Wins and Losses in the Labor-H Draft Bill

Late last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Health, Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-H) passed a funding bill, sending it on to the full committee for consideration. The full committee is scheduled to take up the bill on Wednesday, July 19th at 10am.

As it stands now, the draft bill includes some very positive news for humanities funding: IMLS would receive the same amount of funding as in FY 2017 ($231 million) despite the Trump Administration’s efforts to defund the agency. In addition, the bill provides level funding ($65 million) for the Department of Education’s Title VI international education programs. This is a win for the humanities community, given that the Trump Administration also proposed the elimination of these programs.

Unfortunately, following the president’s request, the bill proposes the elimination of the Fulbright-Hays program.

Title VI and Fulbright-Hays are Department of Education programs that work in tandem to support foreign language learning and international education. Fulbright-Hays ensures that students and teachers can acquire language and area expertise with on-the-ground experience overseas through two programs: Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad, which provides grants to colleges and universities to fund individual doctoral students to conduct research abroad, particularly in world regions not normally included in U.S. curricula; and Group Projects Abroad, which supports seminars, curriculum development, group research, and advanced intensive language programs for American teachers, students, and faculty abroad.

The House subcommittee’s failure to fund Fulbright-Hays is especially concerning because in recent years, we have counted on House support to offset the Senate’s efforts to defund these programs. During last year’s appropriation’s process, the Senate proposed just $2.2 million in funding for Fulbright-Hays, just enough for continuation grants and an effort to phase out the program. The House, meanwhile, proposed level funding at $7 million. In final negotiations for FY 2017, Congress ultimately agreed on the House’s number, ensuring the (temporary) continuation of Fulbright-Hays. 

Given the Senate’s recent history of proposed cuts and the new proposal in the House, it is crucial that Members of Congress hear from us now. It is not too late to encourage the House to change course and restore funding for Fulbright-Hays. The Senate, meanwhile, is just starting to roll out appropriations bills and there is time to influence their numbers.

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