Federal Update: Progress on the Congressional To-Do List

June 29, 2018

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.

Appropriations

The FY19 appropriations process is off to its fastest start in recent memory. Aided by a February budget deal that ended the sequester and set top-line funding for the year, the President's vow not to sign another trillion dollar omnibus and, in the Senate, a bipartisan agreement between newly-appointed Democratic and Republican committee leaders to avoid “poison-pill” policy riders, the House and Senate have taken some action on each of the twelve FY19 appropriations bills. To date, both chambers have already passed three bills, including one funding research at the Department of Energy, which they will now work to reconcile.

While topline funding for FY19 is only nominally higher than FY18, appropriators have so far signaled their intention to continue growing most research budgets, though student aid programs are so far seeing modest increases or level funding. With the process moving quickly and some significant differences between House and Senate versions, below is a brief summary of some priority accounts for the University. A full chart of accounts we follow closely is available at the end of this update.

Labor-HHS-Education

· Approved in House subcommittee; awaiting full committee consideration (postponed twice):

o NIH: $38.3 billion (+3.4%, $1.25 billion increase)

o Maximum Pell Grant: $6,095 (0% change)

· Approved in Senate full committee – with an overall $2 billion higher allocation than House:

o NIH: $39 billion (+5.2%, $2 billion increase)

o Maximum Pell Grant: $6,195 (+1.6%)

The House version of the bill once again includes a provision barring the Administration from changing NIH’s Facilities and Administrative costs reimbursement rate, but it also includes a policy rider restricting the use of fetal tissue from “induced abortions” for research. The Senate version also rescinds $1.1 billion from the Pell surplus, using those funds to offsets increases in the bill including the Pell maximum.

Commerce-Justice-Science

Approved in both House and Senate committees

· NSF: $8.2 billion (+5.2% House); $8.1 billion (+3.9% Senate)

· NASA: $21.5 billion (+3.9% House); $21.3 billion (+2.8% Senate)

Defense

Approved by the House

· Basic Research: $2.3 billion (-1.9%)

· Applied Research: $5.6 billion (-1.9%)

· DARPA: $3.4 billion (+10.3%)

Approved in Senate full committee

· Basic Research: $2.8 billion (+19.4%)

· Applied Research: $5.6 billion (-1.8%)

· DARPA: $3.1 billion (-0.3%)

Energy-Water

Respective versions passed full House and Senate; conference will convene to resolve

· DOE Office of Science: $6.6 billion (+5.4% House); $6.65 billion (+6.2% Senate)

· ARPA-E: $325 million (-8% House); $375 million (+6.1% Senate)

Interior-Environment

Approved in both House and Senate committees

· NEH/NEA: $155 million each (+1.4% House and Senate)

National Defense Authorization Act

The House and Senate have each approved a version of the annual defense authorization bill, which is important both for the funding levels the measure recommends (but does not appropriate) for defense S&T accounts, as well as for defense research-related policy issues of interest to universities. The bill is currently heading to a House/Senate conference to resolve the differences remaining.

On funding, the House authorized $2.3 billion (-2.3%) for 6.1 basic research and $3.4 billion (+11.8%) for DARPA. For its part, the Senate approved $2.3 billion (-0.1%) and $3.1 billion (+1.7%) for 6.1 basic research and DARPA, respectively. These levels are non-binding on appropriators but are important markers, as they indicate a level of support (or lack thereof) among important and influential committees.

On the other hand, the policy provisions included in the final enacted bill, will be binding. An area of mutual concern that has emerged is around potential economic and national security espionage in defense-sponsored university labs and academic centers. Both chambers approved new provisions that touch on these concerns, with a particular focus on academic espionage by Chinese nationals. The House included an amendment that would restrict defense funding from any individual who has or is participating in a foreign talent recruitment program, while the Senate included language prohibiting funding for Chinese language instruction provided by a Confucius Institute, or that supports a Chinese language program at a college or university that hosts such an Institute – though a waiver process is also outlined. The research university community is actively working with congressional staff and national security agencies to address their heightened interest in the security of sensitive information and intellectual property in the effort to inform and shape the ultimate language included in the NDAA.

