Welcome to the Federal Relations Blog


As the 112th Congress reconvenes after the winter break, the University of Delaware’s office of Federal Relations has created this blog to keep UD faculty and staff up to date on the actions of Congress & the Administration.  The goal is to highlight most of the federal action that will have an impact on higher education and federally funded research.  If there is a topic or area you would like additional focus please feel free to contact me and make your request.

Congress passes FY14 omnibus; break down of science funding

On the 16th of January, Congress passed the FY14 omnibus, which was then signed by the President. The 1.1 Trillion dollar bill will keep the government running through October 30th of this year. AAAS has created an excellent document breaking down the science funding included in the bill. You can find the AAAS document here

Please feel free to contact me with any questions

Short Term CR Filed in House Today

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) filed a “clean” three-day continuing resolution today because of ongoing negotiations between the House and Senate on the drafting of the FY14 omnibus. The current CR expires on January 15 and the extension would last through January 18. It is believed that Appropriation Committee negotiations are to be completed this weekend and time for floor action to be completed in both chambers next week for the final FY14 omnibus.

FY13 Continuing Resolution finalized through Congress, averts Govt. Shutdown

Last week, after much posturing in the beginning of March, Congress came to agreement on a “hybrid” spending bill for FY13 which has both the FY13 CR language as well as a handful of new appropriations bills. The combination bill puts into place new spending bills for the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Also included was the DoD spending bill.  All other agencies are funded through a year long CR which will continue “flat funding” at FY12 levels.  The bills do not take into consideration sequestration, so cuts of 5-7% will be placed on these final numbers.  The President is expected to sign the bill.

AAAS has complied a report based on the final numbers and sequestration cuts, which lay out how R&D spending fared through the FY 2013 sequester shockwave. Based on that analysis, federal R&D investment will equal about $130.9 billion in FY 2013, down from FY 2012.  Cut and paste the link below to see the report.


FY13 Continuing Resolution moves forward in the House

Last week the House passed the FY13 Continuing Resolution and the FY13 Department of Defense appropriations bill. The CR will extend funding for other government agencies at last year’s levels but include a 0.098% across-the-board reduction “to ensure that aggregate spending in the Act complies with the discretionary spending limits in the Budget Control Act of 2011.” The bill’s top-line discretionary spending is set at $1.043 trillion. It is on top of these funding levels that the federal departments and agencies will be subject to sequestration cuts.  The Senate will likely take action this week to move the appropriations process forward via a companion CR and avert a government shut down.


Sequestration went into effect on March 1st, after a 2 month “push back” from the original January 2nd deadline.  This time around there were no real last minute efforts on behalf of the leadership of Congress or the White House to avert the cuts with a “grand bargain”.  It appears that posturing aside sequestration will be in effect likely through the the fiscal year.  As mentioned previously the sequester is a 10 year budget cutting “worst case option” that was enacted in the Budget Control Act of 2011.  While the cuts are scheduled to be approximately 5-7% in discretionary spending,  due to the compressed nature of the cuts on FY13, it will be a much larger impact at 9-13%.  The University is anticipating a cut of 5.5 M dollars in FY13 alone and we will continue to press for the need to stop the sequester and urge Congress to come up with a “grand bargain”.

Sequestration deadline looming

Sequestration has 13 days left before the deadline expires, which would set into motion a budget cut of 5.1% across the board to all non-defense agencies.  DOD discretionary budgets would experience a cut of 7.3%.  These cuts would have a significant impact on the University of Delaware, which would experience a cut approximately in the 5.5 to 7M dollar range in the 2013 alone.  Attached you will find a memo from Senate Budget chairwoman Patty Murray, who details out what those overall federal impacts could mean.

As February 28th inches closer, it appears that country will likely go into sequestration, though President Obama has been making calls to “kick the can” down the road and delay the automatic cuts by a few more months.  With less than 2 weeks of time left to go, an a rapid fire of press leading the public to believe that sequester will happen, March 1st and the spending cut impact will be felt nationwide.




