Flurry of Congressional Activity on FY 2018 Appropriations

July 2017

July was a busy month for the House and Senate appropriations committees. Both chambers moved legislation to fund federal agencies for the 2018 fiscal year (FY), which begins on October 1. As reported in the May issue of Highlights, President Donald Trump’s budget proposes steep cuts to research agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as to the Department of Education.

In contrast to the 11 percent cut to NSF suggested in the Presidential Budget Request (PRB), the House Appropriations Committee passed an NSF budget on July 13 that would flat-fund the NSF Education and Human Resources Directorate at $880 million, as well as the Research and Related Activities account, which includes the Social, Behavioral, and Economics Directorate, at $6.034 billion.

On Wednesday, July 19, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Labor Health and Human Services (LHHS) budget, including $605.3 million for IES, the same number that the House Appropriations LHSS subcommittee advanced the week prior. This is flat-funding compared to the final FY 2017 appropriation, but $11.6 million below the FY 2018 funding request from the administration.

The House left for summer recess on Friday, July 28, and will return after Labor Day. Colleagues in Congressional offices believe that it is unlikely that the bill will make it to the House floor in September. Instead, Congress is likely to pass a continuing resolution that will continue to fund the federal government for FY 2018 at the same levels as FY 2017.

The Senate will return to Washington for at least one more week, but is not expected to move an LHHS budget, which would include funding for IES, until mid- or late September.

On July 27, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a budget of $7.3 billion in FY 2018 for NSF, $161 million below the FY2017 enacted level, and $658 million above the request. Funding is provided for basic research across scientific disciplines to support the development of effective science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs.

AERA continues to advocate for strong funding for education research in a variety of ways—working with coalition partners, meeting with congressional staff and agency officials, and preparing or joining sign-on letters. AERA has also been encouraging members to share their federally funded education research with broader audiences. See the Highlights story about AERA’s advocacy webinars and how they can prepare researchers to communicate their support for federal funding of education research to members of Congress.