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2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Summary


January 6, 2016

After days of intense negotiations in Congress, President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2016 omnibus appropriations bill, also known as the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016.” The $1.1 trillion spending bill funds the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year. 

 

Among the highlights of the omnibus measure, it provides:

  • $140 increase in the maximum Pell grant award to $5,915 in the 2016-17 school year
  • $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health
  • $17.5 million increase for University Partnerships, which provides for “new” partnerships between higher education institutions in the United States and developing countries. (Prior bills solely focused on partnerships with African institutions)
  • $60 million increase for TRIO Programs and $21 million increase for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).
  • Funds for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences remain at FY 2015 level despite mandatory cuts to SBE and to the Geosciences that were included in the House bill.

  


 

FIU federal priorities that were adequately addressed in the omnibus bill (see report language below) include:

  • Accelerated Bridge Construction
  • Sea Level Rise
  • Wall of Wind
  • Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model
  • Minority Science Center
  • Advanced Prosthetics 

 


 

Federal Agency/Hill omnibus bill highlights (broken down by appropriations subcommittee):

    

Agriculture:

 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative = $350 million, a $25 million increase over FY 2015

 

Commerce-Justice-Science:

National Science Foundation (NSF) = $7.463 billion, a $119 million increase over FY 2015

  • The agreement provides that funds for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences shall be up to the FY 2015 level.  This provision precludes mandatory cuts to SBE and to the Geosciences that were included in the House bill.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) = $5.8 billion, a $325 million increase over FY 2015

  • Oceanic and Atmospheric Research = $462 million, an increase of $29 million over FY 2015
  • Sea Grant + Marine Aquaculture Program = $73 million, an $5.7 million increase over FY 2015

 

Defense:

DoD Research Development Test and Evaluation

  • Science & Technology = $13.251 billion, an increase of $999 million over FY 2015 (after DoD reprogrammed some FY 2015 appropriated funds)
  • Basic Research = $2.309 billion, an increase of $31 million over FY 2015
  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) = $2.891 billion, a decrease of $25 million below FY 2015

    

Labor-Health and Human Services-Education:

HHS:

  • NIH = $32.084 billion, a $2 billion increase over FY 2015  
    • $200 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative
    • $936 million (an increase of $350 million) for Alzheimer’s disease research 
    • $150 million (an increase of $85 million) for the BRAIN Initiative
    • $100 million increase for research to combat antimicrobial resistance

Education:

  • Pell Grants = $22.5 billion, flat with FY 2015
    • When combined with mandatory funding, the appropriation provides for the scheduled $140 increase in the maximum Pell award to $5,915 in the 2016-17 school year
  • ​TRIO = $900 million, an increase of $60 million over FY 2015

  • GEAR UP = $323 million, an increase of $21 million over FY 2015

  • International Education/Title VI = $72 million, flat funding with FY 2015
    • $65 million for domestic
    • $7 million for overseas

     

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs:

University Partnerships = $35 million, an increase of $17.5 million over FY 2015

  • The bill provides for “not less than $35 million” for “new” partnerships between higher education institutions in theUnited States and developing countries
  • Prior bills included a focus just on partnerships with African institutions

Innovation Labs = $50 million

  • The bill would provide funding for all of the Innovation Labs, not just the subset that are former Collaborative Research Support Programs, now-called “Collaborative Innovation Labs”
  • Prior appropriations bills only funded the “Collaborative Labs” ($32 million in FY 2015), which now are just nine of the 25 Labs

   


   

The following FIU priorities and their respective report language made it into the omnibus bill:

 

Accelerated Bridge Construction

"According to the Federal Highway Administration, nearly one fourth of the nation’s bridges require repair, rehabilitation, or replacement, or are not designed to current standards. On-site construction can lead to significantly decreased mobility and safety. To help reduce these impacts, and produce long-lasting bridges, the Committee encourages the Department to have one of the TIER– 1 University Transportation Centers focus on accelerated bridge construction."

 

Sea Level Rise

Climate and Land Use Change - "...the Committee directs the U.S. Geological Survey's Southeast Center to continue to work on developing strategic decision making approaches to understanding the region’s most vulnerable, flood-prone, coastal areas."

 

Wall of Wind

Windstorm research and disaster resiliency - "As part of its efforts to improve the resiliency of buildings, NIST’s Engineering Division is encouraged to partner with academic research institutions that have expertise in the effects of natural disasters to replicate high-force windstorm impacts on buildings and test large, integrated models of such impacts."

 

Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model

Storm surge modeling - "The Committee encourages NOAA to solicit input from the academic research community to examine alternative real-time storm surge predictive capabilities that account for regional variances and may complement NOAA’s Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model."

 

Minority Science Center

NOAA education program - "The Committee includes $16,431,000, the amount requested, for NOAA’s education program. Of this amount, $15,000,000 is provided to continue the Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions. Within these funds, NOAA is encouraged to create an additional Cooperative Science Center at an Hispanic Serving Institution."

 

Advanced/Neuro-Prosthetics

Advanced Prosthetics - "The Committee encourages VA to fund research at the intersection of bioengineering, neuroscience, and rehabilitation to support neural interfaces to peripheral nerves and advanced prosthetics that deliver more functionality to amputees."

Intelligent Prosthetics - "The Committee recommends $30,000,000 for the peer-reviewed orthopedic research program. The Committee is aware that many of the injuries sustained by servicemembers in combat include multiple limb trauma and are often distinct from trauma typically seen in the civilian environment, thus requiring a unique solution set. The Committee encourages the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to support research at the intersection of bioengineering, neuroscience, and rehabilitation to support neural interfaces to peripheral nerves and advanced prosthetics that deliver more functionality to amputees."

      

STEM Recruitment for Workforce Development 

Although it was not designated as a priority of ours, this provision is noteworthy

"The Committee supports research engagement and workforce recruitment efforts of students from leading universities trained in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Therefore, the Committee encourages the federal intelligence community’s human capital and science and technology officers to develop and invest in a focused program designed to attract a large pool of STEM students from the nation’s university community. Such efforts may include cooperative agreements, fellowships, summer internships, and sponsored research between the university community and the intelligence community. The Committee directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the congressional defense committees not later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act on the progress to develop and implement such initiatives."