Washington and Social Science: Positive Research Funding Plans Still on Track

The House and Senate approved their respective versions of the Farm Bill and the FY19 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act.The House approved the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs (Rescissions) Act, but the bill was defeated on the Senate floor.  The House also approved a package of bills designed to address the nation’s opioid crisis, the Water Resources Development Act, and the FY19 Defense Appropriations Act. The House failed to approve two immigration measures. The Senate also approved the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act, and confirmed several nominations.

House and Senate Continue to Move FY19 Appropriations Bills, But How Long Will “Regular Order” Last?

Both the House and Senate moved rapidly to approve their respective versions of the 12 annual appropriations bills, largely sticking to “regular order” by approving each bill first at subcommittee and then at full committee level. In June, the House and Senate both approved their versions of a “minibus” that includes the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations bills. The House on June 28 also cleared the largest appropriations measure:  the FY19 Defense Appropriations Act. To date, the House has approved four of the 12 appropriations bills, while the Senate has now approved three of the 12.

Social Science news bulletinAt the committee level, the full House Appropriations Committee has approved all but the Homeland Security and Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS)-Education Appropriations bills. With approval of its version of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill on June 28, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved all 12 of its bills – something it has not done in years.

Both the House and Senate hope to use the last three weeks of July to approve as many appropriations bills as possible before the August recess (the Senate has indicated that it will be in session for most of August).

How long will the House and Senate be able to continue using regular order to approve appropriations bills? Both chambers will likely be able to approve most of their bills over the coming weeks, but electoral politics will likely intercede at some point and bring the process to a halt in the fall. A potentially difficult battle over the president’s Supreme Court justice nomination could also potentially derail any legislative activity between August and the November elections. Most likely, Congress at some point will abandon regular order, and the 12 appropriations bills will once again be bundled into an omnibus spending bill that hopefully can be approved by the end of the year.

Senate Appropriations Committee Provides Increase for NSF in FY19

On June 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY19 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, the annual funding vehicle for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Senate bill provides $8.1 billion for NSF, which is $301 million above the current level. However, this amount is smaller ($106 million) than the amount included in the House version of the CJS Appropriations bill.

Perhaps more importantly to the social science community, the Senate bill includes language in its accompanying report that requires the NSF to “maintain its core research at levels not less than those provided in fiscal year 2017.” While the committee did not include specific line-items for each individual research directorate at NSF, this language should ensure that the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Research Directorate is not further reduced below its current FY17 level.

Similar to the House bill, the Senate bill also provides the full amount requested for the 2020 Decennial Census.

Senate Appropriations Committee Provides Increases to Federal Education Budget

On June 28, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY19 Labor-HHS-Education Act, which provides funding for all programs under the Department of Education. The bill provides $71.4 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education, a $541 million increase above the comparable FY18 level.  Highlights of the bill include:

  • Increases to the maximum Pell grant award to $6,195, an increase of 1.6 percent or $100. The bill also continues support for Year Round Pell.
  • $2.06 billion for Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants. States and local education agencies use these funds for a range of activities related to the certification, recruitment, professional development, and support of teachers and administrators.
  • $135 million for the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program, which supports the creation, development, implementation, replication, and scaling up of evidence-based, field-initiated education innovations. This represents a $15 million increase above the comparable FY18 funding level for EIR.
  • $5 million for the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, which includes the full amount for the Open Textbook Pilot first funded in the FY18 Consolidated Appropriations Act. This funding supports grants to one or a group of institutions of higher education for creating new open textbooks for use by students in courses, especially those with high enrollments, that are part of a degree granting program and expanding the use of open textbooks in such courses.

The House Committee on Appropriations is scheduled to mark up its version of the FY19 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Act during the week of July 9.

In the News…

NASA science and NSF do well in Senate spending bill” | Science (Jeff Mervis, Eric Hand), June 13

“Fake News:  An Origin Story”National Public Radio, “Hidden Brain” (Shanker Vedantam), June 25

“Does incivility hurt democracy? Here’s what political science can tell us” | Washington Post, “Monkey Cage”, June 27

Coalition for National Science Funding Appreciates the Senate Appropriations Committee for its Support for Scientific Research | CNSF press release, June 22

Paul, Cruz, Lankford, and Inhofe Call for Investigation at the National Science Foundation” | Senator Rand Paul press release, June 18

Upcoming Hearings and Briefings

Research for Dummies: Translating Scientific Findings for Policy Audiences

1-3 p.m., July 19, 2018

American Public Health Association

800 I Street NW, Main Conference Room


Momentum Shift:  How the Millennial Generation is Reshaping America

Sponsored by the Population Association of America (PAA)

2-3 p.m., Monday, July 16, 2018

The Gold Room, 2168 Rayburn House Office Building

Ice cream will be served beginning at 1:45 p.m.

RSVP to Gaylen Morgan at CRDFellow@dc-crd.com

Late Night Quotable

“Starbucks just announced that they’re closing 150 stores due to low sales. Meanwhile, the Starbucks inside Barnes & Noble was like, ‘Shhh — I think they forgot about us.’ ”

Jimmy Fallon, June 21

“As the World Cup continues, a report just came out that football fans in Russia have been drinking so much that bars and restaurants are completely running out of beer. See, this is what happens when England wins one game.”

James Corden, June 20

“An Ohio man was recently arrested after attacking his roommate with a rolling pin. And I find it amazing that two male roommates actually owned a rolling pin.”

Seth Myers, June 18

“Microsoft is working on technology that removes the need for cashiers and checkout lines. This cutting-edge technology is known as ‘shoplifting.’”

Conan O’Brien, June 14

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Mark Vieth

Mark Vieth is a senior vice president of the Washington government relations firm CRD Associates. Since he joined CRD in 2002, he has specialized in bringing diverse associations, foundations, institutions of higher education and other stakeholders together to advocate for common objectives. Before that, Vieth was a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years, including serving as chief of staff for then-Congressman Robert A. Borski of Pennsylvania.

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