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APLU Urges Congress to Raise Budget Caps & Approve FY 2018 Funding to Avert Cuts to Research and Higher Education

Washington, DC – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urging them to reach an agreement to raise the Fiscal Year 2018 discretionary spending caps at the same level for both defense and non-defense. McPherson’s letter details how raising the caps would enable passage of a final Fiscal Year 2018 spending bill that increases funding for research and higher education. Doing so would avoid a reduction in the budget caps that would lead to spending cuts in these critical areas.

The full text of the letter is below and can be downloaded here.

December 7, 2017

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Ryan and Leaders McConnell, Schumer, and Pelosi:

On behalf of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), I urge you to work with the White House to reach an agreement that raises the Budget Control Act spending caps for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. Doing so would allow for significant investments in research and higher education — priorities necessary to grow our economy, advance our national security, improve public health, and prevent an innovation deficit.

We appreciate the progress the House and Senate have made on the FY 2018 appropriations bills. However, we are concerned that without a broader budget deal that raises the caps for both defense and non-defense discretionary spending, the FY 2018 funding process will stall and lead to a year-long continuing resolution (CR). This would mean a reduction for all programs from FY 2017 levels since the budget caps are slightly lower for FY 2018 than they were for FY 2017. Further, a year-long CR would be bad policy and a significant missed opportunity. It would cede any congressionally proposed changes and updates for all of FY 2018, including needed funding increases and other modifications for research, student aid, and other important programs.

For example, the Senate Appropriations Committee Labor-HHS bill proposes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – a vital continuation of recent efforts to reverse past cuts by boosting support for much-needed biomedical research that saves lives and accelerates economic growth. The House bill proposes an increase of $1 billion for NIH. Under a year-long CR, the NIH budget would not see any increase; instead it would be cut.

Another example: the Senate Labor-HHS bill would provide the first discretionary increase in the maximum Pell Grant in over a decade, which would help the Pell award keep pace with inflation. Under a CR, there would be no increase to Pell in FY 2018.

In some of the FY 2018 bills, the tight allocations have prevented needed funding levels for important agencies, such as the National Science Foundation. Without a budget deal that raises the spending caps, the NSF will see a cut to its budget in FY 2018. To prevent an innovation deficit, keep our country safe, and maintain our global competitive edge, the U.S. must robustly fund science and research, and expand access to quality, affordable higher education. The continued improvement of Americans’ quality of life depends on these proven investments, which have paid off reliably throughout modern history.

With the impending December 8 deadline of the current CR, we urge Congress to act quickly on a budget agreement that raises both the defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps similarly for FY 2018.

Thank you for your consideration.

M. Peter McPherson
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

cc: The Honorable John Cornyn, Senate Majority Whip
The Honorable Richard Durbin, Senate Minority Whip
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy House Majority Leader
The Honorable Steny Hoyer, House Minority Whip
The Honorable Thad Cochran, Chairman, Appropriations Committee
The Honorable Patrick Leahy Ranking Member, Appropriations Committee
The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen, Chairman, Appropriations Committee
The Honorable Nita Lowey Ranking Member, Appropriations Committee
Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee
Members of the House Appropriations Committee

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