- Budget and Appropriations Update
- Senate to Consider “Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act”
- AAU, Associations Advise Ed Dept on Title IV Funding Fix
- AAU Opposes SBIR, STTR “Set-Aside” Provisions, Cuts to Federal Research
- ESC Urges Energy Dept, OMB to Retain Six Federal Advisory Committees
- ESC Requests Congress Invest in DOE Office of Science Research Infrastructure
- Senate Confirms Esper as Defense Secretary
- Upcoming Events
BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE
The House yesterday passed a deal to raise the Budget Control Act’s budget caps for two years and suspend the federal debt limit until July 31, 2021. The Senate will consider measure next week, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and others have predicted it will pass. The president has expressed his support of the bill and is expected to sign it.
The deal raises non-defense funding nearly 4.5 percent over FY19 levels to $632 billion for FY20, which is $15 billion less than House Democrats sought. The agreement raises defense spending to $738 billion for FY20, 3.1 percent over current levels, and to $740.5 billion for FY21. The deal also includes $77.4 billion in offsets for spending above current levels.
Congress has 13 combined legislative days before September 30 to reach an agreement on 12 annual spending bills and fund the government. The House Appropriations Committee must revisit the 10 appropriations bills already passed by the House to reduce non-defense spending by $15 billion and increase defense spending by $5 billion to adhere to the spending deal. Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) has said his committee will work during the five-week summer recess to prepare appropriations bills for the floor.
SENATE TO CONSIDER “COMBATING SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN SCIENCE ACT”
The House this week passed H.R. 36, the “Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019,” bipartisan legislation that would focus federal efforts to prevent sexual harassment in scientific workplaces. The measure was referred to the Senate HELP Committee for consideration. The Senate version of the bill – S. 1067 , introduced by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jackey Rosen (D-NV), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) – also awaits committee consideration.
AAU President Mary Sue Coleman in June sent a letter to House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) to thank them for their efforts. In the letter, President Coleman underscores the importance of a “safe and harassment-free work environment for all students, faculty, and personnel at our universities,” saying that it is “essential to achieve the diversity, equity, and inclusion required for the United States to continue its global leadership in science and innovation.”
AAU, ASSOCIATIONS ADVISE ED DEPT ON TITLE IV FUNDING FIX
AAU, together with ACE, APLU, and three other higher education organizations, yesterday sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to oppose the sudden loss of access to Pell Grants, supplemental grants, and federal student loans experienced by some 80,000 students in California pursuing online education. These cuts are the result of a court ruling that limits available options to address financial aid cuts for California residents. In the letter, the organizations suggest the department issue an expedited final rule related to state authorization provisions and to file a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California requesting a further stay of this order until these issues can be addressed. These approaches “would likely be the quickest way to resolve the concerns of impacted students and avert any damaging consequences,” the letter says.
AAU OPPOSES SBIR, STTR “SET-ASIDE” PROVISIONS, CUTS TO FEDERAL RESEARCH
The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on Wednesday postponed the mark-up of the “SBA Reauthorization and Improvement Act of 2019.” AAU sent a letter that day to Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) opposing provisions to increase the annual percentage set aside for the Small Business Innovation and Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs to 6.4 percent and 1 percent respectively. The letter underscores the importance of maintaining investments for government-funded research, saying “at a time when global economic competitors are rapidly increasing their investments in basic research, now is not the time for the United States to shift much-needed funds from these foundational research programs to the SBIR and STTR programs.”
ESC URGES ENERGY DEPT, OMB TO RETAIN SIX FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEES
The Energy Sciences Coalition, which includes AAU, yesterday sent a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry and OMB Acting Director Russell Vought urging them to retain six Federal Advisory Committees that “provide invaluable advice on research priorities and infrastructure investments to the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science.” The coalition expresses concerns that, despite the fact that the Office of Science FACs are “necessary for effective program delivery…and warranted by the public interest,” they may be cut under the president’s June 14, Executive Order 13875, “Evaluating and Improving the Utility of Federal Advisory Committees.”
ESC REQUESTS CONGRESS INVEST IN DOE OFFICE OF SCIENCE RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE
The Energy Sciences Coalition, of which AAU is a member, this week sent a letter urging Congress to include an investment in the Energy Department’s Office of Science’s research infrastructure as part of any upcoming infrastructure legislation. The coalition stated, "Targeted infrastructure investments at Office of Science - supported facilities would have a significant return on investment. In the short-term, such investments would create construction jobs and increased economic activity, while in the long-term they would spur discoveries and innovation, creating the jobs and technologies of tomorrow."
SENATE CONFIRMS ESPER AS NEW DEFENSE SECRETARY
Yesterday, Mark Esper was confirmed as the Secretary of Defense. Esper previously served as Acting Secretary of the Department, as the U.S. Secretary of the Army, and Vice President of Government Relations at the Raytheon Company.
SEPTEMBER 10 – 11 CFR MEETING; This meeting will take place at AAU’s offices, 1200 New York Ave NW, Suite 550. A draft agenda will be circulated in advance. 2019 calendar located here, 2020 calendar located here.
SEPTEMBER 10 GOLDEN GOOSE AWARDS; 5:30 p.m. at the Library of Congress. See the Save the Date for more information.