Federal Relations

Spending Bills Update

The House this week passed the Military Construction-VA and the Agriculture Appropriations bills. While Military Construction-VA passed with little difficulty, the Agriculture bill passed with all Democrats and 19 Republicans opposing the measure. Many democrats have spoken out against the Agriculture bill because they are concerned that it contans deep cuts to programs that are vital to low income citizens.

Also this week, the House Appropriations Committee marked up and passed the Energy & Water and Defense Spending Bills. Energy and Water was approved by a vote of 26 to 20 and the latest markup contained no significant changes to accounts of particular interest to research universities. The Defense Appropriations bill also passed with increased funding for Defense 6.1 Basic Research above both the FY11 level and the Administration’s FY12 request. Amounts for programs relevant to the higher ed community are as follows:

  • 6.1 Basic Research: $2.099 billion, an increase of 7.8% above FY11
  • 6.2 Applied Research: $4.672 billion, an increase of 4.9% above FY11
  • National Defense Education Program: $86.6 million, a cut of 8.2% below FY11
  • DARPA: no set amount is given, but the following language was provided in the accompanying report: 

“…DARPA’s mission is to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security by sponsoring revolutionary, high-payoff research bridging the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military use…Corporate strategies have greatly improved the efficiency of DARPA’s financial execution and ability to obligate funds. The Committee has determined that these efficiencies will result in cost reductions of $100,000,000 in fiscal year 2012. Therefore, the Director of DARPA shall provide to the congressional defense committees, not later than 60 days after enactment of this Act, a report detailing by program element and project the application of each detailed reduction.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee has held a handful of hearings, but otherwise their spending bills remain stagnant.