Federal Relations

July Federal Update

FY14 APPROPRIATIONS

The path to enacting FY14 appropriations measures is paved with legislative friction as Congress is showing no signs of undoing the sequester and the House and Senate chambers are working on vastly different overall budget numbers. At this point, there are three budgets — House, Senate, and White House — all of which assume no sequestration, but include different ways to account for the cuts in later years.

The House is advancing its FY14 appropriations bills at a $967 billion overall spending cap, while the Senate is working with a $1.058 trillion cap, which does not take into account the sequester. Ironically, both the House and Senate plans would trigger a new round of across-the-board spending reductions under sequestration because they violate the caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act (PL 111-25). But the House GOP plan busts the caps in defense and other security measures while the Senate is expected to bust the caps in both defense and non-defense (domestic) bills. All of this is leading to a big fight on spending, which will certainly culminate in a continuing resolution (CR) before the federal fiscal year ends September 30th.

So far, the House has taken action on nine of the twelve spending bills. Three of those bills (Homeland Security, Energy-Water, and Military Construction-VA) have been approved and five more (Transportation-HUD, Legislative Branch, Defense, Agriculture, and Commerce-Justice-Science) are being considered at the committee level and expected to reach the House floor for consideration in the coming weeks. The remaining bills – Labor-HHS-Education, Interior-Environment, and State-Foreign Operations – are not likely to be released before the August recess.

Senate appropriators have considered six of their twelve spending bills but none have yet been considered up by the full chamber. Those bills include Agriculture, Energy-Water, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD. The Senate also hopes to have work on the majority of their spending bills completed before the August recess.

Below are some highlights of select spending bills and programs of interest to the UW. In general, the Senate measures have been more favorable to programs important to the UW than the House measures. If you have a question or are seeking further information about a specific program, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Office of Federal Relations.

Energy-Water

OFFICE OF SCIENCE

FY14 Senate Committee = $5.15 billion – funded at $287 million above the FY13 level

FY14 House Committee = $4.65 billion – funded $223 million below FY13, and nearly $500 million below the President’s Budget Request

ARPA-E

FY14 Senate Committee = $379 million – an increase of $114 million above FY13

FY14 House Committee = $70 million – a decrease of $190 million from FY13, and over $300 million below the President’s request

EERE

FY14 Senate Committee = $2.28 billion – an increase of $470 million above FY13 levels and $500 million below the President’s request

FY14 House Committee = $982.6 million – a funding cut of nearly half from FY13; appropriators combined EERE and electricity deliver programs into one account and severely cut its funding.

Defense

The Senate has not yet released their FY14 Defense bill.

6.1 BASIC RESEARCH

FY14 House Committee = $2.2 billion – an increase of $40 million from FY13 and $5 million over the President’s request

6.2 APPLIED RESEARCH

FY14 House Committee = $4.7 billion – funded $55 million below FY13 and $52.2 million above the President’s Budget Request

DARPA

FY14 House Committee = $2.87 billion – funded $2.2 million below the President’s Budget Request

Commerce-Justice-Science

The Senate has not yet released their FY14 Commerce-Justice-Science bill.

NASA

FY14 House Subcommittee = $16.6 billion – $1.1 billion below the President’s request and $928 million below FY13

NASA SCIENCE

FY14 House Subcommittee = $4.8 billion – funded above the President’s Budget Request and $266 million below FY13

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (NSF)

FY14 House Subcommittee = $7 billion – funded $631 million below the President’s request and $259 million below FY13

NSF Major Research Equipment and Facility Construction (MREFC)

FY14 House Subcommittee = $182.6 million – $27.5 million below the President’s request and $13.6 million below FY13

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY (NIST)

FY14 House Subcommittee = $784 million – funded $25 million below FY13

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION (NOAA)

FY14 House Subcommittee = $4.9 billion – which is $89 million below FY13

Labor-HHS-Education

The House is not likely to release their version of the FY14 bill until September.

HHS TITLE VIII NURSING PROGRAMS

FY14 Senate Subcommittee = $251.1 million – same as President’s Budget Request, and $20 million above FY13

CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL (CDC)

FY14 Senate Subcommittee = $7.02 billion – an increase from the President’s request of $6.64 billion and from FY13 at $6.55 billion

CDC NIOSH EDUCATION AND RESEARCH CENTERS (ERC)

FY14 Senate Subcommittee = $24.2 million – equal to FY13 funding and $24.2 million more than the President’s request, which zeroed out funding

NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH

FY14 Senate Subcommittee = $30.95 billion – less than the President’s request of $31.09 billion and slightly more than FY13 levels ($30.64 billion)

