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AAU Weekly Wrap-up, August 25, 2017

August 25, 2017


  • Budget and Appropriations Update
  • Education Department Schedules Regulatory Reform Public Hearings
  • Research Organizations Write to OMB, HHS to Oppose NIH Funding Cuts
  • OMB, OSTP Release FY19 Research and Development Budget Priorities
  • CBPP Report: “A Lost Decade in Higher Education Funding”

Budget and Appropriations Update

With only 38 days until federal funding runs out, House Appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over the eight remaining spending bills are working with lawmakers in preparation for floor debate of the second minibus spending package (H.R. 3354) when Congress returns. Should Congress fail to pass a funding package by September 30, lawmakers may be forced to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government running on current levels. President Trump recently threatened a shutdown should Congress pass a spending bill that does not include funding for a wall on the Mexican border.

In addition to passing a spending bill, Congress will also need to lift the debt ceiling by late September so the U.S. can borrow money to pay its debts. Yesterday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told CNBC “I’m not really worried about getting this done” on the possibility of Congress passing a debt limit increase before the deadline. Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have expressed confidence the ceiling will be raised.

Education Department Schedules Regulatory Reform Public Hearings

The Department of Education (ED) will hold two public hearings this fall to solicit feedback on which federal higher education regulations it should rewrite or rescind. The Department has already begun accepting written comments as part of an agency-wide task force; the deadline for those comments has been extended to September 20. 

The first hearing will be held September 26 at Salt Lake Community College in Sandy Utah and the second will be held October 4 at ED headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Research Organizations Write to OMB, HHS to Oppose NIH Funding Cuts

AAU, along with several other organizations, wrote Monday to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to oppose the proposed cuts to NIH funding and facilities and administrative (F&A) costs in the Administration’s FY18 budget. The letter notes that a cut to F&A cost reimbursements is a cut to biomedical research and would “diminish the ability of researchers to conduct critical research” which would hurt patients, scientists, and all Americans. It urges the Administration to reconsider its proposal on F&A cost reimbursements and to strengthen its support for medical research.

OMB, OSTP Release FY19 Research and Development Budget Priorities

Last week, OMB and the Office of Science and Technology Policy jointly released a memo on the Administration’s FY19 research and development (R&D) priorities, which include military superiority, security, prosperity, energy dominance, and health. The memo directs agencies to increase efficiencies by modifying or eliminating programs that could progress “more efficiently through private sector R&D,” and to prioritize basic and early-stage applied research the private sector may later transform into commercial products. It also notes that achieving these goals should be done without additional funding.

CBPP Report: “A Lost Decade in Higher Education Funding”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Wednesday released a report that finds state funding cuts have driven up tuition costs and reduced quality at public colleges and universities. According to the report, state spending for these institutions is nearly $9 billion below what it was when the Great Recession hit – even as public colleges and universities serve 800,000 more full-time students. Though many states have worked to restore cuts in recent years, the findings, adjusted for inflation, conclude that $1,448 less is being spent per student annually today than before the economic downturn.

The report urges state lawmakers to renew their commitment to high-quality, affordable public higher education by increasing the revenue these schools receive. Doing so, it argues, would help build a stronger middle class and “develop the entrepreneurs and skilled workers needed for a strong state economy.”

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