First published in Around the O. In mid-March, Congress passed the FY18 omnibus appropriations bill – H.R. 1625, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 – to fund the federal government until the end of the current fiscal year, ending September 30, 2018. On March 23, President Donald Trump signed the package into law.
Congressional action followed a decision by Congress to lift the budget caps for FY18 and FY19, clearing obstacles to funding programs at near current levels and, in some cases, well above current levels. On balance, national higher education associations, including the Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) applauded the action particularly as it related to record investment in the National Institutes of Health. Read the AAU statement here and the APLU statement here.
Since passage of the Omnibus, the Trump Administration has threatened, and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has confirmed, the office will formally proposes a package of rescissions to the Omnibus to Congress. The Budget Act of 1974 allows the president to submit a rescission resolution to Congress - within 45 days after a spending law has passed - identifying appropriations the president does not want to spend. Multiple appropriations rescissions can be provided to Congress in a single request and Congress may approve all, some, or none of the President's request. It is unusual for a president submit such a package of spending cuts after passage of a budget with his own party in control of Congress. Which funds may be proposed for rescissions and prospects for congressional approval are both unclear.
FY18 agency round-up:
Congress continues to prioritize student aid. The omnibus funds the Pell Grant program at $22.475 billion and in combination with mandatory funding the maximum award is raised to $6,095 (+$175) for the 2018-19 school year.
• Federal Work Study (FWS) is funded at $1.13 billion, a $140 million, or 14.1 percent increase above FY17.
• Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) is funded at $840 million, a $107 million, or 14.6 percent increase over FY17.
• Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) is funded at $23 million, reflecting a $5 million or 18 percent cut below FY17.
FY18 funding for federal agencies and programs of interest to the UO and other research universities includes the following.
National Institutes of Health (NIH): The omnibus provides funding for NIH at $37.084 billion, an increase of $3 billion, or 8.8 percent, above the FY17 level. This figure includes $496 million from the 21st Century Cures Act. The agreement also directs NIH to delay enforcement of the clinical trials expansion, maintains the salary cap at Executive Level II, and does not contain any riders limiting access to scientific materials. Report language also states that NIH cannot depart from its current method of negotiating facilities and administrative payment rates.
Department of Education (ED): Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is funded at $613.5 million, an $8 million, or 1.4 percent increase above FY17. International Education and Foreign Language Studies (Title VI) is funded at $72 million, the same level as FY17.
National Science Foundation (NSF): The omnibus provides $7.8 billion for NSF, an increase of $295 million, or 4 percent, above the FY17 funding level. The Research and Related Activities Directorate receives an appropriation of $6.33 billion, which is an increase of $301 million over FY17. The Education and Human Resources Directorate receives $902 million, an increase of $22 million over FY17. The omnibus also includes $182.8 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction, which is a $26 million decrease from FY17.
Department of Energy (DoEn): The omnibus provides $6.26 billion for the DOE Office of Science, an increase of $868 million, or 16 percent, above FY17. The measure also funds the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) at $353 million, a $47 million, or 15.5 percent, increase above FY17.
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): The omnibus provides $152.8 million for NEH, a $3 million, or 2 percent, increase above the FY17 funding level.
Department of Defense (DOD): The measure includes $2.34 billion for 6.1 basic research, a $64 million, or 3 percent, increase above FY17. Army and Air Force 6.1 basic research accounts are cut 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively. The bill provides funding for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at $3.1 billion, an increase of 8 percent over FY17. The omnibus also includes a $50 million rescission listed as DARPA undistributed reduction.
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI): The omnibus provides $400 million for the initiative, a $25 million, or 6.7 percent, increase above the FY17 funding level.
Other Provisions of Interest:
Dickey Amendment and Gun Violence Research: While appropriations language prohibits the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other Health agencies from using appropriated funding to advocate or promote gun control, the omnibus clarifies that “the CDC has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.”