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News & Media

Washington Update

October 20, 2021

Washington Debate on Infrastructure, Reconciliation Bills Continues
Democratic lawmakers in both chambers of Congress and the White House continue to debate the scope and timing of infrastructure and reconciliation bills. Reports indicate that Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), whose vote is needed to pass the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, has said the legislation would need to be closer to $1.5 trillion to garner his vote. Earlier this month, APLU sent a letter to the House Education and Labor and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees outlining three main priorities for improvements to the higher education components of the reconciliation bill. These priorities are:

  • Increasing the maximum Pell Grant by at least $1,475, consistent with the American Families Plan, as part of an overall strategy to #DoublePell
  • Decoupling the College Completion Fund from the federal-state partnership for free community college
  • Improving the maintenance of effort (MOE) provisions to adjust for inflation and thus protect and advance state funding of public higher education

President Biden reportedly told the House Progressive Caucus that the federal-state partnership to achieve free community college in participating states would not make it in the final package.

In addition to higher education priorities, APLU is also advocating for research infrastructure and research funding in the reconciliation package. Senator Hirono transmitted a letter yesterday in support of such funding for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. We continue to also engage policymakers to support investments in the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology programs and research infrastructure.

Chairman Leahy Releases Nine Remaining Senate Appropriations Bills
This week, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) released the final nine of twelve Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bills as well as subcommittee explanatory statements. As noted in the press release, the bills comply with the topline spending allocation contained in the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Resolution.

APLU has updated our Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Chart to reflect Senate action. Overall, Senate bills contain significant increases in student aid and research. As the bills were not negotiated with Senate Republicans on the Appropriations Committee, substantial work remains for the chamber to complete its FY22 work and for Congress to complete the process. The federal government is presently operating on a Continuing Resolution that funds agencies through December 3.

National Science Foundation Unveils New Dashboard
The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently unveiled a new dashboard: NSF by the Numbers, a publicly accessible user-intuitive dashboard providing access to statistics such as awards funded, institutions funded, funding rates, proposals evaluated, and award obligations by fiscal year. The dashboard includes the ability to explore these statistics at the state and congressional district levels. FY2011 - FY2020 data is currently available on the dashboard. The dashboard provides easier access to much more detailed information about individual campuses than previously available on the NSF website. There is an instructional video of how to extract information from the dashboard on the instructions page, as well as a FAQ.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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