PELL GRANT MAX AWARD

FY14 Senate Subcommittee = $5,785/student – equal to the President’s request and more than FY13 ($5,645/student)

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION

FY14 Senate Subcommittee = $80.94 million – equal to the President’s request and $7 million more than FY13

TRIO PROGRAMS

FY14 Senate Subcommittee = $849.9 million – slightly more than the President’s request of $839.9 million and FY13 ($838.3 million)

GEAR UP

FY14 Senate Subcommittee = $307.2 million – equal to the Presidents request and slightly more than FY13

STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES INCREASED

Interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans doubled on July 1st from 3.4% to 6.8% after Congress failed to reach a deal before leaving for their Fourth of July recess. The rate hike applies to subsidized Stafford loans taken out after July 1, 2013 and is expected to affect approximately 14,000 UW undergraduates and add $1,000 in interest over the life of the average student loan amount. The White House and a bipartisan group of congressional leaders have proposed linking loan interest rates with annual market conditions, but the exact details of such a plan have proved difficult for legislators to agree on.

Democrats had been hopeful after the July 1st deadline that they would be able to enact a retroactive fix. However, a measure to temporarily reverse the doubling of interest rates failed to pass this week in the Senate on a party-line vote. Leaders state that negotiations are continuing.

On July 1st, Senator Murray and Representatives Heck, Kilmer, Larsen, McDermott, and DelBene held a press conference at UW calling attention to the rate hike students are facing. Several students and members of the UW community attended the event, which garnered attention from local media outlets.

IMMIGRATION REFORM

After a months-long process that included several negotiation meetings and considering over 200 amendments, the Senate cleared a comprehensive immigration bill last month on a historical and sweeping vote of 68-32.

The “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” (S 744) affects visas for high-tech workers, creates a new “W-visa” program to attract low-skilled workers, and requires businesses to implement new electronic-verify requirements to check the immigration status of their employees.

Among other things, the bill expands the annual cap of H-1B visas to 110,000 from the existing cap of 65,000 and raises the number of visas for foreign graduates with advanced degrees from US universities that are exempt from the annual cap. The bill also creates what is considered to be a controversial pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants to become permanent legal residents a decade after they register with the government. Immigrants would be required to pay a $2,000 fine, pass a background check, have a job, and wait 10 years before applying for a green card. Three years after that, they could apply to become US citizens. Dreamers – the term given to undocumented students advocating for permanent residency status – can obtain green cards in five years and citizenship immediately thereafter.

The bill would now typically be sent to the House for consideration, but Republican leadership has indicated that they will not take up the Senate’s version of the bill – likely because it puts conservative members in a tough political spot just a year before the mid-term elections. There has been discussion around the House creating their own bill, but it is widely speculated that legislation – even if bipartisan, wouldn’t pass the Senate. It is unclear at this point whether or not the two chambers can come to an agreement on any immigration legislation this year.

DEBT LIMIT

Reports last weekend outlined the House Republicans’ playbook for negotiations predicted to occur this fall with President Obama over raising the nation’s debt limit. For a long-term debt ceiling increase, for example, Republicans are going to demand a plan to privatize Medicare – the most controversial aspect of the Republican’s budget. For even a short-term increase, they’ll ask that Social Security and/or Medicare be means-tested. This plan will likely face significant resistance from both House and Senate Democrats and President Obama, who has said he won’t negotiate again over raising the debt ceiling. On Monday, the White House announced that the FY13 deficit is expected to be $759 billion – $214 billion less than earlier projections. The drop in the deficit is due to larger-than-expected dividend payments from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the Treasury, higher tax revenue, and the implementation of sequestration. The debt limit increase won’t be necessary until late October or early November and will most likely be coupled with completing the FY14 appropriations bills.

JAN NEWTON TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS

Dr. Jan Newton, with UW-APL and the Executive Director of the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), testified before congress last month at a US Senate Oceans, Fisheries, Coast Guard, and Atmospheric subcommittee hearing. She spoke about the Integrated Ocean Observation System program, which allows shellfish growers to monitor ocean acidity in real time and close off their shellfish tanks when ocean acidity is too high. Recent studies have shown a connection between ocean acidification and high mortality rates among young oysters and other shellfish like clams, geoduck and mussels and Jan offered her expertise and advice on what could be done to grow the program.

FEDERAL RELATIONS ON CAMPUS IN AUGUST

Office of Federal Relations Director Christy Gullion will be on campus in Seattle for much of the August recess. If you would like to set up a meeting to discuss your research or program, please get in touch with her assistant, Bri Fields at 202-624-1420 or bcfields@uw.edu.