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NSF Announces Support for Research Stemming from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey

The National Science Foundation has announced its intention to support research projects related to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. According to a message from the director,

"NSF has a long history of advancing research that helps the nation improve its preparation, response and recovery from catastrophic events. Data about the forces behind these events can inform strategies to mitigate their effects in the future...

NSF relies on several programs to quickly distribute research resources. NSF’s Rapid Response Research (RAPID) supports projects with severe urgency regarding the availability of or access to data, facilities or specialized equipment including quick-response research on natural disasters. Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) are another source of rapid funding and provide support to conduct fundamental research representing exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. Researchers can also request supplemental funding to existing awards. Details on these funding options are available in NSF’s recent "Dear Colleague" letters found on the Natural Disasters webpage."

Hurricane Irma Dear Colleague Letter

Hurricane Harvey Dear Colleague Letter

Jonathan Nurse

Rep. Dunn Seeks Your Input on Tax Reform

Rep. Dunn Seeks Your Input on Tax Reform

Representative Neal Dunn and the House majority have requested input from stakeholders to help inform any tax reform legislation that they put forward.

The package may impact several items of interest to the academic community including tax credits for higher education, student loan interest deduction, as well as the charitable deductions that schools use to encourage philanthropy. In a July letter to the Senate Finance Committee, the American Council on Education touched on many of these issue. The letter was joined by 18 other national higher education associations.

You can share your input through an online form shared by Rep. Dunn's office.

Jonathan Nurse

Senate Panel Advances NIH and Pell Grant Increases

Earlier today, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees health and education programs put forward a FY 2018 increase of $2 billion or 5.9% for the National Institutes of Health and a 1.7% increase for the discretionary part of the Pell Grant program that would result in a new maximum award of $6,020 or $100 above the current level. Additionally, the Senate bill contains language that prevents the administration from implementing its proposed 10% cap on reimbursement of Facilities and Administrative costs on NIH grants. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to approve the bill tomorrow.

The Senate's appropriations numbers will ultimately need to be squared with those put forward by the House. However, before that the chambers will need to increase the nation's debt limit, advance a stop-gap funding measure (continuing resolution) to keep the government open beyond the October 1 start of the new fiscal year, and come to agreement on an overall spending level for the government. It's likely that, through a continuing resolution, Congress will put off final decisions on FY 2018 appropriations until December.

Majority Summary
Minority Summary

Jonathan Nurse

Naval Research Seeking Summer 2018 Interns

The Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP) is seeking interns to work in Department of Navy laboratories next summer. Participants spend 10 weeks during the summer conducting research in one of 38 labs, including four in Florida. The application deadline is October 31, 2017.


Jonathan Nurse

Trump Administration Announces Planned End to DACA

Today, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security communicated President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by March 5, 2018. The program was put into place in 2012, by then President Barack Obama, to allow undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors to receive temporary protected status from deportation along with work authorization. Attorneys general from several states threatened to sue the federal government if President Trump did not end the program by September 5, reportedly prompting today’s announcement. In the announcement, the administration punted the decision on the ultimate future of DACA back to Congress.

The response from the higher education community is expected to be strong. Several national associations have already issued statements (see below) and significant direct advocacy is expected. Congress will have just a few months to put forward legislation, addressing the DREAMers, which to date has been elusive.

DHS Memorandum on Rescission of DACA

DHS Fact Sheet on Rescission of DACA

DHS FAQs on Rescission of DACA

Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities Statement

Association of American Universities Statement

American Council on Education Statement


Jonathan Nurse

Rep. Rooney of Florida Proposes Cut to IES

Representative Francis Rooney of Florida's 19th congressional district has offered a one sentence amendment -- to a FY 2018 spending bill -- that would cut the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) by $195.3 million. For some context, the president's FY 2018 budget requested level funding (compared with the estimated baseline used at the time) at $616.8 million for IES. His budget request ultimately proved to be a suggested 1.9% increase when compared with the final FY 2017 appropriation provided by Congress.

According to the FY 2018 budget request, funds would support:

"...critical investments in education research, development, dissemination, and evaluation that provide parents, teachers, schools, and policymakers with evidence-based information on effective educational practices. The request would enable IES to sustain its efforts to produce and support the use of evidence-based practices in the field and in the Department, make approximately $34.9 million in new research awards, and continue disseminating information about what works in education to States and localities."

