Pres. Obama’s budget request to be released Feb 9

With FY16 finally in the process of being implemented after its passage in December 2015, the Administration is looking towards next year. The president’s FY17 budget proposal will be released February 9, 2016, a week after the statutory requirement.  Among expected proposals are expansions to the Pell Grant program as well as funding for the president’s “moonshot” goal to cure cancer. 

The US Department of Education has announced two new proposals to expand the Pell Grant program. The first program, “On Track Pell Bonus,” would grant an additional $300 in assistance for students taking more than 15 credit hours per semester. The Administration estimates 2.3 million individuals would benefit from this bonus. The second proposal, “Pell for Accelerated Completion,” would restore year-round aid by allowing students who exhaust Pell Grant benefits an additional disbursement during the summer.  The expansions are expected to cost $2 billion.

For FY17, the president is also expected to propose $755 million to fund his “moonshot” goal to cure cancer. Most of the funding would support research at the National Institutes of Health, with $75 million going to the Food and Drug Administration to improve data infrastructure. The president’s proposal has already been questioned. There are concerns about the emphasis on sharing research data and the “moonshot” is not seen by all as the best means of finding cures for cancer.

The US Senate has also begun work for FY17. The Senate is currently considering a comprehensive, bipartisan energy reauthorization bill. The bill contains research provisions that would increase funding authorization for the energy programs in the America COMPETES Act, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. 
US Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) are leading the bipartisan group supporting the reauthorization. In a statement, Sen. Alexander said the reauthorization would sustain funding increases for “important DOE basic science and high-risk, high reward research programs,” as well as “boost opportunities for developing new forms of clean energy, conserving existing resources”.

The FY16 budget is in the process of being implemented. That effort includes developing spending plans for the funding increase for geoscience research the National Science Foundation secured in last year’s budget. The University of Oregon joined a letter thanking the Director of NSF for her leadership in support of the Geosciences directorate, as well as encouraging the spending plan to benefit the GEO directorate.