Political Science Now

August Update: Federal Funding for Political Science Research and Education

This spring and summer, the House and Senate went to work on appropriations bills for the 2018 fiscal year beginning in October. The House completed its legislative session on July 28, and reported all its spending bills out of the House Appropriations Committee. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science funding legislation but has yet to mark up in subcommittee its legislation funding the National Endowment for the Humanities or international education.

The House bills largely rejected the major cuts suggested in the FY18 Presidential Budget Request. However, the appropriations bill for the Department of Education (H.R. 3358) provided no funding for Fulbright-Hays programs at the department. The Department of Education’s Title VI programs received flat funding in the bill. Notably, the committee approved legislation providing $145 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities and $10 million for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The legislation cuts funds by 3.2 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively, from FY17 levels. In contrast, the administration’s budget requested that Congress begin the process of ending federal funding for those two institutions. The House Appropriations Committee also rejected the White House’s proposal to significantly cut funding for research at the National Science Foundation, appropriating $7.34 billion for the agency overall. This number represents a small overall cut to the agency’s funding. However, the House proposal holds flat funding for research and related activities.

The Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (S.1662) allocates the NSF $7.31 billion for FY18, a 2.2 percent overall decrease from the current fiscal year. In contrast to the House bill, the research budget is not shielded from the overall decrease in funding and would receive a 1.9 percent cut.

In both chambers, members of Congress expressed support for federal funding for scientific research, and raised the possibility of increasing funding if the budget cap is lifted. (See a July 14 overview  of the House bill from Science magazine and markup of the Senate CJS bill for more information.) The House and Senate are both scheduled to return to Washington on September 5, just four weeks before the start of FY18.

For updates on funding for political science research, information about APSA’s advocacy activities, and advocacy tools supporting robust funding for political science, visit APSA’s advocacy page.