Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

Updates on state and federal issues relating to the UW System.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Federal Update for July 7, 2011

UW System Financial Aid Officers sent comments to the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) today in response to a request from APLU for feedback on possible Pell Grant changes.  The comments made clear that at a time when this country's economy is faltering and it needs every citizen to have some form of post-secondary education, we cannot afford to reduce or restrict Pell Grant funding; rather, it is imperative that education, and access to it, become more, not less, of a priority, if we are to remain a great nation.  In Fiscal Year 2012, there is projected to be an $11 billion shortfall in the Pell Grant program.  

A draft of the FY12 House Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill was released in advance of mark-up scheduled for today, July 7, 2011.  According to the Committee's press release and the draft legislation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) would be level-funded at its FY11 level of $6.9 billion.  

Within NSF, the bill funds the Research and Related Activities Directorate at $5.6 billion, or $43 million above the FY 11 funding level; the Education and Human Resources Directorate at $835 million, or $26 million below the current level; and the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Directorate at $100 million, or $17 million below FY11.

For NASA, the draft bill appropriates $16.8 billion, which is $1.6 billion below FY11 funding.  Within NASA, the bill appropriates $4.5 billion for Science, which is $431 million below the current level.  It also terminates funding for the James Webb Space Telescope.  The bill provides $569 million for Aeronautics; $375 million for Space Technology; $3.6 billion for Exploration; $138 million for Education; and $3 billion for Cross-Agency Support programs.  

The bill also appropriates $10 million to restart production of Plutonium-238 for deep space missions, and it calls for the transfer of $1 million from Cross-Agency Support to NASA's Office of Inspector General for the commission of an independent assessment of NASA's strategic direction and agency management.  Like last year's appropriations bill, this bill prohibits the Office of Science and Technology Policy and NASA from engaging in bilateral activities with China, unless authorized by Congress.

Also released was the draft FY12 Interior-Environment appropriations bill, which is also scheduled for mark-up today.  The measure would cut the budgets of both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts by $10 million from their FY10 levels, reducing each agency's budget to $135 million.

(AAU and the UW System Office of Federal Relations contributed to this report.)