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AAU Weekly Wrap-Up, February 9, 2018


  • Budget and Appropriations Update 
    • Spending Deal Ends Brief Shutdown, Extends Funding Through March 23
    • The Administration Readies to Release FY19 Budget Proposal Next Week 
  • Associations Again Urge Congress to Act on DACA 
  • Higher Education Act Update 
  • United for Medical Research Releases Economic Impact Report 
  • AAU Signs Letters Asking Congress for Increased Science, Student Aid Funding


After a brief shutdown, Congress passed a budget deal to fund the government and raise strict spending caps. The House voted 240-186 around 5:30 a.m. after the Senate voted 71-28 just before 2 a.m., and was signed by the president around 9 a.m. this morning. The bipartisan deal will increase federal spending by nearly $300 billion and suspend the debt ceiling for a year. The measure will keep federal agencies open until March 23, giving appropriators time to craft a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the government through September 30.

The administration plans to release its FY19 budget proposal Monday, February 12. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is scheduled to present the proposal to the Senate Budget Committee at 10 a.m. EST Tuesday, February 13. The White House today confirmed its plans to include in the FY19 budget proposal, a guidance document on how to utilize the higher spending caps reached in the recently-passed spending deal.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is posting information about each FY19 agency budget briefing here as they are scheduled.


AAU joined several other higher education associations in a letter Monday urging Congress to act on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of DACA registrants who remain in legal limbo. The letter stresses immediate action and reiterates previous statements made by AAU and other organizations, including the statement signed by 57 AAU presidents and chancellors and other letters to this effect.


The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Tuesday held its fourth HEA reauthorization hearing to focus on college affordability. Chairman Lamar Alexander expressed concerns with college costs and recommended the committee consider four key issues in reauthorization legislation: FAFSA simplification; the simplification of federal grant, loan, and repayment options to redirect more funds to the Pell Grant program; increased competency-based education programs; and increased institutional accountability measures for student loan repayment. Chairman Alexander has indicated the committee plans to mark up a HEA reauthorization bill this spring, though bill text has not yet been drafted. Both Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray have released principle documents outlining their respective priorities for comprehensive HEA reauthorization.

The House Education and Workforce Committee has already approved its HEA reauthorization bill, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act (H.R. 4508). The Congressional Budget Office estimated the PROSPER Act would cut mandatory spending on student aid by $14.6 billion over 10 years. The CBO score also estimates the bill would lead Congress to appropriate an additional $210.1 billion in funding over the same time period. Republican leadership intends to bring the bill to the House floor as soon as possible.


Earlier this week, the Student Aid Alliance, of which AAU is a member, on Monday wrote to House and Senate appropriators to ask they provide additional funding for federal student financial aid programs. The letter notes that after years of repeated cuts, funding has failed to keep pace with increased student need.

On Tuesday, AAU joined nearly 100 other organizations in a letter encouraging congressional leaders to reach a bipartisan budget agreement that raises sequester-level discretionary spending caps. The letter also asked that they make science a priority as they set FY18 and FY19 funding allocations for appropriations committees with jurisdiction over science and technology accounts.


Yesterday, United for Medical Research (UMR) released new economic data showing the impacts of NIH-funded research on the U.S. economy. In FY17, NIH research funding directly and indirectly supported over 400,000 jobs nationwide. In the same year, income generated by these jobs, as well as through the purchase of research-related equipment, services, and materials produced $68.795 billion in new economic activity. Information on impact by state is available here.

UMR's report shows a correlation between recent increases to the NIH budget and economic benefits. In FY16 and FY17, Congress approved a $2 billion increase to the NIH budget - the first substantial increases in more than 10 years, enabling the NIH to award $3.3 billion more in extramural research grants in FY17 than in FY15. This funding boost led to the creation of 50,467 jobs and $8.08 billion more economic activity. large intro STEM classes @UVA, one method being used to engage students in class discussions is to use catchable microphones. Another is to employ undergraduate learning assistants in these classes to help answer questions and facilitate small group discussions #AAUSTEM @JudyGiering

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