Senate Advances FY 2019 Conference Minibus with Increases for IES and NIH Funding; AERA Weighs In on Policy Issues
Senate Advances FY 2019 Conference Minibus with Increases for IES and NIH Funding; AERA Weighs In on Policy Issues

September 2018

On September 18, the Senate passed a conference package of the 2019 fiscal year (FY) Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) appropriations bills on a 93–7 vote. The bill, H.R. 6157, also contains a continuing resolution (CR) to extend FY 2018 funding levels through December 7 for agencies—including the National Science Foundation—without finalized appropriations by October 1. The Senate vote also marks the first time in more than a decade that an LHHS bill advanced before the September 30 deadline.

As noted in the August issue of Highlights, the Senate used the House-approved legislation on FY 2019 defense appropriations as a vehicle to combine the two largest appropriations bills and link the LHHS bill to must-pass legislation. During the negotiations between the House and Senate conferees, the House negotiators agreed to adopt the higher top-line amount for the LHHS bill adopted by the Senate.

The Institute of Education Sciences would see a $2 million increase from FY 2018 levels to $615 million, providing additional funding support for the National Assessment for Education Progress. The bill also boosts the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $2 billion for an overall total of $39.1 billion. Within NIH, the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development would receive $1.51 billion, a $54 million increase.

As of press time, the House plans to take up the conference bill on September 26. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump threatened to veto the bill because it does not fund a border wall, raising the possibility of a government shutdown should he refuse to sign the bill by September 30. Trump signed a minibus bill covering Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations on September 21.

Proposals Impacting the USDA Economic Research Service

AERA joined a letter sent to leadership of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to oppose the proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to move the Economic Research Service (ERS) outside of the D.C. area. ERS is one of the 13 principal federal statistical agencies, providing social and economic data of interest to AERA members.

The letter also states opposition to positioning ERS away from the Research, Education and Economics mission area, with concerns about the impact the move would have on the integrity and autonomy of the agency. According to the letter from the Friends of Agricultural Statistics and Analysis, “there are many strategic reasons to have the ERS in the Washington area, including maintenance of its strong connection with the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and other parts of the USDA, locality to its product users, staff recruitment and retention, and integration with the 12 other primary federal statistical agencies.”

Urging Senate Confirmation of OSTP Director Nominee

AERA signed on to a letter sent September 19 to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urging a confirmation vote for the nominee appointed to serve as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Kelvin Droegemeier received bipartisan support from the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which advanced his nomination on September 5.