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FY 2016 Omnibus Bill Boosts Funding for Education Research
 
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December 2015

U.S. House of Representatives and Senate leaders have reached a deal on an omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the government through September 30, the end of the 2016 fiscal year. The bill, introduced by lawmakers on December 16, was signed by President Obama on Friday, December 18.

The omnibus bill comes after Congress passed a budget deal in November that suspended the debt limit until March 2017 and raised budget caps for discretionary spending by 5.2% for FY 2016. This provided an opportunity for House and Senate appropriators to increase funding for programs, including education research.

Institute of Education Sciences

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) received $618 million, an increase of $44 million, or 7.7%, over FY 2015 numbers. The allocations for each of the budget line items follow:

Funding for Institute of Education Sciences, 2015 and 2016

  FY 2015 Enacted
(in millions of dollars)
FY 2016 PBR
(in millions of dollars)
FY 2016 Omnibus
(in millions of dollars)
FY 2016
Omnibus v. FY 2015
FY 2016
Omnibus v. PBR
Institute of Education Sciences  574 676 618 7.7% -8.6%

Research, Development and Dissemination 

180  202  195  8.3%  -3.5% 

Regional Education Laboratories 

54  54  54  0.0%  0.0% 

Statistics (National Center for Education Statistics) 

103  125  112  8.7%  -10.4% 

Assessment 

137  157  157  14.6%  -5.1% 

Statewide Data Systems 

34  70  34  0.0%  -51.4% 

Special Education Studies and Evaluations 

11  13  11  0.0% -15.4% 

Research in Special Education 

54  54  54  0.0%  0.0% 

Note. PBR = Presidential budget request.

The increase is good news for research in the current climate, especially since the House appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies that passed in July would have cut funding for Research, Development, and Dissemination by nearly half and cut all funding for the Regional Educational Laboratories.

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) received an increase of $119 million over the FY 2015 amount. Within NSF, the Research and Related Activities account saw a boost of $100 million, and the Education and Human Resources Directorate saw an increase of $14 million. In addition, the conference report included language that would provide for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate to be funded at “up to” FY 2015 numbers. This outcome also is more favorable than the picture coming out of the House. The House Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill included report language that would have limited the amount NSF should spend on SBE and the Geosciences Directorate.

The allocations for NSF follow:

Funding for National Science Foundation, 2015 and 2016

  FY 2015
Enacted
(in millions of dollars) 
FY 2016
PBR
(in millions of dollars)
 
FY 2016
Omnibus
(in millions of dollars)
 
FY 2016 Omnibus v.
FY 2015
 
FY 2016
Omnibus v. PBR
 
National Science Foundation  7,344  7,723  7,463  1.6%  -3.4% 

Education and Human Resources 

866  963  880  1.6%  -8.6% 

Research and Related Activities 

5,934  6,186  6,034 1.7%  -2.5% 

Note. PBR = Presidential budget request.

National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would see a $2 billion increase overall. The following table includes a summary of funding for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Office of the Director, which includes the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. The report language also includes a directive to NIH to continue moving forward on directions from the House and Senate Appropriations Committees regarding follow-on activities on the National Children’s Study.

Funding for National Institutes of Health, 2015 and 2016

  FY 2015 Enacted
(in billions of dollars)
 
FY 2016 PBR
(in billions of dollars)
 
FY 2016 Omnibus
(in billions of dollars)
 
FY 2016
Omnibus v.
FY 2015
 
FY 2016
Omnibus v.
PBR
 
National Institutes of Health  30.08  31.08  32.08  6.6%  3.2% 

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 

1.29  1.32  1.34  3.9%  1.5% 

Office of the Director 

1.40  1.43  1.56  11.4%  9.1% 

Note. PBR = Presidential budget request.

AERA Action

Since the budget deal was first announced in November, AERA has been leading and working with coalitions to encourage appropriators to bolster support for education research agencies. AERA is an active member of the Coalition for National Science Funding and the Friends of IES.

AERA signed on to a letter from scientific coalitions, industry groups, and higher education associations to increase investments in federal research by 5.2% over FY 2015 allocations.

The Friends of IES sent a letter to House appropriators seeking $604 million for IES. This amount would restore FY 2016 funding to FY 2015 levels—in response to a proposed $164 million cut in the House Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill—and provide for a 5.2% increase. Fourteen members of the House also signed on to a Dear Colleague letter asking the House Appropriations Committee to fund IES at least at the FY 2015 level of $574 million.

 
 
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