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May 20, 2016

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CONTENTS

BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS & TAX ISSUES
House Subcommittee Approves FY17 Commerce-Justice-Science Bill
Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Increase for AFRI
EXECUTIVE BRANCH
Obama Administration Issues Final Overtime Rule

BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS & TAX ISSUES

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE APPROVES FY17 COMMERCE-JUSTICE-SCIENCE BILL

The House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee on May 18 approved its FY17 funding bill, which was just 0.5 percent above its FY16 enacted level. Program details will await release of the committee report following full committee consideration of the measure Tuesday, May 24.

The committee will also use the May 24 meeting to consider the FY17 Transportation-HUD bill and the panel’s subcommittee funding allocations.

The Commerce-Justice-Science bill would fund the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $7.4 billion, a cut of $57 million from the FY16 enacted level. Within that total, funding for Research and Related Activities would increase by $46 million to $6.08 billion, and Education and Human Resources would be level-funded at $880 million.

Funding for the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account would drop to $87.1 million, a cut of $113 million from the FY16 enacted level of $200 million. Of that cut, $106 million is a rejection of NSF’s plan to begin building two new research ships, reports Science.

For NASA, the bill would provide $19.5 billion, or $223 million more than the FY16 enacted level. The Science Directorate would receive $5.6 billion, an increase of $8 million, with funding targeted to planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics. Space Grant would be level-funded at $40 million. Aeronautics would receive $712 million, Space Technology would receive $739.2 million, and Exploration would receive $4.2 billion, an increase of $153 million.

Information on the companion bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 21 is available here and in the April 22 AAU Weekly Wrap-up.

The updated AAU Funding Priorities chart shows funding levels for other agencies and programs.

 

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVES INCREASE FOR AFRI

The Senate Appropriations Committee on May 19 approved its FY17 Agriculture appropriations bill with $375 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), an increase of $25 million above the FY16 enacted level.

That funding is the same amount approved for AFRI by the House Appropriations Committee on April 19.

AFRI is a competitive grant program that provides funding for fundamental and applied research, extension, and education in food and agricultural sciences.

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ISSUES FINAL OVERTIME RULE

The Obama administration on May 18 released its final overtime rule. The rule raises the salary overtime threshold from $23,660 to $47,476, with an automatic increase every three years. The rule takes effect December 1, 2016.

The Department of Labor has published a variety of materials about the rule on its website, including a fact sheet and guidance for higher education. The guidance effectively restates current law and practice and provides no new exceptions for higher education employees or postdoctoral researchers.

Information about how the new rule will affect postdocs in biomedical research is available in a blog post by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Deputy Director Michael Lauer.

NIH Director Francis Collins on May 17 expressed support for the rule in a Huffington Post op-ed co-authored with Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Thomas Perez. The two agency leaders said the best alternative was to raise postdoc salaries above the threshold, which they acknowledged would be a challenge. They added that NIH would work with leaders in the postdoc and research communities “to find creative solutions to ensure a smooth transition.”

 

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