Federal Research Funding Update: Impact of Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Federal Research Funding Update: Impact of Omnibus Appropriations Bill

On March 23, 2018, Congress passed an Omnibus Appropriations bill for FY 2018 that provided some significant increases in funding for various research and education programs of priority to the university. The bill also protected certain federal research and education programs that the Administration proposed to deeply cut or eliminate.  This is the result of a budget deal enacted by Congress in February that lifted caps on spending for defense by $80 billion and non-defense by $63 billion for the current fiscal year. 

Below is a summary of funding levels passed in the bill. 

The National Institutes of Health receives a $3 billion, 8.3% increase to $37 billion. That is well above the increase proposed by either the House of Representatives or the Senate in their versions of the spending bills, and a rejection of the 22% cut proposed by the Administration. 

The National Science Foundation gets $7.8 billion, a 3.9%, $295 million increase. The agency’s research account (R&RA) would grow by about 5%, to $6.3 billion. 

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science receives $6.26 billion, an $868 million increase. That is roughly a 15% increase, rather than the 15% cut the Administration proposed. Congress also rejected the Administration’s proposal to eliminate the Advanced Research Projects-Energy, and instead gave it a $47 million boost to $353 million.

NASA Science programs receive a $457 million (7.9%) increase, to $6.2 billion. The bill increases the agency’s planetary science program by about 21%, or $382 million, to $2.2 billion. NASA’s earth science programs remain flat at 2017 levels, but the bill rejects the Administration's proposed elimination of several earth science missions.

Spending at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grows by $234 million, to $5.9 billion overall. Funding for climate research would remain flat, but the final bill rejects cuts proposed by the Administration and the House.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology gets $1.2 billion, $247 million above 2017.

The National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts both receive an increase of $3 million (2%) to $152.8 million. The Administration proposed fully eliminating both programs.

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grows by $45 million, to $1.407 billion. The bill provides $400 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, a $25 million, or 6.7 percent, increase above the FY17 funding level.

For Department of Defense research:

  • $14.9 billion for Defense Science and Technology (S&T), up almost 6% from FY17
  • $2.34 billion for 6.1 basic research, up almost 3% from FY17:  Winners for 6.1 are Navy and Defense-wide who see 10.5% and 7.3% increases respectively. Army and Air Force 6.1 are down 3.5% and 4.5% respectively but were proposed for steeper cuts by the Administration.
  • $5.68 billion for 6.2 applied research, up almost 7% from FY17
  • $3.07 billion for DARPA, a 6.3% increase from FY17

Policy provisions of interest:

  • DACA: Congressional Democrats made one last push to include a long-term DACA fix in the omnibus but were not successful.  In the meantime, DACA recipients can continue to file for renewal of their DACA status based on recent court rulings.  We will continue to advocate for long-term legislative solutions with our members of Congress. 
  • 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 bill clarifies that “the CDC has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.”
  • FBI Headquarters: The bill would block all funding for the construction of a new FBI headquarters.  The Administration has proposed building the new headquarters at the current site in Washington, DC rather than the three finalist sites previously under consideration in Maryland and Virginia.
  • Purple Line: The bill funds the federal government’s share of the Purple Line, a light rail line linking Bethesda and New Carrollton, including 5 stops on campus.

Student Financial Aid:

  • Pell Grants: Increases the maximum Pell grant award by $175 (3%) to $6,095.  The bill includes the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, which automatically makes children of first responders who have died in the line of duty eligible for the maximum Pell Grant. Finally, the bill continues support for Year Round Pell.
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): The bill does not eliminate PSLF as proposed by the Administration and modifies eligibility to include students that enrolled in an ineligible repayment plan but would have otherwise been eligible.
  • Campus-Based Aid Programs: Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are funded at $840 million, a $107 million increase.  Federal Work Study is funded at $1.1 billion, a $140 million increase.
  • TRIO: $1.01 billion, a $60 million increase



March 23, 2018

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    University of Maryland
    College Park, MD 20742-1541

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