Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Federal Update for December 14, 2011

The U.S. House approved the Republican tax extender bill, HR 3630, by a vote of 234 to 193, which includes an extension of the Social Security payroll tax at its current reduced rate, extension of some expiring unemployment benefits and a fix to the physician Medicare reimbursement issue. The Senate and White House vow to reject the House measure. It is reported that Democrats are holding up a FY2012 omnibus appropriations bill, HR 2055, until the payroll tax cut compromise is finished.

A long-awaited, six-year reauthorization for the SBIR/STTR programs is included in the final conference agreement for HR 1540, the National Defense Authorization for FY 2012. The Defense authorization bill will be voted on in the House today, December 14.. The legislation increases the SBIR set-aside from 2.5 percent to 3.2 percent, phased-in over the life of the reauthorization. Rep. Dan Lipinski's (D-IL) proof-of-concept proposal, which establishes grants of up to $100,000 for individual researchers to help prove that their innovative research has commercial application, did get included in the final package.  In 2009,.UW System faculty and staff participated in a roundtable discussion with Chairman Lipinski. Representatives from UW-Madison, UWM, UW-La Crosse, and UW System attended and spoke regarding STEM education and research.  The UW System has advocated for a comprehensive, long-term reauthorization bill or permanent status to the SBIR program. A press release from Rep. Lipinski is attached.

Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, National Institutes of Health: Employment and Other Impacts Reported by NIH Recovery Act Grantees. The findings indicate that the number of full-time equivalent (FTEs) jobs supported by NIH American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds increased from December 2009 (12,000 FTEs) through September 2010, and then remained steady through the most recent data from June 2011 (21,000 FTEs). Of a selected group of principal investigators (PIs), nearly one-third stated that the NIH ARRA funding supported new positions and about half of the PIs reported that ARRA funding prevented reductions in jobs and/or reductions in the number of hours worked by current employees.

The NIH has put out a Notice of Revised Term of Award for All Recovery Act Awards to Ensure Project Completion by September 30, 2013. The purposes of this notice (NOT-OD-12-014) are to "1) notify recipient institutions and Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PDs/PIs) that NIH is revising the terms and conditions on some active Recovery Act awards to amend the current automatic no-cost extension authority by limiting the ability for awardees to extend the final budget period of a project period to no later than September 30, 2013 without prior NIH approval; 2) establish a procedure for recipients to request prior NIH approval for extensions beyond September 30, 2013; and 3) provide options for those recipients unable to accept the revised terms of award described below."

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