Vigil Continues Against Federal Cuts in Funding

On May 18, the House of Representatives passed its FY 96 Budget Resolution 283 to 193. The Senate is expected to complete debate and vote on its resolution by next week.

Both resolutions would balance the federal budget by 2002. The House bill includes a tax cut; the Senate reinstates the firewalls between domestic spending and defense.

Budget resolutions are non-binding, but broad targets must be met when the appropriations committees finally tally up their spending for the 1996 fiscal year. The House budget, according to some sources, assumes a 34 percent (once inflation is adjusted) reduction in domestic outlays for non-defense discretionary funding. The Senate assumes an approximately 29 percent reduction over seven years.

Ellen S. Smith, director of federal relations, said that senior leadership at Columbia--President Rupp, Provost Cole and Vice President Pardes--has been and will continue to be committed to working strenuously along with faculty and students to reduce the rate of cuts in any one area. "The very future of our nation's investment in its students, new knowledge and discoveries may be at stake if some of the proposed reductions are not moderated," she said.

Among the assumptions in the $206 billion House nondefense discretionary funding reduction are elimination of non-defense spending in the Department of Defense and the reduction or elimination of social, behavioral and economic sciences in the National Science Foundation (NSF) as well as the Critical Technologies Institute. NSF basic research is protected, but cuts in research are assumed at the National Institutes of Health.

The House resolution also calls for the elimination of the Departments of Energy, Commerce and Education. Although not specifying cuts in federal student-loan interest subsidy, the amount of savings assumed suggests elimination of in-school interest subsidy for all students. No language on indirect costs of research is included. Changes in Medicare include cuts to indirect medical education.

The Senate resolution assumes elimination of $100 million in NSF research funds and the Department of Commerce. In the area of financial aid, the Senate assumes that the in-school interest subsidy is eliminated. A minimum 20 percent NIH reduction is assumed. The resolution also assumes a major cut in Medicare, to be determined by a bipartisan commission.

Columbia University Record -- May 26, 1995 -- Vol. 20, No. 30