Congressional negotiators on Monday released details on the final FY 2014 omnibus spending package, which would fund all federal government agencies through Sept. 30. Among the higher education provisions in the $1.1 trillion bill are increases for research and student aid programs that begin to restore spending to pre-sequestration levels.
The measure, known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, puts specifics on the budget agreement the House and Senate passed in December. That deal set the discretionary spending level for FY 2014 at about halfway between the relatively high number originally approved by the Senate and the much lower number adopted by the House. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the measure by Sunday. Most of the government has been operating at FY 2013 levels since Oct. 1, 2013, when FY 2014 began.
On January 14, the American Council on Education sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives; below is a transcript of that letter.
We write as organizations representing the nation’s colleges and universities to express our support for the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. This bipartisan bill takes important steps toward offsetting the damaging cuts imposed by sequestration on the education and innovation programs that spur economic growth. By reversing the recent trend of cutting funding to the programs that make America competitive, the omnibus appropriations bill lays the groundwork for strengthening our country going forward.
We are pleased that this legislation provides a level of funding for Pell Grants, Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) that will enable millions of low- income students to pursue a college education. We are particularly pleased that the funding provided for FWS and SEOG nearly reverses the cuts imposed by sequestration. The bill also restores recently eliminated funding for the TRIO and GEAR UP Programs that help students prepare for, access and succeed in postsecondary education. Furthermore, programs supporting institutions serving historically underserved populations received a partial restoration of the funding cut by sequestration. These increases will help to strengthen the capacity of these colleges to fulfill their important missions.
While the bill provides increases in funding for the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation, their budgets are still well short of pre-sequester levels. In the short-term, the additional funding provided will help to slow the significant loss of scientific research and begin to bridge the innovation deficit we have experienced as a result of the earlier cuts. We support this bill as a positive step, but encourage Congress to continue to deepen our nation’s investment in critical scientific and biomedical research.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 takes important steps to reverse the damage caused by indiscriminate sequestration cuts by restoring much of the impacted funding for student aid, institutional support and scientific research. We urge you to support this legislation when it comes to the floor.
Molly Corbett Broad
On behalf of:
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
American Association of Community Colleges
American Association of State Colleges and Universities American Indian Higher Education Consortium American Council on Education
Association of American Universities
Association of Community College Trustees
Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Council for Christian Colleges & Universities Council for Opportunity in Education
Council of Graduate Schools
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators UNCF