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Analysis of appropriations bill on federal funding

Posted on: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The long-term continuing resolution (CR) for FY2011 (H.R. 1473) was released April 11, 2011. The House passed the measure April 14th by a vote of 260 to 167. The Senate followed suit by passing it by a vote of 81 to 19. The President signed the resolution on April 15, and it became public law on that same day.

The summary below represents an initial analysis of the document by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities staff.

According to APLU, in the context of the overall budget environment currently facing federal policy-makers, higher education and scientific research fared reasonably well in this CR. This is especially true when compared to H.R. 1, which the House passed earlier this year.

General Provisions
Normally, an appropriations bill is accompanied by explanatory statements as well as a Report, which provide further direction and guidance to agencies on how funds are to be spent. With a long-term CR, however, no report will follow the bill, so the legislative text will serve as the sole guiding document.

Appropriations Committee staff advise that only the numbers specifically included in the bill are binding. They also inform that some of the cuts that have been reported are based on assumptions rather than legislative mandate. The bill text requires each agency to provide spending plans to Congress within 30 days of the measure's enactment, meaning that departments and agencies may have more flexibility than under normal circumstances.

The bill calls for an across-the-board 0.2 percent reduction for non-defense related discretionary funds in the bill, which is not included in the numbers below.

Student Financial Aid and Higher Education
The maximum Pell Grant award is maintained at $5,550 for the current year and $23.0 billion is appropriated for the program. The "Year-Round" Pell Program would be eliminated effective July 1. The CR also provides additional mandatory funds for Pell for this current and future years

The CR would eliminate the Leveraging Educational Assistance Program (LEAP) and would fund the Javits Graduate Fellowship Program at $8.1 million. Other sources have reported that Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG), TRIO, and GEAR UP would see reductions of $20 million, $25 million, and $20 million, respectively.

A different source is reporting that Title VI and Fulbright-Hays (International Education and Foreign Language Studies) programs will be cut by $50 million. The same source is reporting the Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) is funded at the current level of $26.9 million.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
NIH is provided $30.7 billion in FY2011, which is a $260-million (or 0.8 percent) reduction from FY2010. The cuts come from a $210-million pro rata reduction of all Institutes/Centers and Office of the Director and an additional $50-million decrease from the intramural buildings and facilities account. There are no policy references to the Cures Acceleration Network nor to the statutory mandates governing grant numbers or grant size that were included in H.R. 1.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
The CR cuts NSF overall by $52 million, or 0.8 percent, from FY2010 levels. Specifically, as compared to FY2010, the Research and Related Activities Account is cut by $42 million for a total funding level of $5.575 billion, and Education and Human Resources account is cut by $10 million to $862 million.

Department of Energy (DOE)
The DOE Office of Science receives $4.884 billion, which is $20 million below FY2010. This includes the elimination of $76 million in earmarks. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which did not receive an appropriation in FY2010 (but did so through ARRA), receives $180 million. The Fossil Energy R&D program is cut by $226 million compared to FY2010. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs receive $1.835 billion, which is $408 million below FY2010, and includes a rescission of $292 million in earmarks.

Department of Defense (DoD)
According to the House Appropriations Committee release, the CR provides $75 billion for research and development, and $31.4 billion for Defense health programs. This legislation eliminates all Defense earmark account funding, a cut of $4.2 billion from last year's level.

NASA
The bill appropriates $18.5 billion for NASA and fully funds the newly authorized exploration program. The Science Mission Directorate is funded at $4.945 billion. NASA Aeronautics is funded at $535 million, $38 million more than FY2010 levels. NASA Education is funded at $145 million, a cut of $38 million compared to FY2010. There is no funding specified for Space Technology program. The bill prohibits NASA and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to engage in bilateral activities with China.

National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Overall, the agency would be funded at $752 million, which is $55 million above H.R. 1 but $167 million below the FY 2011 requested level. Specifically, the CR cuts the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) by $25 million compared to FY2010 levels, funding the program at $44 million, while funding the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program at $128.7 million, which is slightly above FY2010 levels. The Construction of Research Facilities money appropriated to NIST is prohibited from being applied to the Competitive Construction program.

Economic Development Administration (EDA)
The CR provides $284 million for the EDA. EDA's grant program is funded at $246 million, which is $11 million more than FY2010 and the same as the FY2011 request.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA)
The CR provides NOAA with $4.6 billion, which is $947 million below the FY2011 requested level. This level requires administrative and overhead reductions and does not provide NOAA the funding increase requested for the Joint Polar Satellite System. The CR cuts NOAA Operations, Research, and Facilities by $119 million compared to FY2010 levels, which just reflects the recession of earmarks. It also prohibits funding for the establishment of a Climate Service at NOAA.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
NEH is reduced by $13 million from last year's levels, which represents a $6-million cut from the President's FY2011 request.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
The CR cuts DHS's Science and Technology programs by $175 million compared to FY2010 levels; however, it includes a provision which specifically states, "funding for university programs shall not be reduced by more than twenty percent from the fiscal year 2010 level."

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA is reduced by $1.6 billion, a 16-percent decrease from FY2010 levels.. EPA climate change funding bill-wide is cut by $49 million, or 13 percent.

United States Geological Survey (USGS)
The USGS overall is cut by $26 million compared to FY2010 levels.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The CR provides $100 million for the HUD Sustainable Communities initiative, which is $50 million below the FY 2010 enacted level. While the formula fund for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs remains the same, the CR eliminates funding for the Economic Development Initiative (EDI) and the Neighborhood Initiative (NI) grants as well as support for the University Communities Fund.

Department of Agriculture
A separate analysis was provided earlier yesterday to the CGA. As a reminder, the bill funds the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at $264.5 million, an increase of $2 million over FY 2010. This morning APLU colleague Eddie Gouge sent the CGA a separate analysis on the USDA programs outlining the funding levels for the major programs.

USAID
According to a source, the bill provides $2.4 billion for development assistance activities, $80 million below the FY2010 levels. The same source reports that there is no specific amount directed to the Feed the Future Initiative.

The Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSPs) are level-funded at $31.5 million and the Africa-U.S. higher education partnerships program is level-funded at $15 million. Significantly, the bill changes any "shall" to "should" in the Development Assistance section which, may impact how USAID interprets the bill language for these two programs.