The University Record, July 10, 1995

Federal appropriations process likely to be long one

By Jared Blank

With the June 29 completion of a spending plan for 1996, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have begun the appropriations process. The 13 House appropriations subcommittees are expected to complete their work before the August recess. The Senate is expected to act on its version of each of the 13 bills by September. The schedule calls for conclusion of the appropriations process by Oct. 1.

Because of the controversial nature of the bills, Tom Butts, associate vice president for government relations, does not believe that the process will be finished on schedule. "There are significant differences of opinion between the administration and Congress on appropriations. Also, because of the complexity of the budget reconciliation bill, which will address the issues of tax cuts, student loan interest and Medicare, we can expect a long fall," he says.

Two key House appropriations subcommittees are expected to meet today (July 10) to mark up their appropriations bills. The Labor/Heath and Human Services/Education Subcommittee oversees appropriations for the National Institutes for Health, student aid programs and international and graduate fellowships. The Housing and Urban Development (HUD)/Veterans Administration/Independent Agencies subcommittee sets funding levels for the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Labor Subcommittee will be working with about 15 percent less money than last year, and the HUD Subcommittee will have about 12 percent less.

One of the major battles affecting higher education in the reconciliation bill will be how Congress will cut $10 billion over seven years from federal student loan programs. The budget resolution assumes that a major portion of the cuts will come from the elimination of the in-school interest subsidy for graduate and professional students.

"This cut," Butts notes, "raises questions as to whether reductions should be taken from students or from lenders, guarantee agencies and secondary markets. We feel that students should not have to pay for the bulk of this cut."

Butts says that the University's Washington, D.C., office continues to monitor the appropriations and budget process and to make known the concerns of the University community. If you have specific questions, call the office at (202) 554-0578 or e-mail Butts (tombutts@umich.edu) or Bob Samors (rsamors@umich.edu).