Policy Update: January 14, 2014

Below is a summary of the Omnibus Appropriations bill and its impact on Northeastern. Congress now has to pass the bill, and the President must sign it, but I anticipate that happening this week.

Appropriations Summary

Yesterday, the House and Senate Congressional Appropriations Committees completed an agreement on a $1.012 trillion omnibus spending package that would fund nearly every federal government agency under the twelve new appropriations bills. Congress has not been able to pass this type of agreement in years, and over all, it is positive for Northeastern.

The measure provides a 2.6 percent increase in discretionary spending from the $986.3 billion, sequester-set level of fiscal 2013. Spending had been set to fall again to $967 billion, but the plan adheres to new caps on defense and domestic discretionary spending set under last month’s House-Senate budget deal of $520.5 billion and $491.8 billion, respectively. Having some certainty in the over all budget for two years going forward is also very positive.

Research Funding

Overall, research funding faired a lot better then was originally anticipated in the wake of sequestration. Considering the dramatic cuts from FY’13, the science agencies will benefit from increased funding. While it would have been preferable to see larger increases, given what we were facing, these numbers are a positive outcome. The bill also mentions a focus on research topics such as cyber security, which we have great strength in.

AGENCY

FY'14 FUNDING LEVEL

LEVEL OF INCREASE

(POST SEQUESTRATION)

NIH $29.9 billion $1 billion
NSF $7.2 billion $265.2 million
DHS S&T $1.2 billion

$382 Million (University Centers of Excellences cut by 1%)

DOE Science

$5.071 billion

$195 million
DoD 6.1 research $2.17 billion $36.7 million
NASA $17.646 billion $119.8 million
NIST $850 million $41.3 million

Education Funding

Overall, funding for federal higher education programs also faired well, including financial aid. The maximum Pell Grant would increase from $5,645to $5,730; the TRIO and GEAR UP programs would be restored to pre-sequester levels. In addition, the bill includes $75 million for “First in the World” grants, which are designed to inspire innovative approaches to reducing college costs and improving higher education outcomes. The bill specifically does not fund the $1 billion proposed “Race to the Top” for higher education. Finally, the agreement also includes $1 million fund a study on the effects that the current regulations and reporting requirements have on higher education institutions. The bill also calls for stronger reporting requirements from the Department of Education on enrollment, graduation and default rates for Pell Grant recipients, disaggregated by institution.