Congress's Plans for NIH, Education

The House and Senate both passed bills last week to set spending levels for key federal higher ed programs; a table compares them.

June 29, 2015
 

Both congressional appropriations committees approved legislation last week that would set spending levels for the nation's health, education and workforce programs, setting up likely showdowns with the Obama administration over budgets for some programs and policy initiatives that congressional Republicans want to stop.

The policy battles could trump any deliberations over the spending levels, as the Obama administration is likely to go to the mat over its efforts -- now backed by two federal courts -- to require vocational programs at for-profit and other colleges to prove that they provide "gainful employment" to their graduates.

The spending bills passed by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees last week would block the gainful employment rule and a series of other regulatory efforts that the Obama Education Department has undertaken, but the administration has invested so much time and energy in the gainful rule that it is almost certain to fight any attempt to undermine it.

Whatever potential battles emerge over policy issues will not preclude shorter-term negotiations and debates over spending levels for various programs, as the competing House and Senate bills differ significantly on numerous fronts from the Obama administration's preferred budget levels and, to a lesser extent, from each other, as seen in the table below.

To the satisfaction of higher education groups, both spending bills would increase spending on the National Institutes of Health beyond the $1 billion increase requested by President Obama, with the Senate adding a full billion dollars on top of that.

College leaders are much less happy about a proposal to use $300 million (in the Senate bill) and $370 million (in the House bill) in surplus funds from the Pell Grant program for other purposes, even though the maximum Pell Grant would rise to $5,915 under both bills.

The table below shows proposed spending levels for many key federal programs for higher education, based on the recently passed House and Senate bills for the Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, and related agencies.

2016 Spending Plans for Education, Health and Labor Programs

  2015
Final
2016
Obama Request
2016 House
Committee

2016
Senate Committee

LABOR DEPARTMENT        
State Job Training Grants / Adults $776,736 $815,556 $776,736 $737,000
         
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT        
Student Financial Assistance        
Maximum Pell Grant $5,715 5,915 5,915 5,915
Cut to Pell Grant Surplus     -370,000 -300,000
Supplemental Ed Opportunity Grant 733,130 733,130 733,130 704,000
Work Study 989,728 989,728 989,728 950,000
         
Support for Institutions        
Strengthening Institutions 80,462 80,462 82,071 78,048
Hispanic-Serving Institutions 100,231 100,231 102,236 97,224
Promoting Postbacc Opportunities for Hispanic Americans 8,992 10,565 9,172 8,722
Strengthening Historically Black Colleges 227,524 227,524 232,074 220,698
Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions 58,840 58,840 60,017 57,075
Strengthening Predominantly Black Institutions 9,244 9,244 9,429 8,967
Asian-American/Pacific Islander 3,113 3,113 3,175 3,020
Strengthening Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving 12,833 12,833 13,090 12,448
Strengthening Native American-Serving Nontribal 3,113 3,113 3,175 3,020
Strengthening Tribal Colleges 25,662 25,662 30,000 24,892
Tribally Controlled Postsec Voc/Tech Institutions 7,705 7,705 8,705 7,705
Howard U 221,821 221,821 221,821 219,500
Gallaudet U 120,275 120,275 121,275 120,275
National Technical Institute for the Deaf 67,016 67,016 68,016 69,016
HBCU Capital Financing 19,430 19,436 19,430 19,430
         
Other Education Programs        
International Education and Foreign Language 72,164 76,164 72,164 46,945
Fund for the Improvement of Postsec Ed 67,775 200,000 0 0
Postsec Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities 11,800 11,800 11,800 10,384
Minority Science and Engineering Improvement 8,971 8,971 8,971 8,971
Federal TRIO Programs 839,752 859,752 900,000 839,752
GEAR UP 301,639 301,639 322,754 301,639
Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need 29,293 29,293 25,075 20,000
Teacher Quality Partnerships 40,592 0 0 34,000
Child Care Access Means Parents in School 15,134 15,134 15,134 0
Education Research 179,860 202,273 93,144 177,860
Education Statistics 103,060 124,744 103,060 102,060
Office for Civil Rights 100,000 130,000 100,000 100,000
         
         
Career Training State Grants 1,117,598 1,317,598 1,117,598 1,117,598
Adult Education 582,667 588,667 579,195 547,712
         
Health Programs        
National Institutes of Health 30,084,000 31,084,000 31,184,000 32,084,000
Health Workforce Training 751,600 856,820 742,670 720,970
         
Other Programs        
AmeriCorps 335,430 425,105 318,046 270,000
         

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