Higher education association’s response to the State of the Union Address


February 12, 2013— Washington, D.C. – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson tonight released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.  Serving 217 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and education-related organizations, APLU is the nation’s oldest higher education association. Member campuses enroll more than 3.6 million undergraduate and 1.1 million graduate students, employ more than 670,000 faculty and administrators, and conduct nearly two-thirds of all university-based research, totaling more than $34 billion annually.

“I was very pleased to hear President Obama speak so enthusiastically this evening about the need to invest in research, much of which occurs at our public and land-grant universities. The President clearly understands that a strong federal commitment to research at our universities is directly linked to our nation’s ability to provide economic opportunities for our citizens.

“With sequestration looming less than three weeks away, those research universities are facing an enormous threat to their continued success and the American economy is at risk of harming an important driver of innovation.  Unless President Obama and Congress come to an agreement to avert sequestration, federal funding for research and development will lose approximately $10 billion this year and more than $90 billion through 2021.  This would reduce GDP by about $330 billion with 200,000 fewer R&D jobs over just the next four years.

“Public universities provide very high value to their graduates.  Despite dealing with reduced state funding at the same time their enrollments have increased, public universities have worked to keep costs down through a variety of steps, including streamlining administrative processes and consolidating or eliminating courses and programs.  Public universities have an obligation to provide value, contain costs, and achieve high graduation rates that result in a well-educated workforce.  Public universities will continue to work to reduce costs while they strengthen quality.  As part of that process, we will carefully study the President’s proposal when it’s released.”


Science Coalition:

The Science Coalition was very pleased to hear the President emphasize in his State of theUnion address the fundamental role that science and innovation play in driving the economy.  As the President said, investments in research are “job-creating” investments.  While research accounts for a tiny percentage of the overall federal budget, science-driven innovation has fueled as much as half of all U.S. economic growth since World War II.

 Today, America’s research institutions are making huge strides in tackling the nation’s greatest challenges in health care, energy, the environment and defense.  We join the President in his goal to “reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race” and we urge Congress to end the budget sequester now.  Sequestration not only threatens our ability to reach this goal, but would reduce research spending to historic lows.

 As the nation works to kick our economy into high gear, now is the time to invest more – not less – in the basic scientific and medical research that will produce the discoveries, innovations and talent to ensure our strong future.

White House delays release of Sequestration report

Last week, the White House was expected to release its report that was required by the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (Pub.L. 112-155), which was signed by the President on August 7th and gave the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMBOffice of Management and Budget) 30 days to outline how it would implement the more than $100 billion in spending cuts during FY13. While the cuts are supposed to be taken across-the-board, the Office of Management and Budget has final say on how they would be implemented. Until now, the White House has remained mum on how sequestration would be implemented, instead focusing their efforts on how to stop sequestration.  They announced that the report would be delayed for approximately one week.

Congressional Leadership agrees to CR to be voted on in September

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced on July 31 that they and President Obama have agreed on a plan to fund the government for the first six months of the new fiscal year, thus avoiding a pre-election battle over spending for FY13, which begins on October 1.  The continuing resolution (CR) would fund the government through March 2013 at the overall discretionary spending level approved in last year’s Budget Control Act.  This level has been used by the Senate for the FY13 appropriations process, but the House has used a figure $19 billion below that level. The CR will be drafted over the August recess, and Congress will wait until September to vote on the bill.

The CR will not take into account the looming sequestration, and so it will be interesting to see how agencies release funding opportunities through January.

House passes first Appropriations bill; Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act

After two days of various floor votes on the Commerce, Justice & Science bill, the House passed it’s first FY13 appropriations bill. Before officially passing the C-J-S legislation, the House took up and adopted H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act.  The legislation will serve as the budget for the House for FY2013.

The overall discretionary spending level contained in legislation is $19 billion below the level contained in the Budget Control Act of last year.  It seeks to prevent the impending sequestration of the defense budget with cuts from mandatory domestic programs through the reconciliation process. However, the Senate will not take this path.  There is an overall desire to not fall under the sequester rules that are pending in January, but a road out through both Houses is not clear at this point.