’s proposal to move NIFA outside of the national capital region.
On September 7, USDA announced through a press release that the deadline for Expressions of Interest for proposed ERS and NIFA headquarters has been postponed 30 days, from September 14 to October 15, 2018.
Webinar on USDA Research Relocation and Reorganization, September 20
On September 20, from 11am-12pm EDT, APLU and other members of the agriculture research advocacy community will host a webinar to discuss the administration’s recent proposal to relocate the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside the Washington, DC area by the end of 2019. The webinar will feature former USDA officials who will share their expertise on the agencies and understanding of the proposal. Register for the webinar here.
House Passes Student Financial Counseling Act, H.R. 1635
The House of Representatives passed the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, H.R. 1635 by a vote of 406-4. The legislation would replace required entrance counseling for first-time federal student loan borrowers with required annual counseling. Additionally, the bill would add Pell Grant recipients and Parent PLUS Loan borrowers to required recipients of annual counseling and make changes to the information that must be conveyed. The Department of Education would be directed to maintain a counseling tool for annual and exit counseling. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators released a statement expressing concern with inflexibility under the legislation and also indicated interest in working with Congress before legislation is finalized.