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AAU Statement on House and Senate FY16 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Bills


Following is a statement by the Association of American Universities on the research and higher education provisions in the FY16 Labor, HHS, Education appropriations bills passed by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

We greatly appreciate that the FY16 appropriations bills for Labor, HHS, Education approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees both include significant funding increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and sufficient funding to provide the scheduled increase in the maximum Pell Grant. We are concerned, however, by some significant cuts in the bills forced by the sequestration-level discretionary spending caps under which Congress is working.

We continue to encourage Congress and the President to craft a bipartisan budget agreement that eliminates these sequestration-level caps and addresses our country’s long-term budget challenges by enacting entitlement and tax reforms. Discretionary spending is not the cause of these long-term budget problems, and continuing the current caps will harm the country.

The much-needed NIH funding increases would help ensure that the United States remains on the cutting edge of biomedical research and garners the health and economic benefits that flow from that research. We thank both committees for their leadership on behalf of NIH, particularly given the constraints imposed by the current spending caps.

Pell Grants provide vital support for low-income college students and their families. We are pleased that both committees support steady increases in the maximum grants. In addition, the House committee-passed bill would bolster funding for both the TRIO and GEAR UP programs, and level fund Federal Work Study (FWS) and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), all of which are important to our students.

We are concerned, however, that both bills would cut funding for the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need program, which is one of the few remaining federal grant programs for graduate students, while the Senate bill would also cut funding for TRIO, GEAR UP, FWS, and FSEOG. In addition, both bills would cut funding for the Institute of Education Sciences, and the Senate bill would cut funding for Department of Education international education programs. We hope that these proposed cuts will be rescinded later in the appropriations process.

We encourage Congress and the President to take the steps needed to provide robust and sustainable funding for America’s research enterprise and for the national programs that enable and encourage Americans to attain a postsecondary education.

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The Association of American Universities (AAU) is an association of 60 U.S. and two Canadian public and private research universities. It focuses on issues such as funding for research, research policy issues, and graduate and undergraduate education. AAU member universities are on the leading edge of innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to the nation's economy, security, and wellbeing. AAU’s 60 U.S. universities award nearly one-half of all U.S. doctoral degrees and 55 percent of those in STEM fields.

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