Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Record Update First

Congress, Obama agree on remaining 2009 appropriations

President Obama on Wednesday signed into law the FY ’09 omnibus appropriations bill that will further increase support for a number of higher education and research priorities for the remainder of the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Last fall, Congress was unable to complete action on nine of the 12 annual appropriations bills, forcing it to resume debate of these important pieces of legislation in the new Congress this year. Unlike the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the funds in these bills will go toward maintaining and strengthening the financial base of key agencies from which universities and students draw billions of dollars in support.

For key research agencies, the legislation will provide the following:
• National Institutes of Health: $30.317 billion, an increase of $937.7 million over FY08
• National Science Foundation: $6.5 billion, $363 million above FY0808
• Department of Energy Office of Science: $4.8 billion, $755 million above FY08
• National Aeronautics and Space Administration: $17.8 billion, $385 million above FY08
• National Institute of Standards and Technology Research: $819 million, $63.1 million above FY08
• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $4.4 billion, $468.7 million above FY08
• National Endowment for the Humanities: $155 million, $10.3 millions increase over FY08

For financial aid, the bill provides increased funding for many essential programs such as Pell Grants, SEOG, GEAR UP and Perkins Loan Cancellations. It also includes increases for the graduate-level GAANN and Javits Fellowships, and for international education programs.

The omnibus bill includes language that will fix an error made in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The new law will allow drug manufacturers once again to offer nominally priced prescription drugs to university-based health and family-planning clinics.

While the president signed the legislation, he scolded lawmakers for including “earmarks” in its provisions — specific line items placed in the legislation for projects in various lawmakers’ states or districts. He vowed to implement greater transparency in the future in the area of such congressionally directed spending.

Washington will now turn its focus on the FY ’10 budget. In February, the president sent a broad outline of his FY ’10 budget proposal to Congress. More details are expected in the coming weeks.