If the House Rules Committee allows the amendment to go forward for consideration by the full House, a considerable response is expected from the higher education community in advance of a vote.

***Update (09/14/17)*** This amendment was not ultimately put forward

Jonathan Nurse

Welcome to the FSU Federal Relations Blog

Greetings from Washington, DC! As many of you know, FSU has an Office Federal Relations in our nation’s capital. The goal of the office is to facilitate productive interactions between our campus, Congress, federal agencies, as well as with other universities and higher education/research advocacy groups. The office also aims to provide timely information on how developments at the federal level impact the work of individuals on campus. To that end, we’re excited to launch this blog, which will focus on research and student aid policy developments at the federal level. We hope that this new resource helps in your efforts to stay abreast of developments in DC that are relevant to your role at FSU.  

Please feel free to email or call (850-645-9102) FSU Federal Relations with questions or thoughts on any of the items posted on the blog or to share ideas/information for posts that might be of interest to our community. Please also follow us on Twitter @FSUFedRel.

Jonathan Nurse

Trump Administration Communicates R&D Priorities

Trump Administration Communicates R&D Priorities

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy joined in a guidance memo to federal agencies on the administration's research and development priorities for Fiscal Year 2019. The memo credits R&D for sparking economic growth and promoting national security. The document also articulates the need for federal funding for R&D. The R&D priority areas mentioned in the document include military superiority, homeland security, energy dominance, and health.

The memo asks that agencies avoid creating duplicative programs and identify existing R&D efforts that would be more effectively completed in the private sector. The administration is particularly interested in supporting innovative early-stage research, maximizing inter-agency coordination, developing a future-focused workforce, and modernizing research infrastructure.

Jonathan Nurse

Congress Set to Return to 2018 Funding Debate

On Tuesday, September 5 Congress will return from its August recess. Members will have a full agenda, with Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations for federal agencies and programs, healthcare, and tax reform at the top of the list. Thus far in the FY 2018 appropriations process, the House and Senate have operated with different top-line budget numbers. The differing starting points, and House focus on increasing Defense spending at the expense of other programs, can be seen in the very different funding allocations put forward for agencies and programs of interest –see chart below. 

The chambers will need to settle their differences on the top-line budget in the days ahead, so that final spending bills can be passed and a government shutdown avoided. Work on appropriations for FY 2018 is further complicated by the president's threat to shutdown the government if funding is not provided to support a wall along the southern border. Leaders on Capitol Hill have pushed back on the suggestion of a government shutdown. Despite various challenges to the appropriations process, it’s already clear that Congress intends to reverse many of the cuts to R&D that were proposed by President Trump in the spring.

FY18 Appropriations Process Update – Dollars in thousands

Agency/Office/Program FY16 Final FY17 Final FY18 President’s Request FY18 President’s Request (% Change) FY18 House FY18 Senate
Department of Defense, RDT&E 69,784,665 72,301,587 82,716,636 14.4 82,654,976  
DOD, 6.1 Basic Research 2,309,429 2,276,332 2,228,529 -2.1 2,279,529  
DOD, 6.2 Applied Research 5,003,982 5,296,175 4,973,465 -6.1 5,242,866  
DOD, 6.3 Advanced Technology Development 5,937,395 6,438,722 5,997,183 -6.9 6,277,251  
DOD, Science & Technology 13,250,806 14,011,229 13,199,177 -5.8 13,799,646  
Department of Energy, Office of Science 5,350,200 5,392,000 4,472,516 -17.1 5,392,000 5,550,000
DOE, Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy 291,000 306,000 20 -100.0 0 330,000
Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Science 734,648 706,473 450,812 -36.2 602,238  
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Science 5,589,400 5,764,900 5,711,800 -0.9 5,858,000 5,600,000
National Endowment for the Humanities 147,942 149,848 42,307 -71.8 145,000  
National Endowment for the Arts 147,949 149,849 29,000 -80.6 145,000  
National Institutes of Health 32,084,000 34,084,000 26,920,000 -21.0    
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oceanic and Atmospheric Research 461,898 477,725 350,004 -26.7 448,773 477,725
National Science Foundation 7,463,485 7,472,215 6,652,890 -11.0 7,339,000 7,310,000
National Institute of Standards and Technology 964,000 952,000 725,000 -23.8 865,000 944,000
Jonathan Nurse