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AAU Weekly Wrap-up, May 17, 2019

  • Budget and Appropriations Update
    • House Appropriations Subcommittees Advance FY20 Spending Bills
    • Energy-Water
      • Interior-Environment
      • Defense
      • CJS
    • House Appropriations Committee Approves FY20 State-Foreign Ops Funding
    • President Reportedly Supportive of Budget Caps Deal
  • White House Revises FY20 Budget Request
  • President Trump Releases Plan to Overhaul Immigration Laws
  • Coalitions Urge Congressional Leadership to Raise Budget Caps
  • OIRA to Review Proposed Endowment Tax Regulations
  • Task Force on American Innovation Releases 2019 Benchmarks Report
  • National Academies Hold Science and Security Roundtable
  • CNSR Requests Robust Funding for Defense Research Programs
  • Upcoming Events


Four House Appropriations subcommittees this week advanced their spending bills to the full Committee for future markup.

The Energy and Water subcommittee Wednesday approved a $46.4 billion FY20 Energy-Water appropriations bill, which increases funding by 4 percent over FY19. The bill includes significant increases over FY19 funding for several programs, including 4 percent for the Office of Science and 16 percent for ARPA-E.

The subcommittee on Interior and Environment Wednesday passed a bill to set FY20 Interior-Environment funding at $37.28 billion, an increase of 10.9 percent over FY19. The bill includes $167.5 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, an increase of 8 percent over FY19. This matches AAU’s FY20 funding recommendation.

The Defense subcommittee Wednesday advanced its FY20 Defense bill, which sets funding at $690.2 billion - a 2 percent increase over FY19. Funding details on science and technology programs are not yet available. The full Committee will next Tuesday mark up the measure.

The subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies today passed a bill to set FY20 CJS funding at $73.9 billion, a 15 percent increase over FY19. The bill includes $22.32 for NASA, 3.8 percent above FY19. The measure raises funding for several key NASA programs, including: $7.161 million (+3.7 percent) for Science, $700 million (+3.4 percent) for Aeronautics, and $1.291 million (+39.3 percent) for Space Technology. The measure also includes $8.64 for the National Science Foundation, an increase of $561.14 million or 7 percent above FY19.

The House Appropriations Committee today approved the FY20 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill. The bill sets FY20 funding levels at $56.4 billion, or 3.9 percent over FY19.

RESOURCE AVAILABLE: AAU FY20 Funding Priorities Table (updated 5/17/2019) | AAU Applauds Proposed Increases for Higher Education, Scientific Research

Administration staff and Congressional leaders plan to next week meet to begin talks focused on reaching an agreement to raise the Budget Control Act's budget caps. The Congressional team will feature House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, acting OMB director Russ Vought, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will participate on behalf of the president. If Congress fails to reach a deal to raise the budget caps the administration supports, then FY20 and 21 discretionary spending will face cuts of $225 billion.

RESOURCE AVAILABLE: AAU and APLU Urge Congressional Leaders to Raise Discretionary Spending Caps for FY20 and 21


The administration Monday released revisions to its FY20 budget request, amending its funding requests for the Departments of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, and others. The proposal directs an additional $1.9 billion away from the Pell Grant surplus, which increases the administration’s cuts from $2 billion in its initial request to nearly $3.9 billion. The request would provide $1.6 million in additional funds for NASA’s “Moon to Mars” initiative, including increases of $1.4 billion to develop Deep Space Exploration Systems, $132 million for NASA’s Exploration Technology, and $90 million for a robotic mission to the moon in advance of human exploration. The request also cuts funding for EPA programs by $150 million.

AAU tweeted in response to the proposal, calling on Congress to oppose cuts to Pell Grant funding and requesting support for a bipartisan agreement to raise the budget caps.

RESOURCES AVAILABLE: AAU Summary on the Trump Administration FY20 Proposed Budget


The President on Thursday presented his proposal to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. The proposal does not address Dreamers or change the overall number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. each year. Instead, the proposal changes the composition of legal immigration by imposing a strict, point-based merit standard. Under the proposal, the U.S. would prioritize younger and highly educated immigrants who “contribute more to our social safety net.”


A group of 13 coalitions, nine of which AAU is a member, today sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to work toward a bipartisan agreement to raise the Budget Control Act’s budget caps for FY20 and 21. The letter asserts that “a bipartisan agreement is needed to permit robust federal investments in America’s scientific enterprise and ensure that the United States remains the global innovation leader.”


The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Thursday reported it had received materials on the proposed endowment tax regulations for its review. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included a provision that imposed a 1.4 percent excise tax on private university endowments valued at $100,000 per full-time student. OIRA has 45 days to review the proposal before it can be published by the Treasury Department. The department must by June 22 issue proposed regulations if they are to apply to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act effective dates.

RESOURCE AVAILABLE: AAU Statement on Senate Tax Reform Proposal


The Task Force on American Innovation, of which AAU is a member, yesterday released its report, “Benchmarks 2019: Second Place America? Increasing Challenges to US Scientific Leadership.” The report finds that, without increased federal investment in scientific research, America’s competitors could soon threaten our nation’s position as a leader in global innovation. Of the report, AAU report co-chair Toby Smith said, “Maintaining a global lead in science is critical to American national security and economic interests. But this report clearly documents that the rest of the world is catching up very quickly.”


The Coalition for National Security Research, which includes AAU, yesterday sent a letter on their FY20 Defense budget recommendations to the House and Senate defense appropriations leaders. The letter requests continued support for Defense S&T, basic and applied research program elements, DARPA, and medical research programs. The letter says that these programs “support innovative scientific research to help the U.S. military maintain technical superiority now and in the future.”


MAY 21 NHA EVENT; Divided States of America? A Live Show of the Popular Weekly Podcast Backstory. 2:00 p.m. ET, 385 Russell Senate Office Building, RSVP here.

MAY 22 CNSR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, & INFORMATION EXCHANGE (STIx) BRIEFING; 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET, 2325 Rayburn House Office Building. Register here. For more information, see invitation here. If interested in presenting a poster, email Aaron Kiesler.