Senate Appropriations Committee Releases FY 2021 Bills
Senate Appropriations Committee Releases FY 2021 Bills
 
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November  2020

On November 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee made public all 12 bills to provide funding for FY 2021. The federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution for FY 2021 that expires on December 11.

The bills include modest increases for federal agencies that fund education research and support statistical collections on education indicators, although smaller than the amounts included in the House bills. The Senate rejected many of the cuts and policy proposals recommended in the Trump administration’s budget request, including those related to reauthorizing the Education Sciences Reform Act that are strongly opposed by AERA. They included establishing a new assessment center, eliminating authorization for the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems program, and shifting the responsibility for appointing the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) from the president to the director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

The Senate bill also does not include the language in the House bill that addressed the low number of staff at NCES, which is of deep concern to AERA. The House bill contained language expressing concerns over the reduced staffing and requesting a report from the Department of Education outlining how the department will increase staffing at NCES, as well as an analysis of funding for staff at IES in a dedicated appropriations account outside of the program administration account.

Institute of Education Sciences Appropriations

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-H) appropriations bill includes $635.5 million for IES, a $12 million increase over the FY 2020 amount and $5 million more than the House bill. Unlike the House bill, which would provide additional funding for all budget line items except Assessment, the Senate bill would increase funding only for Assessment. That was also the only area in the president’s budget request with proposed additional funding (see chart below).

Institute of Education Sciences (in millions)

 

FY 2020 Final

FY 2021 President's Budget Request

FY 2020 Final v. FY 2021 Request (%)

FY 2020 Final v. FY 2021 Request ($)

FY 2021 (House)

FY 2021 House v. FY 2020 (%)

FY 2021 (Senate)

FY 2021 Senate v. FY 2020 (%)

Institute of Education Sciences

$623.5

$565.4

-9.3%

-$58.1

$630.5

1.1%

$635.5

1.9%

Research, Development and Dissemination

$195.9

$195.9

0.0%

$0.0

$197.9

1.0%

$195.9

0.0%

Regional Educational Laboratories

$56.0

$0.0

-100.0%

-$56.0

$57.0

1.8%

$56.0

0.0%

Statistics

$110.5

$113.5

2.7%

$3.0

$111.5

0.9%

$110.5

0.0%

Assessment

$160.7

$188.7

17.4%

$28.0

$160.7

0.0%

$172.7

7.5%

Statewide Data Systems

$33.0

$0.0

-100.0%

-$33.0

$33.5

1.5%

$33.0

0.0%

Special Education Studies and Evaluations

$10.8

$10.8

0.0%

$0.0

$11.3

4.8%

$10.8

0.0%

Research in Special Education

$56.5

$56.5

0.0%

$0.0

$58.5

3.5%

$56.5

0.0%

 

National Science Foundation Appropriations

The House Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill would provide the National Science Foundation (NSF) $8.48 billion, an increase of nearly $200 million, or 2.5 percent, over FY 2020 levels. This amount is slightly lower than the House topline number of $8.55 billion. Within NSF, Research and Related Activities would receive $6.91 billion, $170.2 million more than in FY 2020, and the Education and Human Resources Directorate (EHR) would receive $963.5 million, an increase of $23.5 million. In contrast, the president’s budget proposed slashing the NSF budget by $537 million.

National Science Foundation (in millions)

 

FY 2020 Final

FY 2021 President's Budget Request

FY 2020 Final v. FY 2021 Request (%)

FY 2020 Final v. FY 2021 Request ($)

FY 2021 (House)

FY 2021 House v. FY 2020 (%)

FY 2021 (Senate)

FY 2021 Senate v. FY 2020 (%)

National Science Foundation

$8,278.3

$7,741.4

-6.5%

-$536.9

$8,548.3

3.3%

$8,478.0

2.4%

Education and Human Resources

$940.0

$930.9

-1.0%

-$9.1

$970.0

3.2%

$963.5

2.5%

Research and Related Activities

$6,737.2

$6,213.0

-7.8%

-$524.2

$6,967.1

3.4%

$6,907.4

2.5%


The Senate report language calls for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences Directorate to receive no less than the FY 2020 level, noting, “The Committee supports SBE and recognizes the fundamental importance of the research it supports in advancing our understanding of human behavior and its application to a wide range of human systems, including public health, national defense and security, education and learning, and the integration of human and machine.” Like the House bill, the Senate bill includes $20 million for the NSF INCLUDES program.

National Institutes of Health Appropriations

The Senate Labor-H bill would provide $43.7 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase of $2 billion, or 4.8 percent, over FY 2020 levels. The Senate numbers are lower than the House bill, the latter of which proposed $5 billion in emergency funding to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within NIH, the Senate bill includes $1.66 billion for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which is slightly lower than the proposed House amount of $1.67 billion.

National Institutes of Health (in billions)

 

FY 2020 Final

FY 2021 President's Budget Request

FY 2020 Final v. FY 2021 Request (%)

FY 2020 Final v. FY 2021 Request ($)

FY 2021 (House)

FY 2021 House v. FY 2020 (%)

FY 2021 (Senate)

FY 2021 Senate v. FY 2020 (%)

National Institutes of Health

$41.7

$38.7

-7.2%

-$3.0

$47.0

12.7%

$43.7

4.8%

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

$1.6

$1.4

-9.1%

-$0.1

$1.7

7.3%

$1.7

6.5%


As with the House report, the Senate committee report notes the NICHD strategic plan and the lack of attention to social and behavioral science and education research: “The Committee believes there is insufficient focus in NICHD’s 2020 Strategic Plan on behavioral health, cognition, development of young children, language, learning differences, and school readiness. NICHD has had a long history of funding critical and meritorious work in these areas. The Committee encourages NICHD to consider otherwise qualified grants in these areas on the same basis as any other areas of focus as it works to implement its strategic plan.”

Outlook

After the election, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated a shared goal to enact all 12 appropriations bills and an additional COVID-19 relief package before the end of the year. As the December 11 date approaches before the continuing resolution expires, there is growing likelihood of an additional continuing resolution through early next year.

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