Help From the House

Largest of Democrat-sponsored spending bills, reflecting favoring of social programs seen as shortchanged during Bush years, would lift funds for NIH, Pell and AmeriCorps.
July 27, 2009

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Congressional leaders and President Obama promised this winter that they would begin to realign the federal government's spending priorities toward social programs that they viewed as having been shortchanged during the Bush administration. Continuing that shift, which began with the economic stimulus legislation and has accelerated during the federal budget setting process, the House of Representatives on Friday passed the last of its 2010 spending bills, which would pour hundreds of millions of additional dollars into education, labor and health programs.

The measure, which passed by a vote of 264 to 153, generally along party lines, funds the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, along with some smaller agencies such as the Corporation for National and Community Service and its AmeriCorps program. Of the various annual appropriations measures, this one matters most to colleges and universities -- and it contains good tidings for them, by and large.

The bill's highlights, from a higher education perspective, are that it would:

  • Set the maximum Pell Grant to $5,500 in 2010, taking advantage of hundreds of dollars in mandatory funds that Congress has directed toward the program in recent budget reconciliation and economic stimulus measures.
  • Leave most other student aid programs at their 2009 levels, but boost funds for the TRIO and GEAR UP programs (which help middle and high school students from low-income families prepare for college) by $20 million each, to $868 million for TRIO and $333 million for GEAR UP.
  • Significantly increase spending on a set of programs for colleges that serve minority students, providing $146 million more than in 2009 for "strengthening institutions" programs for black and tribal colleges and for colleges and universities that enroll large proportions of such students.
  • Boost spending on the National Institutes of Health to $31.3 billion, $942 million more than the agency is receiving this year and about $500 million more than President Obama proposed spending on biomedical research in his 2010 budget proposal.
  • Increase funds for the Health Resources and Services Administration's programs that train the nation's health professions workforce, programs that have been slashed in recent years. The House bill's 2010 budget would lift spending for the programs to $529 million from $393 million in 2009.

A table listing the House bill's proposed spending on various programs appears at the bottom of this article.

In addition to funds that would flow to colleges indirectly through the federal programs funded in the bill, the legislation would also direct upwards of $125 million in money straight to institutions through lawmaker-sponsored earmarks. Among the recipients:

  • Texas State University at San Marcos, $1 million for nursing curriculum development, including purchase of equipment
  • The University of Massachusetts at Boston, $12 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate
  • Iowa State University, Ames, $1 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for facilities and equipment
  • The University of South Alabama, $2.5 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration, for facilities and equipment
  • Macomb Community College, in Michigan, $550,000 from the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration to train displaced workers in the aerospace and defense industries.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to discuss its version of the spending bill on Tuesday.

Agency/Program 2009 Appropriation 2010 Obama Budget Request 2010 House Passed
Pell Grants (discretionary) $17,288,000 $17,495,000 $17,783,395
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants 757,465 757,465 757,465
Work Study 980,492 980,492 980,492
Perkins Loan cancellations 67,164 0 49,701
Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships 63,852 63,852 63,852
Academic Competitiveness /SMART Grants 0 0 0
TEACH Grants 0 0 0
Institutional aid    
Strengthening Institutions 80,000 84,000 84,000
Strengthening Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities 23,158 24,316 36,021
Strengthening Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions 11,579 12,158 18,010
Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities 238,095 250,000 283,172
Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions 58,500 61,425 61,425
Strengthening Predominantly Black Institutions n/a 7,875 13,727
Minority Science and Engineering Improvement 8,577 9,006 10,000
Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions 93,256 97,919 136,938
Promoting Postbac Opportunities for Hispanic Americans n/a n/a 10,500
Strengthening Asian American and Pacific Islander-serving Institutions 2,500 2,625 4,575
Strengthening Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions n/a 2,625 4,575
Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Voc-Tech Institutions 7,773 7,773 8,162
Gallaudet U. 124,000 120,000 120,000
National Technical Institute for the Deaf 64,212 68,437 68,437
Howard U. 234,977 234,977 234,977
HBCU Capital Financing Loans 10,354 20,582 20,582
International education/foreign language 118,881 118,881 128,881
Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education 133,667 47,424 133,916
Demonstration Projects to Ensure Access for Students With Disabilities 6,755 6,755 10,755
Teacher Quality Partnerships 50,000 50,000 43,000
Vocational and adult education    
Dislocated Worker Assistance 1,160,911 1,160,911 1,160,911
Tech Prep 102,923 102,923 102,923
Adult Education 554,122 628,221 628,221
Student assistance    
TRIO programs 848,089 848,089 868,089
Gear Up 313,212 313,212 333,212
Child Care Access Program 16,034 16,034 17,034
Graduate education    
Byrd Scholarships 40,642 40,642 40,642
Javits Fellowships 9,687 9,687 9,687
Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need 31,030 31,030 31,030
Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity Program 3,000 3,000 3,000
Other Education Department offices    
Research and statistics 617,175 689,256 664,256
Office for Civil Rights 96,826 103,024 103,024
Inspector general 54,539 60,053 60,053
Adult job training 861,540 861,540 861,540
National Institutes of Health 30,325,224 30,766,988 31,266,988
Health professions programs 392,726 528,098 529,708
Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education 310,000 310,000 320,000
AmeriCorps 271,196 372,547 331,547


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