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Senate Approves FY 2013 Spending Bill; Both Chambers Turn to FY 2014 Budget

March 20, 2013

Senate Passes CR

ACE, Higher Education Groups: House Budget Proposal Is “Wrong Path”

The Senate voted 73-26 today to approve its version of the FY 2013 spending package (HR. 933) needed to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The $984 billion measure now returns to the House, which is expected to quickly give final approval and send it to President Obama. Swift passage is needed to avert a government shutdown on March 27, when the current continuing resolution (CR) runs out.

While the Senate version of H.R. 933 is different from the version passed by the House on March 6, it retains the funding levels in the House bill as well as the $85 billion in automatic sequestration cuts, which went into effect March 1.

The House bill funded Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs programs, and the Senate measure adds appropriations for Agriculture, Homeland Security and Commerce, Justice and Science, along with amendments aimed at specific programs.

Among the amendments approved is one sponsored by Sens. Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) that would reallocate funding so that the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard could continue their Tuition Assistance programs for active-duty troops.

Also approved was a modified version of Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) amendment to defund political science research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which ACE is on record as strongly opposing. The revised amendment would require the NSF director to certify that any research funded by the agency demonstrates national security value or economic benefit.

The CR’s passage paves the way for both chambers to begin considering their respective versions of the FY 2014 budget resolution. The House is expected to pass its measure by tomorrow, while the Senate may work into the weekend on its bill.

ACE and 13 other higher education associations sent a letter to House members yesterday, outlining their objections to their budget resolution.

The groups strongly oppose the proposal’s Pell Grant provision, which would reduce funding for the program by $86 billion over the next 10 years. They also object to plans to eliminate the federal student loan in-school interest exemption, curtail income-based repayment options and slash research funding, which has already been impacted by sequestration.

The differences between the two measures—once approved—should be resolved by a House-Senate conference, though it is unclear if that will be possible.

Meanwhile, President Obama is expected to send his FY 2014 budget proposal to Congress on Monday, April 8. The proposal is more than two months late, which the administration attributes to Congress's delay in completing work on FY 2013 appropriations as well as sequestration.

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