Congressional leaders released a $1.3 trillion FY2018 omnibus spending bill on March 21. Research and education fared very well across the board. This is largely due to the fact that appropriators had an additional $63 billion for non-defense discretionary spending as a result of the recent budget deal that raised spending caps by $300 billion over the next two years. Congress overwhelmingly rejected the reductions and eliminations proposed within President Trump’s FY2018 budget request. Below are some of the major takeaways, as they relate to U of I System priorities:
- National Institutes of Health: $37.084 billion (up $3 billion from $34.084 billion, an 8.8 percent increase vs. FY17)
- Directs NIH to delay the enforcement of the expanded definition of clinical trials
- Salary cap remains at Executive Level II
- There is not a fetal tissue rider or accompanying report language
- Department of Energy-Office of Science: $6.26 billion (up from $5.39 billion, a 16 percent increase vs. FY17)
- Department of Energy ARPA-E: $353 million (up 15.5 percent vs. FY17)
- Department of Education: Increases maximum Pell award to $6,095 and continues support for year round Pell
- National Science Foundation: $7.767 billion (up from $7.472 billion, a 4 percent increase vs. FY17)
- Research & related activities (R&RA) up 5.5 percent vs. FY17
- Education & human resources (EHR) up 3.3 percent vs. FY17
- Department of Defense Science & Technology: up 6 percent vs. FY17
- $2.34 billion for 6.1 Basic Research, up almost 3 percent from FY17
- $5.68 billion for 6.2 Applied Research, up almost 7 percent from FY17
- $6.84 billion for 6.3 Development, up almost 6.5 percent from FY17
- U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture & Food Research Initiative: $400 M (up from $375 million, a 6.6 percent increase vs. FY17)
- National Endowment for the Humanities: $153 million (up from $150 million, a 2 percent increase vs. FY17)
President Donald Trump signed the omnibus package into law this afternoon.
Despite discussions to formally extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by attaching it to the FY18 omnibus, negotiators were unable to reach an agreement.
The Trump administration recently announced new punitive measures aimed at China, including import tariffs of up to $60 billion. Despite some reports about potential restrictions on student visas for Chinese citizens, the measures did not include any such restrictions. However, the administration will reportedly consider further measures in the coming weeks. OGR is closely monitoring this issue.
Urbana-Champaign Students Storm DC
Thirteen students from Urbana's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) were in DC as part of an experiential learning program to meet with agricultural policy and business leaders. The Agricultural Policy and Leadership class was led by Jon Scholl (Instructor, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics). Their week-long itinerary included meetings with the American Farm Bureau Federation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the Mexican Embassy, among others. They also spent a full day on Capitol Hill, where they met with Representatives Rodney Davis and Cheri Bustos, Senate Agriculture Committee staff, and ag policy staff from Illinois delegation offices.
Sixteen students from Urbana's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) traveled to DC as part of a career development course entitled “Organizational Cultures: LAS in DC.” Led by LAS director of career development Brian Neighbors and co-instructor Melissa Schoeplein, their visit entailed meetings with alumni from a variety of professional settings – executive branch agencies, legislative branch, non-governmental organizations, the military, and the private sector. They also attended a networking reception, where they had a chance to interact with more alumni from the DC area. The class is a part of LAS' new Life + Career Design Initiative that seeks to engage students in classroom learning and applying it in real world experiences.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) hosted its annual Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) advocacy day on March 21, and five of Urbana's outstanding doctoral students participated. In addition to attending the CASE meeting, they met with legislators and staff from Illinois delegation offices to discuss their research and underscore the importance of federal support for research and education.
Davis Sponsors Legislation to Support Graduate Assistants
On March 22, Rep. Rodney Davis introduced legislation entitled the "Graduate Assistants Parity (GAP) Act" that would allow all graduate students to exclude tuition reductions from gross income. The existing tax code exempts qualified tuition reductions from taxable income for graduate students acting as teaching and research assistants, but not for graduate students who assist in other capacities.
Foster Introduces Bill to Strengthen U.S. Patent System
On March 20, Rep. Bill Foster and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) introduced the STRONGER Patents Act, which would help support university technology transfer. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate last year. The Association of American Universities, Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Association of University Technology Managers, and Council on Governmental Relations released a joint statement in support.
OGR Federal Relations
Paul Weinberger and Melissa Haas