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Memo from APLU President: Key Senate Committee Votes to Protect F&A, Boost NIH & Pell Funding

Published on: 9/8/2017

The memorandum below is from Peter McPherson, President, Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU).

To: Council of Presidents

Cc: Council on Governmental Affairs
     Council on Research
     Council on Strategic Communications
     Council on Academic Affairs
     Council on Business Affairs

From: Peter McPherson, APLU President

Date: September 7, 2017

Re: Key Senate Committee Votes to Protect F&A, Boost NIH & Pell Funding

I wanted to let you know that the Senate Appropriations Committee today approved its Fiscal Year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations spending bill, which, like the corresponding House bill, includes critically important language protecting facilities and administrative (F&A) costs associated with NIH research. The bill also increases funding for NIH by $2 billion the over current year levels to bring total funding to $36.1 billion. This is the third consecutive year that Senators Blunt and Murray, the chair and ranking member of the LHHS-ED Subcommittee, have proposed such an increase for the NIH in their bipartisan bill.

You can read APLU's statement on the inclusion of the F&A language in the bill along with other positive provisions that I will detail below.

The Senate bill specifically instructs NIH to follow current OMB guidance on F&A payments and prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from developing or implementing changes to these rates. In addition, the bill report includes language stating "F&A costs are not optional; they are a fundamental part of doing research." With similar language in the House bill, we are one significant step closer to protecting the funding that makes cutting-edge biomedical research possible.

There is no doubt that your outreach - calls, letters and meetings - to your congressional delegations made a key difference. What started out as something that some policymakers considered low hanging fruit they could slash from the budget quickly became funding that was essential to their local universities' research activities once you helped explain the issue to them. Thank you for all of your hard work.

On the education side, we are pleased that the bill provides the first discretionary increase in the maximum Pell Grant in over a decade, raising the individual grant by $100 to $6,020. The discretionary increase is necessary as the mandatory Pell inflation adjustment expires at the end of the year. The bill rescinds $2.6 billion from the Pell surplus.

On other higher education programs, TRIO saw a modest increase. Federal Work Study, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, GEAR-UP, and Title VI International Education are level-funded as compared to last year. The Institute of Education Sciences would see a very small cut.

Overall, this is another strong rebuttal from Congress to the administration's budget request, which made steep cuts to many of these programs and proposed eliminating some others.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any question or concerns. You may also contact Jennifer Poulakidas (jpoulakidas@aplu.org), who is APLU's Vice President for Congressional & Governmental Affairs.

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