Federal Relations

February 20, 2012

Congress in Recess this Week

Congress is in recess this week for President’s Day and will return to the Capitol next week – the same week that UW President Michael Young will be in DC for his annual visit to the Washington State Congressional Delegation.  Last Monday, the President submitted his FY13 budget to Congress.  Next week, President Young will submit the University’s FY13 Federal Legislative Agenda to the delegation.  I will provide a full report after these meetings so stay tuned!

Now back to the President’s Budget Request (PBR).  The overall budget request is $3.8 trillion, which takes into account the $1.047 trillion cap on domestic spending as agreed to in the Budget Control Act (approved last August to deal with deficit reduction and raising the debt ceiling).   Included in this overall number is $64 billion for basic and applied research, a 3.3 percent increase from FY12 enacted levels. The request includes increases for most basic research accounts, including those at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Defense (DoD). The National Institutes of Health (NIH), however, remains level funded and NASA’s Science Directorate is reduced. The majority of smaller research agencies (e.g., National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, USGS, and others) receive increases from FY12.

One thing to keep in mind about the PBR is that this is a very political document – especially in an election year. In addition to outlining the President’s spending priorities, it also includes a number of controversial proposals to pay for that spending (particularly regarding taxes).  This will be a tough sell to Congress. While the appropriations process began in earnest this past week, it is highly unlikely that this budget request will be anywhere close to realized before the election in November.  Instead, the House and Senate budget writers and appropriators will outline their own spending priorities with only minor acknowledgment of the PBR.

Read more about the PBR here or contact the Office of Federal Relations to receive our most recent Federal Update (2/15/12) on this topic.