- Budget and Appropriations Update
- Looming Reality of Second CR
- Senate Minibus Progress
- AAU Urges Lawmakers to Complete FY20 Appropriations, Avoid Second CR
- House Education Committee Advances College Affordability Act
- CNSR Requests Robust Funding Increases in FY21 Defense Budget
- EPA to Move Forward with Proposed Rule on Transparency in Science
- AAU, Associations Send Letters to House Leaders on HEA Reauthorization Efforts
- SASC Chair Introduces “Skinny,” Backup FY20 NDAA
- AAU, Associations Send Letter Urging Support for NSF GRFP
BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE
Congress has just seven joint legislative days to complete the FY20 appropriations process before the current continuing resolution runs out on November 21. However, disagreement in the Senate over funding for the president’s border wall and the House’s impeachment inquiry have significantly slowed progress in the Senate.
"I'm increasingly worried that President Trump will want to shut down the government again because of impeachment," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said to Roll Call . Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) and House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) recently said to Politico that a second CR that runs into February or March 2020 is likely.
The Senate yesterday approved a spending package that included Agriculture-FDA, Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment, and Transportation-HUD FY20 appropriations measures. Initially passed by the House as H.R. 3055, the effort would fund the National Science Foundation at $8.317 billion, $242 million above the FY19 enacted level. It also flat funds the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Science Mission Directorate at $6.9 billion. The House FY20 appropriations measures fund NSF at $8.636 billion and the NASA Science Mission Directorate at $7.161 billion.
A procedural vote in the Senate yesterday to begin debate on H.R. 2740 , a second package of spending bills passed by the House, was rejected on a vote of 51-41. The measure would include FY20 appropriations for Defense, Energy-Water, Labor-HHS-Education, and State-Foreign Operations. Sixty total votes are needed to advance the bill to the floor, and this collection of bills has so far twice failed to achieve chamber consideration.
AAU Wednesday sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to complete the FY20 appropriations process before the current continuing resolution runs out on November 21. "In the absence of final appropriations, federal agencies postpone research award decisions and prepare for potential lapses in funding," the letter says. "This slows the pace of research and innovation and creates unnecessary and costly administrative backlogs." The letter goes on to urge lawmakers to “approve the highest levels of funding proposed for research and student aid programs already included in the House and Senate bills.”
HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE ADVANCES COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY ACT
The House Committee on Education and Labor yesterday advanced H.R. 4674, the “College Affordability Act.” Introduced by Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee, the legislation is a vehicle to reauthorize the Higher Education Act for the first time in more than a decade. The bill includes provisions that would implement free community college, increase Pell Grants and other federal student aid, expand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and more. House Education Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) said to Politico Pro that he wants to pass the legislation before the end of the year.
AAU on Monday sent a letter to House Education and Labor Committee leaders to offer comments on the College Affordability Act. The letter highlights the important provisions in the bill that AAU supports, including improvements to, and expansions of, federal student aid programs; protections for Title IX; and increased funding for various Title VI international education programs.
AAU also joined ACE, APLU, and 30 other higher education organizations on Monday to send a letter to House Education Committee leaders that expressed appreciation for elements of the bill that would improve access to higher education, but noted concerns about new requirements, unintended consequences, and the abbreviated timeline allowed for review of the legislation and amendments ahead of the markup.
RESOURCES AVAILABLE: AAU President Issues Statement on College Affordability Act
CNSR REQUESTS ROBUST FUNDING INCREASES IN FY21 DEFENSE BUDGET
The Coalition for National Security Research, of which AAU is a member, yesterday sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, OMB Acting Director Russell Vought, and OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier asking them to support robust and sustained funding growth for key Defense research and education programs in the FY21 budget request. “The discoveries and innovations that have provided the U.S. military with global technological superiority can often be traced back to investments in the Defense S&T program,” the letter says. The Coalition calls for “at least a four percent increase over enacted levels in the Defense S&T program including the defense basic research programs.”
EPA TO MOVE FORWARD WITH PROPOSED RULE ON TRANSPARENCY IN SCIENCE
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler recently said in a House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing that the agency would move ahead with its proposed rule, Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, as early as next year. The rule would restrict the scientific research EPA considers in rulemaking to that in which the underlying data is publicly available. While AAU strongly supports public access to research, some research data cannot be made publicly available for legal and privacy reasons. The proposed rule would limit EPA’s ability to use the best available science when promulgating rules that safeguard human health.
SASC CHAIR INTRODUCES “SKINNY,” BACKUP FY20 NDAA
Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jim Inhofe (R-OK) Tuesday introduced a pared-down backup version of the FY20 NDAA. Inhofe in a press release indicated that he remains committed to passing a comprehensive bill but has prepared this legislation in the event that negotiators can’t agree on a compromise between S. 1790 and H.R. 2500 before the end of the year. Major sticking points in negotiations have included the use of Defense Department funds to pay for the border wall. The 67-page “skinny” NDAA would renew only military authorities set to expire at the end of the year.
AAU, ASSOCIATIONS SEND LETTER URGING SUPPORT FOR NSF GRFP
AAU last week joined 44 other organizations on a letter to National Science Foundation Director France Córdova to encourage NSF to award the same amount of, or more, Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards in 2020 as in 2019. The letter says that “continuing to make the GRFP a priority at NSF will affirm to potential student scientists and engineers that more of them, not fewer, should pursue STEM careers, a goal we all share.”