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News & Media

Washington Update

August 14, 2019

FY2020 Budget and Appropriations Update
On August 2, President Trump signed a two-year, $2.7 trillion budget deal that lifts the Budget Control Act spending caps and suspends the debt ceiling through July 2021. The bipartisan package increases defense spending by 3.1 percent, to $738 billion, and nondefense by 4.5 percent, to $632 billion. The House and the Senate still must pass appropriations bills by September 30 to avert a government shutdown.

With topline budget levels now set, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) distributed spending allocations, known as 302(b)s, to all 12 of the appropriations subcommittees, although the allocations are not yet public. The Senate has not yet taken action on any of the 12 spending bills. When Congress returns in September, lawmakers may decide to negotiate a continuing resolution to extend FY2019 funding levels, which would provide additional time to complete the appropriations process.

The House already passed 10 appropriations bills this summer. Yet due to the new funding agreement, the House will have to cut about $15 billion from nondefense accounts and add $5 billion to their defense discretionary spending as compared to their previous levels.

APLU and AAU Urge OMB to Invest in Higher Ed and Research
APLU and the Association of American Universities (AAU) sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell Vought urging strong support and increased funding for higher education and scientific research in the administration’s FY2021 budget. The letter notes that robust funding in these areas is essential to the U.S. maintaining global collaboration, competition, and national security and will ensure the U.S. remains the leader in global innovation. While Congress has yet to complete the FY2020 process, the administration will begin its work in preparing its FY2021 budget request.

APLU Sends OMB Letter Expressing Deep Concern with Potential USAID & State Funding Rescission
APLU urged the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to lift a funding freeze on Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and State Department unobligated funding. The APLU letter followed OMB instructions to the agencies to freeze Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 funding that has not yet been designated. While the funding freeze has reportedly been lifted, problems remain. Bloomberg reports the administration “ordered that spending be limited to what translates as about 2% of unobligated funds per day.” The outlet reports the administration is aiming to ask Congress to rescind already-appropriated funding later this month.

USCIS Issues Final “Public Charge” Rule
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a final rule, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” which restricts visas and green cards from immigrants if they receive one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period or are deemed likely to receive public assistance benefits in the foreseeable future.

Last December, APLU along with partner associations and organizations in the higher education community, submitted comments to USCIS seeking to explicitly exclude all Title IV federal student aid programs from the final rule. The letter also called for an exemption for F-1 and J-1 visa applicants, noting that these individuals must already provide evidence of “sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study” and demonstrate that they will return to their home country. The final rule does not consider federal student aid in the public charge inadmissibility determination but does not include clear exemptions for F-1 and J-1 visa applicants. The rule is set to take effect on October 15, 2019.

Higher Ed Community Expresses Support for College Student Hunger Act
APLU joined over 30 associations and organizations in supporting S.2143/H.R. 3809, the College Student Hunger Act of 2019. Introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Al Lawson (D-FL), the legislation would help address food insecurity on college campuses by enabling more low-income college students to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and integrating efforts by the federal government, states, and colleges and universities.

ARPA-E Funding Legislation
On July 31, House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Connor Lamb (D-PA) introduced H.R. 4091, the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act of 2019. The bill would authorize $428 million to ARPA-E in FY2020 before rising to $1 billion in FY2024. The numbers are consistent with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s recommendations in its Rising Above the Gathering Storm report. ARPA-E is currently funded at $366 million and would be funded at $425 million in the FY2020 House Energy & Water Development appropriations bill.

Senate Confirms Michael Kratsios for OSTP Post
The Senate confirmed Michael Kratsios as Associate Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and U.S. Chief Technology Officer. Mr. Krastsios previously served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer. He has been instrumental in the development and execution of President Trump’s technology initiatives, including STEM education, advanced manufacturing, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G and broadband communications, and commercial drones.

Ahead of Mr. Kratsios’s confirmation hearing, APLU sent a letter to Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) endorsing his nomination.

 
  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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