US Congress rejects Trump’s proposed research funding cuts

Support for medical science and the humanities will increase under 2017 budget deal

May 2, 2017
United States of America president-elect Donald Trump speaking at podium
Source: iStock

US congressional leaders have announced a 6 per cent budget increase for the National Institutes of Health, just weeks after Donald Trump proposed for its funding allocation to decline by 18 per cent.

Bipartisan negotiators reached a deal on 1 May on a $1 trillion (£774 billion) spending bill that would fund the government until the end of September.

In a big victory for universities, the bill includes a $2 billion – or 6 per cent – increase in funding for the NIH, the main government agency responsible for biomedical and health-related research.

The Trump administration’s budget blueprint for 2018, laid out in March, called for a $6 billion or 18 per cent cut in the NIH funding, including a $1.2 billion reduction this year.

It also proposed a 31 per cent reduction in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, but this has been changed to a 3 per cent cut by Congress.

Meanwhile, the National Endowments for the Humanities and for the Arts will each receive $150 million for the rest of 2017, up from the $148 million they received in 2016. Mr Trump had called for this funding to be axed altogether.

There will also be a modest funding increase for the National Science Foundation.

Academics had warned that the funding cuts outlined by the Trump administration would be “devastating” for research in the country.

While the bill outlines that funding for the Pell Grant programme, which provides financial assistance to low-income students, will remain the same, it reinstates summer grants, which were eliminated in 2012.

It also includes a $7.5 million increase in funding for institutional development programmes aimed at supporting master’s degree programmes at historically black universities.

Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities, applauded the announcement and said it “avoids flat funding many important programmes and supports our efforts to spur job growth, improve our national health, and reinforce our national security”.

Legislators in the House of Representatives and the Senate are expected to vote on the bill by the end of the week.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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