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Senate Leadership Introduces Phase IV COVID-19 Relief Bill

Yesterday, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled a $1 trillion next phase COVID-19 relief package. The Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act was developed largely within the Republican leadership in the Senate and with the White House. The bill will now need to be negotiated with Senate Democrats in order to gain the 60 votes that are necessary to advance to final consideration. An approved Senate bill would then need to be negotiated with the House of Representatives, which has already passed a $3.5 trillion Phase IV COVID-19 relief bill

The initial draft of the HEALS Act contains several provisions that would impact the higher education and research communities, including:

  • $29.4 billion to institutions of higher education for coronavirus-related expenses;
  • Temporary and limited coronavirus-related liability protections for institutions that make appropriate efforts to adhere to public health guidance;
  • $15.5 billion to the National Institutes of Health, including $10.1 billion to offset costs related to reductions in lab productivity resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and $240 million for supplements to existing research training awards for extensions and other costs, as well as roughly $4 billion to support to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally;
  • $16 billion for necessary expenses for testing, contact tracing, surveillance, containment and mitigation; and
  • $4.5 billion to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

FSU and the higher education community will continue to work with the House and Senate to push for research grantee relief across the federal agencies as well as for assistance for state governments.

Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act

HEALS Act Summary

APLU Statement on Senate Republicans Proposal for Phase IV COVID-19 Emergency Relief

Jonathan Nurse

Senate to Release Draft of New COVID-19 Relief Bill

Next week, leaders in the Senate will release a draft of legislation to provide a new phase (#4) of emergency COVID-19 financial relief. The package is expected to total roughly $1 trillion, which is less than half of the last major COVID-19 relief package to be  signed into law and less than 1/3 of the House version of a next phase bill. The public higher education advocacy community is actively making the case for $47 billion for institutions and students, $26 billion for research, and relief to state governments to be included in the next package. 

Jonathan Nurse

FY21 Appropriations Bills Advancing in the House

The House Appropriations Committee approved all 12 of its Fiscal Year 2021 spending bills over the last two weeks. Appropriators were challenged by an overall spending cap, set last year, that keeps FY21 spending essentially level with FY20. As a result, increases in spending for specific agencies and programs generally needed to be offset by reductions elsewhere in the budget. Emergency appropriations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are not included in the FY20-21 spending cap.

The FY21 spending cap limited funding in the bills for research and student aid. The panel provided the Department of Defense (6.1/Basic Research), National Institutes of Health*, Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Institute of Standards and Technology** with research budgets within roughly 1% of their FY20 levels. Other agencies, including the National Science Foundation (+3.28%), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (+6.57%), Environmental Protection Agency (+4.03%) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (+4.93%) were slated for larger increases. Federal student aid programs were provided modest increases of roughly 2%. The House spending bills set marks for future negotiations with the Senate and White House.

The Senate schedule for consideration of FY21 spending bills is uncertain. The process could pick back up after the August recess. However, there is near certainty that FY21 will begin with a temporary funding measure that keeps government open at FY20 levels until after the election. The conclusion of the process will likely take place either immediately following the election if President Trump is reelected or after January 20th if Joe Biden wins.

Agency/Office/Program
Dollars in thousands, except Pell Grant maximum award
FY20 Final FY20 Final % Change from FY19 FY21 Pres. Request FY21 Pres. Request % Change FY21 House FY21 Senate FY21 Final
Department of Defense, RDT&E 104,431,232 10.0 106,224,793 +1.72 104,348,089    
DOD, 6.1 Basic Research 2,603,345 -0.6 2,319,126 -10.91 2,621,477    
DOD, 6.2 Applied Research 6,069,765 0.0 5,391,069 -11.18 5,921,015    
DOD, 6.3 Advanced Technology Development 7,400,767 0.5 7,077,772 -4.36 7,077,772    
DOD, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency 3,458,321 0.8 3,566,000 +3.12 3,511,848    
Department of Education, Pell Grant 22,475,372 0.0 22,475,352 - 22,475,352    
DOEd., Pell Grant Maximum 6,345 2.4 6,345 - 6,495    
DOEd., Work Study 1,180,000 4.4 500,000 -57.63 1,210,000    
DOEd., Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants 865,000 3.0 0 -100 880,000    
DOEd., Institute of Education Science (IES) 623,462 1.3 565,400 -9.32 630,462    
DOEd., IES Regional Educational Laboratories 56,022 1.1 0 -100% 57,022    
Department of Energy, Office of Science 7,000,000 6.3 5,800,000 -17.14 7,050,000**    
DOE, Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy*** 425,000 16.1 22,200 -94.78 435,000    
Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Science 716,449 1.4 484,700 -32.3 745,345    
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Science 7,138,900 3.4 6,306,000 -11.67 7,097,000    
National Endowment for the Humanities*** 162,250 4.7 33,400 -79.42 170,000    
National Institutes of Health 41,684,000 6.7 38,371,491 -7.95 46,959,000*    
National Institute of Standards and Technology 1,034,000 4.9 738,000 -28.62 1,044,000    
NIST Industrial Technology Services, Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Manufacturing USA 162,000 4.5 5,000 -96.58 153,000    
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oceanic and Atmospheric Research 548,384 4.4 327,000 -40.33 584,426    
National Science Foundation 8,278,330 2.5 7,700,000 -7.0 8,550,000    

*NIH increase includes COVID-19 emergency funding. Base increase is 0.65%

**DOE Office of Science provided separate economic recovery infrastructure spending

***Proposed for elimination by the administration

Jonathan Nurse

182 House Members Call for Research Relief Funds

Today, in a bipartisan letter led by Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI), 183 members of the House of Representatives called for research relief funds in the next COVID-19 recovery package. ... Read More

Jonathan Nurse

CARES Act Approved

Today, the House of Representatives approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act on a voice vote. ... Read More

Jonathan Nurse

Senate Approves New $2T COVID-19 Relief Package

Last night, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the third COVID-19 relief bill and sent it to the House. The House is likely to approve the legislation on Friday. President Trump has indicated that he will sign in. ... Read More

Kaelyn Hughes

Final FY20 Budget Within Reach

Congress is poised to send President Trump final appropriations bills to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2020. The bills, emerging nearly three months after the start of the fiscal year, were cheered by much of the higher education advocacy community. ... Read More

Jonathan Nurse