FY2019 Appropriations Update
As the 2019 fiscal year kicked off on October 1, the federal FY2019 appropriations process is in a better place than most recent years.
Late last week, President Trump signed into law an appropriations “minibus” (see text and joint explanatory statement) that includes the FY2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS-ED) and Defense funding bills (H.R. 6157). The president had previously signed H.R.5895, a minibus agreement containing three FY2019 appropriations bills: Energy and Water Development; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and Legislative Branch into law. These five bills represent approximately 75 percent of all projected federal spending in FY2019. There are seven funding bills still awaiting further action in Congress.
The LHHS-ED/Defense bill includes a continuing resolution (CR) which extends funding through December 7 for the agencies not covered by the five enacted FY2019 appropriations bills. Since the House has recessed until November 13, Congress will resume consideration of the seven remaining funding bills when both chambers are back in session after the mid-term elections.
DHS Announces “Public Charge” NPRM
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the release of its anticipated “Public Charge” Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The 447-page proposal would restrict visas and green cards for immigrants if they or members of their household benefit from public assistance programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, also known as welfare), Medicaid, Medicaid Part D (prescription drug subsidies) and Section 8 (housing vouchers). The NPRM is expected to be published in the Federal Register later this week and will be subject to a 60-day public comment period. APLU is analyzing the text of the proposal to determine relevant potential impacts, including mixed-status households and international students seeking “adjustment of status.”
Update on Policies Regarding Sexual Misconduct in Academia
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins issued a statement about the pervasive problem of sexual harassment in science and reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to addressing the issue. Additionally, to increase the agency’s transparency on the issue, NIH launched a new, central website on its anti-sexual harassment activities that comprehensively outlines NIH policies, practices, and initiatives as both an employer and a funding agency to address sexual harassment wherever NIH-funded research activities take place.
Similarly, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced new measures (see fact sheet) to help protect those in the research community from sexual harassment. NSF also released in final form details about a new term and condition notification requirement regarding sexual harassment, other forms of harassment and sexual assault through the Federal Register, effective October 21, 2018.
Additionally, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Women in Science and Engineering will hold a convocation on November 9 entitled “Together We Can Do Better: A National Convocation for Leaders in Academia on Preventing Sexual Harassment.” The event will bring together academic leaders, Title IX and diversity officers, ombudsmen, researchers in sexual harassment, and leaders from professional societies, foundations, and federal agencies to discuss strategies and share promising practices.
Science Community Urges Advancement of OSTP Nominee
APLU joined a scientific community letter in support of moving the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) director nomination forward. The letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), underscores the need for a science advisor to work across government to advance research. After passing the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee by voice vote, the nomination of Kelvin Droegemeier to the post of OSTP Director awaits consideration on the Senate floor.