Immigration

Illustrating once again how difficult immigration legislation is to pass, the House has struggled unsuccessfully with immigration for much of the last month. Early in July, moderate Republicans and Democrats seemed on the cusp of pushing forward a slate of bills to the full House that would have included the DREAM Act as well as more conservative and conservative-leaning measures. But that effort was sidelined with a commitment from the Speaker to consider two bills – a hardline measure supported by conservative Republicans and a compromise measure intended to bridge the divide between the two flanks of the Republican House Caucus. The culmination of these divisive negotiations among House Republicans was consideration of a hardline immigration reform bill authored by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) last week, which failed 193-231, and a vote this week on “compromise” legislation crafted by House Republican leadership that satisfied few and failed on a vote of 121-301. Democrats were not involved in writing either bill, and no Democrats voted for either.

The House's efforts on immigration come on the heels of other failed legislative efforts to respond to the crisis in immigration. During a week dedicated to immigration in February in the Senate, a strong bipartisan plan emerged that paired a path to citizenship for Dreamers with increased border security but failed to obtain the necessary 60 votes in the face of strong White House opposition. Similarly just this week, members have struggled so far unsuccessfully to identify a path forward to protect and safeguard families attempting entering the US on the Southern border. With elections looming and the hardening of positions on this issue, Congress seems unlikely to manage additional serious efforts on immigration reforms ahead of the midterms.

Looking Ahead

When Congress returns from its July 4 recess, time will be quickly running out on the summer session. The House will take the traditional summer recess of August (and the Senate breaking with tradition will remain to town to consider nominees, perhaps including a Supreme Court nominee), leaving just September to legislate ahead of the new fiscal year. On appropriations, despite the earnest and productive efforts of both parties on FY19 appropriations to date, the realities of the calendar will likely force Republican leadership to consider some kind of stopgap continuing resolution (CR) before October 1 to avoid either a difficult vote on a large spending package or an embarrassing shutdown right before a competitive election. The fall will also likely be dominated by political initiatives popular on the campaign trail, such as new tax cuts, that will attract attention but have little to no chance of passage.

Congress is scheduled to return after the elections to complete its business for the year, with the results of the election shaping what ultimately gets done.

As always, we will remain engaged at every step of the process with leadership, alumni, and key members to advocate for University priorities. Please feel free to reach out to Suzanne Day (suzanne_day@harvard.edu) or Jon Groteboer (jon_groteboer@harvard.edu) with any questions.

 

 

Final FY18

FY19 House Committee

House Committee vs. FY18

FY19 Senate Committee

Senate Committee vs. FY18

 
 

Labor-HHS-Education

 

 

 

 

 

 

NIH

37084

38334

3.4%

39084

5.4%

 

Pell Grants (Discretionary Funding)

22475

22475

0.0%

22475

0.0%

 

Pell Grants (Max Grant)

6095

6095

0.0%

6195

1.6%

 

Federal Perkins Loans

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Study

1130

1130

0.0%

1130

0.0%

 

SEOG

840

840

0.0%

840

0.0%

 

TRIO

1010

1060

5.0%

1010

0.0%

 

GEAR UP

350

360

2.9%

350

0.0%

 

Title VI

72.2

72.2

0.0%

72.2

0.0%

 

GAANN

23

23

0.0%

23

0.0%

 

Institute of Education Sciences

613.5

613.5

0.0%

615.5

0.3%

 

Institute of Museum and Library Services

240

240

0.0%

242

0.8%

 

Commerce-Justice-Science

 

 

 

 

 

 

NSF -Total

7767.4

8175

5.2%

8068.4

3.9%

 

NASA -Total

20736.1

21546

3.9%

21323.1

2.8%

 

NASA - Science

6221.5

6680.6

7.4%

6400.5

2.9%

 

Defense

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.1 Basic Research

2343.2

2298.1

-1.9%

2798.5

19.4%

 

6.2 Applied Research

5681.8

5571.2

-1.9%

5577.3

-1.8%

 

DARPA

3071.6

3388.8

10.3%

3446.6

12.2%

 

Energy and Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

Office of Science - Total

6259.9

6600

5.4%

6650

6.2%

 

ARPA-E

353.3

325

-8.0%

375

6.1%

 

Interior-Environment

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEA

152.8

155

1.4%

155

1.4%

 

NEH

152.8

155

1.4%

155

1.4%

 

EPA S&T

706.5

643.8

-8.9%

706.5

0.0%

 

Prepared by the Office of Federal Relations. Last updated June 2018.