On Friday, May 5, President Donald Trump signed H.R. 244, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 omnibus appropriations bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the current fiscal year (through September 30, 2017).
APLU President Peter McPherson’s statement on the FY2017 omnibus bill is available here and AAU President Mary Sue Coleman’s statement can be found here. Congress kept many programs at FY16 spending levels but did take action to support the Pell Grant by including provisions making it year-round and including a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The bipartisan agreement provides funding for the remaining eleven FY2017 appropriations bills (the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill was passed and enacted in September 2016) and meets the base discretionary spending caps set in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The omnibus also provides additional funding for national defense, border security, and some research and higher education priorities.
Below is a summary of key provisions of the omnibus bill as it relates to research; a detailed analysis is available here.
Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- The omnibus includes $1.059 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), an increase of $36.43 million from FY2016 enacted. The bill also would provide $375 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), a $25 million increase from FY2016 enacted.
Department of Defense
- Department of Defense, Science & Technology (S&T) (6.1-6.3)
The agreement would fund the Department of Defense Office of Science and Technology at $14.01 billion, a $760 million increase over FY2016 enacted level of $13.25 billion.
- Department of Defense, S&T, Basic Research (6.1)
The bill would provide $2.28 billion for S&T Basic Research, a $33 million decrease from FY2016.
- Department of Defense, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
The agreement would provide funding for DARPA at $2.94 billion, an increase of $48 million over the FY2016 enacted level of $2.89 billion.
Department of Education
- International Education and Foreign Language Studies (Title VI), $72 million, level with FY2016.
- Institute of Education Sciences (IES), $618 million, a cut of $13 million from FY2016. The cuts are to Research, Development, and Dissemination ($7.5 million), Statistics ($2.5 million), and Statewide Data Systems ($2.2 million). The National Center for Special Education Research was level-funded at $54 million.
Department of Energy
- Office of Science
The agreement would provide $5.39 billion for the Department of Energy Office of Science, $41.8 million more than the FY2016 enacted level of $5.35 billion.
- Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E)
The bill would provide $306 million for ARPA-E, $15 million more than the FY2016 enacted level of $291 million.
Department of Health and Human Services
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The bill would provide $34.1 billion for NIH, which is $2 billion more than the 2016 enacted level. This figure includes $352 million provided by the 21st Century Cures Act and previously included in the December 2016 Continuing Resolution.
Department of the Interior
- United States Geological Survey (USGS)
The bill would provide $6.5 million for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) and $17.5 million for the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, both the same as FY2016 enacted. The omnibus agreement also included $10.5 million for ShakeAlert, the earthquake early warning program. ShakeAlert is an earthquake early warning initiative that relies upon three U.S.G.S. seismic networks operated by four universities. UO and the University of Washington operate the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network in Oregon and Washington. Caltech and UC-Berkeley operate seismic networks in southern and northern California.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Science and Technology
The EPA Office of Science and Technology would be funded at $706 million, a $29 million reduction from the FY2016 enacted level of $735 million.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
NASA’s Science Mission Directorate would receive $5.765 billion, a $176 million increase over the FY2016 enacted level. Aeronautics Research would see a $20 million increase to $660 Million. The Space Technology Directorate would receive $687 million, the same as FY2016 enacted, with $130 million for the RESTORE-L satellite servicing program. Space Grant also would be level-funded at $40 million.
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
The NEH would be funded at $149.8 million, a $1.9 million increase from FY2016 enacted level of $147.9 million.
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The bill would provide $514 million for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research at NOAA. This figure is $32 million over the FY 2016 enacted level. The agreement provides $63 million for the National Sea Grant College Program.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
The FY2017 Omnibus Appropriations Act would fund NSF at $7.472 billion, an increase of $8.7 million (0.12%) over the FY2016 enacted level of $7.463 billion. The agreement includes $6.033 billion for Research and Related Activities, which is the same level of funding the directorate received in FY2016. The bill does not include language specifying funding for individual directorates, a threat in past years.
On student aid, the Omnibus funds the Pell Grant program at $22.5 billion which maintains the discretionary portion of the maximum award level at $4,860 for the 2017-2018 school year. After addition of the mandatory supplement, the maximum award increases by $105 to $5,920. The bill includes authorization language that would restore year-round Pell Grants, which is estimated to provide one million students an additional average disbursement of $1,650. The bill also rescinds $1.3 billion from the Pell surplus adopting the Senate’s FY2017 approach (surplus rescission) as opposed to the House approach (cut to discretionary funding). A Pell surplus of $6.2 billion would carry over to FY2018.
Additional appropriations levels of note:
- Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), $733 million, level with FY2016.
- Federal Work Study, $990 million, level with FY2016.
- Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN), $28 million, a cut of $1.2 million from FY2016.
- TRIO Programs, $950 million, up $50 million from FY2016.
- GEAR UP, $340 million, up $17 million from FY2016.
The Administration is expected to provide its detailed FY18 request to Congress during the week of May 22.