The House Appropriations Committee began the annual appropriations process in earnest this week, advancing the first of 12 funding bills for Fiscal Year 2020. In marked contrast to the President’s FY20 budget proposal, it was an encouraging start for University priorities, as appropriators approved substantial increases across student aid programs at the Department of Education and a $2 billion boost for the National Institutes of Health.
The White House yesterday released its topline budget request for Fiscal Year 2020, once again proposing increased spending on defense, large cuts to spending on non-defense and mandatory programs, and significant new funding for a border wall. Of these familiar themes, which were included in each of the President’s two prior budget requests, only a growing defense budget has come to fruition. With Democrats now in control of the House and the 2020 election cycle already underway, the President’s newest budget is no more likely to be enacted than previous versions. However, it does give...
Congress officially returns on January 3 to begin the 116th Congress with Democrats taking control of the House on the strength of their strong returns in November. Divided control of government will face an immediate challenge in the stalled efforts to address the partial government shutdown which began December 22. The new House leaders have pledged to act immediately on legislation to end the shutdown, although Republican Senate leaders indicate they will follow the President’s lead and are unlikely to take up the House legislation. With the shutdown heading into its second...
The Senate today overwhelmingly passed a two-bill spending package for FY19 comprised of the two largest annual funding bills – Labor-HHS-Education and Defense – which together make up about 63 percent of annual discretionary spending. It is a particularly important package for research universities since it provides strong increases for NIH (+5.4%), DARPA (+11.7%) and defense basic research (+11.8%), as well as a $100 increase to the maximum Pell Grant. Notably, FY19 will be the fourth straight year that NIH will receive a boost of at least $2 billion, bringing total funding to $9 billion more than NIH’s FY15 level.... Read more about Federal Update: Strong Outcomes for FY19
With attention focused on the White House and the upcoming November midterm elections, Congress made notable progress this summer on FY19 funding measures but returns this week to a busy and likely contentious fall session. Members will be working against several major deadlines: the start of the new fiscal year October 1, which will drive attention to appropriations, and the start of the fall Supreme Court term also on October 1, which conservatives are eying as a deadline for confirmation of nominee Brett Kavanaugh. In addition, Congress and the Administration will increasingly be focused on the midterms with majorities in the House and Senate hanging in the balance. While we will have to wait until November for clarity on who controls Capitol Hill, we know now that there will be a lot of new faces in the next Congress, given near record Republican retirements, a well as turnover on the Democratic side – including last night in Massachusetts, where Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley defeated 10-term Representative Michael Capuano in a district that includes Allston and Longwood.... Read more about Federal Update: September Outlook in Washington
While the White House continues to dominate the headlines, the House and Senate have been making steady progress on must-do legislation including FY19 funding measures and the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Recognizing the shortened legislative window in an election year, members continue to push for action on immigration, although so far these efforts have not proven successful at breaking the impasse. Heading into the July 4 congressional recess, we wanted to provide an update on Congress’s progress so far and give some indications of what to expect moving forward on University priorities.... Read more about Federal Update: Progress on the Congressional To-Do List
Bringing to an end the drawn-out negotiations over FY18 federal funding, Congressional leaders released a final omnibus-spending bill late Wednesday. The package allocates $1.3 trillion in FY18 funding across all government accounts and, on account of Congress’s agreement last month to eliminate the sequester, provides big increases for defense, as well as boosts to a number of University priorities, including a significant $3 billion increase for NIH.... Read more about Federal Update: Congress Releases Final FY18 Omnibus Funding bill
After Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY, AB’71, JD’74) unveiled a massive budget agreement on early Thursday, Congress moved quickly to continue government funding and pass this deal. There were objections to the deal from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) that led to a brief middle of the night shutdown but ultimately, the deal continuing funding and providing a $300 billion increase of discretionary funding for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 passed both houses with strong bipartisan votes of 71-28 and 240-186. The President signed the bill this morning.... Read more about Federal Update: Congress Approves Two-Year, $300 Billion Budget Increase
In its final week before adjourning for the year, Congress moved to clear the deck of some major outstanding issues, beginning with final passage of the tax reform bill (more information here) on Wednesday. With that package headed to the President’s desk for his signature, Congress turned its attention to funding the government ahead of the December 22 expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR). Unprepared to finalize spending for the year, lawmakers passed yet another short-term CR to provide stopgap funding at current spending levels through January 19.... Read more about Federal Update: Congress Passes Tax Reform, Avoids Shutdown, will Adjourn for the Year
Continuing at breakneck speed, conferees agreed Friday to a final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and released the language of the bill to the public late in the day. Final votes are expected in the House and Senate next week. After last minute jockeying by members, leadership has solidified Republican support for the bill and we do not anticipate further changes or roadblocks to its passage.... Read more about Federal Update: Tax Bill Emerges from Conference: A Mixed Bag for Higher Education
With the end of the year in sight, Capitol Hill is pushing forward in key areas. The list of legislative items in play with implications for the University are growing in urgency and in number, as tax reform efforts continue to advance, a major fiscal deadline looms, and lawmakers take the first steps on a long path toward reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Republicans are increasingly frustrated and worried with their lack of tangible legislative victories, particularly with the approaching midterm elections. We have seen that dynamic with the tax bill, which has moved quickly and with little appetite for careful examination of the details. On funding, politics and partisan gamesmanship are overshadowing serious negotiations over the top-line spending levels that are an essential first step in finalizing FY18 funding. Following is a more detailed overview of these recent activities in Washington and the outlook for the next several weeks.... Read more about Federal Update: Senate Approves Tax Package while Partisan Fights Stoke Fears of December Shutdown
After a month-long recess, Congress returned this week to a challenging slate of must-do items, looming deadlines, emergency funding requests for hurricane aid, and the rescinding of the DACA program. As congressional leaders consider how to address such an extensive list, they must navigate between the White House’s shifting priorities, limited consensus in their own ranks and mainly united Democratic opposition. Further, their strategy will now have to be reconsidered, as the President struck a surprise deal with Democrats this week to package emergency hurricane aid with a temporary stopgap funding measure and short-term suspension of the debt limit.... Read more about Federal Update: Returning from Summer Recess, Congress Faces a Full Schedule
Following up on March’s FY18 “skinny budget,” the Administration released the full FY18 presidential budget request today (full budget available here), titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” The full budget provides the details missing from the March outline (first reported here), but the overall themes are consistent: deep, fundamental cuts to many government agencies and programs, including research and education, and large increases for national and border security accounts. On the top line, the budget proposal claims it would reduce the deficit $5.6 trillion over a decade, assuming significant economic growth. The plan would cut $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years in non-Defense discretionary spending and would save a total of $3.6 trillion, in large part from cuts to mandatory funding of social safety nets like Medicaid, SNAP, Children’s Health Insurance, and Social Security Disability Insurance, hitting these low-income assistance programs particularly hard. The budget also proposes lifting the sequester cap in 2018 for Defense spending by $54 billion and lowering the non-Defense cap by a similar amount – an adjustment that would require a change in current law.... Read more about Federal Update: President Trump Releases Full FY18 Budget Request
After months of delay, Congress will move forward this week on a final Fiscal Year 2017 funding measure. Congressional leadership and appropriators announced a deal late last night that sidesteps major partisan differences and provides strong funding, including a $2 billion increase for NIH. It is expected the House will take up the measure toward the middle of the week with Senate action following and White House approval before the May 5 expiration of current stopgap funding.... Read more about Federal Update: Fiscal Year 2017 Funding