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AAU Weekly Wrap-up, July 14, 2017


  • FY18 Appropriations Update
    • House Appropriators Eliminate ARPA-E Funding, Cut NEH, and Boost NASA Science Funding
    • House Appropriators Increase NIH Funding, Flat-fund Most Student Aid Programs
    • AAU Issues Statement on House Appropriations Action
  • FY18 Budget Update
    • 210 Organizations Ask Congress to Reach Budget Deal, Raise Caps
    • AAU Urges Congressional Leaders to Reach Budget Agreement, Raise Caps
  • House Approves Defense Authorization Bill
  • DHS Proposal to Increase Scrutiny of Foreign Students
  • Associations Comment on Department of Energy Regulatory Reform Request
  • Associations Request Relief from Guidance Barring Universities from Providing Student Health Insurance Plans


The House Appropriations Committee and subcommittees advanced multiple spending measures this week, including the FY18 energy and water, agriculture, commerce-justice-science (CJS), labor-health-human services-education (LHHS), and interior appropriations bills.

  • The committee flat-funded the Department of Energy’s Office of Science at $5,392 million, and eliminated ARPA-E funding. House appropriators also flat-funded the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, providing $375 million for FY18. The FY18 interior appropriations bill provides $145 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, reflecting a $5 million cut below FY17. The FY18 CJS bill funds the National Science Foundation at $7.3 billion, reflecting a $133 million cut, and provides $5.858 billion for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, reflecting a $93.6 million increase above FY17.
  • The House FY18 LHHS bill provides $35.2 billion to support the National Institutes of Health, a boost of $1.1 billion above FY17. The bill includes a provision barring deviation from current practices for the reimbursement of NIH facilities and administrative costs. Regarding student aid, the spending measure maintains the Pell Grant maximum award at $5,920 but rescinds $3.3 billion in unobligated carryover funds for outside use. Federal work study, the supplemental educational opportunity grant, and the Institute for Education Sciences receive flat-funding at $990 million, $733 million, and $605 million, respectively. Title VI international education programs funding is cut by $7 million to $65 million. The full committee is scheduled to markup the bill July 19.
  • AAU President Mary Sue Coleman issued a statement in response to the various House Appropriations actions. United for Medical Research and the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, both of which AAU is a member, also issued statements.

View AAU’s FY18 Funding Priorities table here.


House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said today the House intends to markup its FY18 budget resolution next week. Preliminary reports suggest the interim 302(b) allocations, which set the spending totals for each of the 12 FY18 spending measures, will decrease for each subcommittee with jurisdiction over AAU priorities, excluding defense.

  • On Thursday, a group of 210 organizations, including AAU, sent a letter urging Congressional leaders to negotiate a bipartisan budget agreement that raises the non-defense and defense spending caps established under the 2011 Budget Control Act. The Research!America-led letter said, “Whether the challenge before us is fiscal, economic, health or security-related, Americans do not acquiesce to threats, we end them. Our nation must not block its own path by forsaking strategic investments.” The organizations expressed gratitude for the leaders’ efforts in FY17 and encouraged them to negotiate another bipartisan agreement that increases the spending caps and overrides sequestration.
  • On Monday, AAU sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging bipartisan agreement to raise the FY18 defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps. The letter notes that after several years of sequestration cuts and declining federal investments in scientific research, and higher education programs, Congress took steps in FY16 and FY17 to begin reinvesting. The letter urges the leaders to help continue this momentum in FY18.


The House today approved the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R. 2810) by a vote of 344 to 81. The bill would exceed both the Administration’s $603 billion defense budget request, and the $549 billion cap set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Overall, the bill authorizes $83.7 billion for defense research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E), an increase of $11.7 billion above FY17 enacted levels. This funding level includes $2.3 billion for 6.1 basic research, and $3.2 billion for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), reflecting a $17.8 million decrease and $213 million increase, respectively.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved its version, S. 1519, but the Senate has yet to consider the bill.


According to a recent Washington Post article, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering a proposal that would require foreign students to reapply for permission to stay in the U.S. every year. DHS officials have cautioned that the plan is in preliminary stages and if the Department moves forward, the required regulatory changes could take a minimum of 18 months. They also noted the plan may require agreement from the State Department.


AAU, APLU, and COGR submitted a joint comment letter today in response to a Federal Register request for information (RFI) seeking comments to assist the Department of Energy in identifying existing regulations that could be modified or repealed to achieve meaningful burden reduction without impacting the Department's statutory obligations. This RFI is in response to Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” which was issued January 30, 2017.


Seven organizations, including AAU, sent a letter yesterday to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requesting relief from 2016 guidance prohibiting universities from providing student health insurance plan (SHIP) coverage. SHIP coverage is defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as a type of individual health insurance coverage provided at little or no cost to graduate students. The letter explains the guidance has caused concern and uncertainty at many institutions, causing some to end graduate student SHIP subsidies due to potential fines and regulatory compliance burden.

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