Federal Update: President Biden Releases Detailed FY22 Budget Request

June 4, 2021

In the first budget request of his presidency, President Joe Biden is proposing historic increases in non-defense discretionary funding. April’s preview of the discretionary spending proposal provided topline information – $1.52 trillion total, with $769 billion for non-defense (+16 percent) and $753 billion for defense (+1.7 percent) – but few details. The full budget request provides details on the Biden Administration’s priorities for education, health, climate, and social programs as part of the annual spending process, which would be complemented by the President’s ambitious American Jobs and Families Plans. Although Congress will revise or reject parts of the proposal, the budget request is a significant marker of the Administration’s priorities and a useful tool in building momentum for its proposals. And with a Democratic Congress, the budget carries additional weight this year, although Republicans and progressive Democrats alike have been critical of the defense spending levels, with the former arguing that it is not enough and the latter arguing that it is too much. For nondefense discretionary spending the budget provides strong increases in education, research, and humanities, which, even if only partially adopted, will have a positive impact on the university-federal partnership. Still, any spending deal will need to attract at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate, making it likely that a short term spending resolution will be needed to fund the government this fall as negotiations continue beyond the October 1 start of the fiscal year.

The President’s Budget

After years of budget requests that sought deep cuts to federal science agencies, the FY22 budget request seeks to increase federal spending on R&D by 9 percent, or $13.5 billion, in what the President called the “biggest increase in nondefense R&D spending on record.” Specifically, the budget seeks an additional $9 billion for the National Institutes of Health, of which $6.5 billion would be used to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). With the exception of DOD basic research, the President also is seeking large increases for other science and engineering accounts, with a new emphasis on using science to combat climate change and disease and to bolster the economy.

The budget request also seeks to increase total funding for the Department of Education by 41 percent, doubling the investment in disadvantaged K-12 schools and providing a $400 discretionary boost to the maximum Pell Grant, which the President hopes to supplement with additional funding in his American Families Plan for potential maximum Pell award of $8,370 in FY22. While the President proposes increased funding for TRIO programs, his budget asks for flat funding for Federal Work-Study, SEOG, and Title VI international education.

Below is a chart of the President’s proposed funding across University priority accounts:

 

 

Final FY21

FY21 v FY20

FY22 PBR

FY22 PBR v FY21

 

 

   

Labor-HHS-Education

 

 

 

 

   

NIH

42934

3.0%

51952.7

21.0%

   

Pell Grants (Discretionary Funding)

22475

0.0%

25475.4

13.3%

   

Pell Grants (Max Grant)

6495

2.4%

8370

28.9%

   

Federal Perkins Loans

 

 

 

 

   

Work Study

1190

0.8%

1190

0.0%

   

SEOG

880

1.7%

880

0.0%

   

TRIO

1097

0.6%

1297

18.2%

   

GEAR UP

368

0.8%

408

10.9%

   

Title VI

78.2

2.6%

78.2

0.0%

   

GAANN

23.5

2.2%

24

2.1%

   

Institute of Education Sciences

642.5

3.0%

737.5

14.8%

   

Institute of Museum and Library Services

257.0

2.0%

265

3.1%

   

Commerce-Justice-Science

 

 

 

 

   

NSF -Total

8486.8

2.5%

10169.3

19.8%

   

NSF- Research and Related

6909.8

2.6%

8139.7

17.8%

   

NSF - Major Research Equipment

241

-0.9%

249

3.3%

   

NSF - Ed & HR

968

3.0%

1287.3

33.0%

   

NASA -Total

23271.3

2.8%

24721.3

6.2%

   

NASA - Science

7301

2.3%

7931.4

8.6%

   

NASA - Aeronautics

828.7

5.7%

914.8

10.4%

   

NASA - STEM Engagement

127

5.8%

147

15.7%

   

Defense

 

 

 

 

   

6.1 Basic Research

2671.5

2.6%

2283

-14.5%

   

6.2 Applied Research

6446.1

6.2%

5509

-14.5%

   

DARPA

3571.3

3.2%

3528.7

-1.2%

   

Energy and Water

 

 

 

 

   

Office of Science - Total

7026

0.4%

7440

5.9%

   

High Energy Physics

1046

0.1%

1061

1.4%

   

Nuclear Physics

713

0.0%

720

1.0%

   

Basic Energy Sciences

2245

1.4%

2300

2.4%

   

Biological and Envir. Research

753

0.4%

828

10.0%

   

ARPA-E

427

0.5%

500

17.1%

   

Interior-Environment

 

 

 

 

   

NEA

167.5

3.3%

201

20.0%

   

NEH

167.5

3.3%

177.6

6.0%

   

EPA S&T

729.3

1.8%

830

13.8%

   

 

Outlook

With the President’s budget in hand, Congressional appropriators will ramp up their work on the FY22 funding process. With hearings already underway, committees in both chambers are looking to begin marking up draft spending proposals in coming weeks. Although appropriators are free from the Budget Control Act’s low caps, they have not established a topline spending figure or agreed how to divvy up funding across all 12 Appropriations subcommittees. In addition, it is anticipated the Democrats, if they can stay united, will want to adopt a budget resolution to set these levels as well as to unlock the reconciliation process, which could be used to pass some or all of the President’s infrastructure plan solely with Democratic votes. Another complicating budget issue likely to get rolled into the funding debates is the federal debt limit, which is currently suspended until the end of July. Given this significant pile up of issues, it seems likely this will be a long fall with a likelihood of short-term funding extensions along with lots of drama.

As always, Harvard’s DC-based federal relations office will remain closely engaged in support of University priorities. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Suzanne Day (suzanne_day@harvard.edu) or Kara Haas (kara_haas@harvard.edu).