January 17, 2013
Washington, DC: This week, Congress passed a $1.1 Trillion Omnibus spending bill that will fund the federal government through the end of Fiscal Year 2014 and will addresses a number of key policy questions important to STEM education advocates. The bill, which passed the House 359-67 and the Senate 72-26, marks the end of several years of stop-gap spending measures that led to a partial government shutdown last Fall and have fueled massive uncertainty for education systems nationwide.
A number of key STEM issues were addressed in the bill:
- Federal STEM Reorganization: The Omnibus contains an extremely strong statement rejecting the Administration’s STEM reorganization plan as “was incomplete and lacked sufficient detail” and directing OSTP to “reexamine other possible reorganizations of Federal STEM programs for consideration in a future fiscal year after engaging in an inclusive development process.” This provision in the bill responds directly to Congressional testimony the Coalition delivered at a November hearing on the subject of federal STEM education programs and will provide STEM stakeholders with a new opportunity to have input into the Administration’s plans for STEM education, an issue the Coalition has pushed aggressively for the last year. See the full bill language on this topic here (Page 111)
- Dep. of Ed Math and Science Partnership Program Preserved: The Omnibus continues funding at $149.7 million for the DoEd’s Math and Science Partnership program, even though overall DoEd funding was reduced by some $4 billion. Our Coalition worked closely with the Senate Appopriations Committee staff to ensure funding for this key STEM program was not lost in the massive Ominus bill negotiation process that played out behind closed doors over the Holidays.
- NSF STEM Programs: The bill provides $846 million for NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate, about $15 million above the current spending level. Considering that NSF overall only received roughly $100 more in funding than last year spread across a $7.1 billion budget, this is a clear decision by Appropriators to value NSF education programs. The Appropriators also reverse proposed cuts to informal learning and diversity-related STEM programs.
President Obama is expected to deliver his State of the Union address on January 28th and the Fiscal Year 2015 federal budget process will begin again several weeks later.