DC Digest – July 14, 2017

In Today’s Issue:
  • Appropriations Numbers: NSF, NASA, DOE, ARPA-E, NIH, Dept of Ed, NEH, NEA, EPA
  • Budget Resolution (?)
  • Immigration Update: Travel Ban Extension, Foreign Students, DACA
  • Sexual Assault Guidelines
  • Student Loan Debt CBO Score
  • New ACA Repeal Bill


The House has been working hard this week outlining bills to fund the government and the outcomes of several large bills germane to the Duke community are detailed below. 

Subcommittee approval

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

  • NIH
    • The bill provides a total of $35.2 billion for NIH, an increase of $1.1 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $8.6 billion above the President’s FY 18 budget request.

A few highlights:

– $1.8 billion, a $400 million increase, for Alzheimer’s disease research,

– $336 million, a $76 million increase, for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative,

– $400 million, a $80 million increase, for the All of Us research initiative (formerly called the Precision Medicine Initiative),

– $300 million for the Cancer Moonshot,

– $10 million for regenerative medicine research,
 an $8 million increase

– Preserves the Fogarty International Center, providing $73.3 million in funding.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs

The bill contains language blocking NIH from administratively limiting F&A rates.

SEC. 228. In making Federal financial assistance, the NIH shall continue to apply the provisions relating to indirect costs… Code of Federal Regulations, including with respect to the approval of deviations from negotiated rates, to the same extent and in the same manner as the NIH applied such provisions in the third quarter of fiscal year 2017. None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be used by the NIH to develop or implement a modified approach to such provisions, or to intentionally or substantially expand the fiscal effect of the approval of such deviations from negotiated rates beyond the proportional effect of such approvals in such quarter.

  • Department of Education
    • Pell Grant maximum award maintained at $5,920
    • $990 million for Federal Work Study
    • $733 million for SEOG
    • $65 million for International Education
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
    • Reverses proposed elimination of NEH and NEA by providing $145 million for each Endowment, $4.8 million below FY 17.
    • $629 million for EPA Science and Technology, 11.8% below FY 17 and about 33% above FY 18 request.

House Appropriations Full Committee Approval

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

  • NSF
    • $7.3 billion in FY 2018, which is 1.8 percent below the FY 2017 enacted level but 10.3 percent above the President’s request.
  • NASA
    • $19.871 billion in funding for NASA, which is $218.5 million above FY17.
      • Science: The committee recommends $5.858 billion for the Science Mission Directorate (SMD), which is $93.6 billion above the FY17 funding level and $146.7 million above the FY18 budget request.

Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies

  • DOE Office of Science
    • $5.39 billion, which is the same as FY 17 and 17% above the FY 18 budget request.
    • ARPA-E
      • The bill continues with proposed elimination of ARPA-E


House Budget Chairman Diane Black is teaming up with the White House in a last-ditch attempt to reach a budget resolution agreement. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney has started calling up his former House GOP colleagues, urging them to get in line behind the long-delayed proposal.

Budget leaders are leaning on Mulvaney to convince the Freedom Caucus holdouts to back the GOP budget plan. Mulvaney needs that same budget resolution to achieve tax reform.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said July 11, he hopes to defuse a contentious battle over the nation’s borrowing limit before the upper chamber adjourns next month.

“Ideally we would deal with the debt ceiling before the August recess,” McConnell told reporters at his weekly press conference.

McConnell did not rule out attaching spending cuts to the debt measure. “We’ll see,” he said. “But the debt ceiling must be raised.”

House Republicans Weigh Massive Partisan Spending Bill

House GOP leaders will decide next week whether to brave a floor fight over a massive GOP spending bill — a proposal applauded by some rank-and-file Republicans.

In a closed-door GOP conference meeting the morning of July 14, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said all 12 appropriations bills will be finished in committee by the end of next week. Starting Monday, leadership will begin a tentative whip count on whether lawmakers would vote for a package before the August recess that combines all of those bills into one $1 trillion government funding bill.


Travel Ban Extension Possible

President Donald Trump’s travel ban may soon extend to many more countries under new visa procedures described in a State Department cable to consulates.

The new consular guidance, which the State Department sent out Wednesday, follows through on Trump’s March 6 executive order, which called for a worldwide review of visa security measures by the Department of Homeland Security. The tighter standards for granting visas would be implemented over a 50-day period, according to the cable. If nations do not comply after that time, ‘designated categories’ of travelers from those countries could be banned from the U.S., the cable said.

DHS Proposal Could Increase Scrutiny of Foreign Students

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering a proposal that would require foreign students to reapply for permission to stay in the U.S. every year. DHS officials have cautioned that the plan is in preliminary stages and if the Department moves forward, the required regulatory changes could take a minimum of 18 months. They also noted the plan may require agreement from the State Department.

Foreign Estrange Students

DACA Still up in the Air

President Trump equivocated Wednesday about the fate of an Obama-era deportation relief program, according to accounts from reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday night.

“It’s a decision that I make, and it’s a decision that’s very, very hard to make. I really understand the situation now,” Trump said in a conversation en route to Paris. “What I’d like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan. But our country and political forces are not ready yet.” 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program offers deportation relief to more than 787,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age, but its future remains uncertain under Trump.


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spent Wednesday, July 13, meeting with sexual assault survivors, students who say they were falsely accused and college officials as the Trump administration considers changing federal guidance on campus sexual assault.

Comments from the meeting caused concern among advocates of Obama’s Title IX directives who say the guidance has been an important tool to crack down on sexual violence, which research shows is prevalent on campuses and grossly under-reported.

The comment “worries me about their engagement with the facts, and it worries me that they’re being advised by extreme men’s rights advocates who have a long track record of pointing to myths of sexual assault,” said Fatima Goss Graves, CEO and president of the National Women’s Law Center..

Contextual Harassment


On July 13, the Congressional Budget Office said that President Donald Trump’s proposals to trim, eliminate and consolidate the benefits available to federal student loan borrowers would save taxpayers $100 billion over the next decade — $43 billion less than the White House estimated. 

The CBO’s analysis of the Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget found that the administration’s three major student loan proposals produce lower savings than the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said they would. 

 Cost Cutting Treasures


Senate Republicans released their latest replacement bill it includes the amendment Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (UT-R) have proposed to allow slimmer health plans in the marketplace.

The other big changes include keeping some Obamacare taxes on the wealthy as well as boosting subsidies for the poor and devoting more money to fighting the opioid epidemic.

The goal is still a vote next week, but opposition is hardening within the Senate’s conservative and moderate flanks. On the same day that Sen. Rand Paul ruled out supporting the bill, Sen. Susan Collins vowed to oppose a motion to proceed.