Government Affairs Update

Federal Relations

End of 106th Congress

As its last act, the 106th Congress adopted a final budget package for FY2001 (which began last October 1) that greatly increases funding for research and student financial aid. Following are funding levels for programs of importance to the University of Pennsylvania.

  • National Institutes of Health: $20.3 billion, an increase of $2.5 billion or 14 percent. This is the largest increase that the NIH has ever received.
  • National Science Foundation, overall funding of $4.42 billion, an increase of 13.3 percent. This represents the largest increase in the history of the NSF.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, overall funding of $14.25 billion, an increase of 4.8 percent.
  • Department of Energy science programs, $3.17 billion, an increase of 13 percent.
  • Department of Defense basic research, $1.32 billion, an increase of 14 percent. Department of Defense applied research, $3.70 billion, an increase of 9 percent.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, $119.7 million, an increase of 4.3 percent.
  • Pell Grants: $8.76 billion, an increase of 14.6 percent ($1.17 billion). Maximum Pell Grant award will be $3,750, an increase of $450.
  • Perkins Loans, $160 million, an increase of 23.1 percent ($30 million).
  • Federal Work Study, $1.01 billion, an increase of 8.2 percent ($77 million).
  • Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN), $31 million, no change from last year.
  • Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, $10 million, no change from last year.
  • GEAR UP early intervention program to encourage college attendance, $295 million, an increase of 47.5 percent ($95 million).
  • TRIO college preparatory programming for middle school students, $730 million, an increase of 13.2 percent ($85 million).
  • Overall spending of $78 million for international programs, an increase of $8.3 million or 12 percent ($67 million for Title VI and $10 million for Fulbright-Hays).

The bill also contained a measure that will afford relief to healthcare providers who were harmed by the Medicare cuts in the 1997 balanced budget agreement. It includes the following provisions:

  • About $35 billion for providers over five years, with about one-third of that total going to hospitals.
  • A full market basket update in FY2001, and market basket minus 0.55 percent in FY2002 and FY2003.
  • A freeze in the Medicare Indirect Medical Education payment at 6.5 percent in FY2001 and FY2002, with a reduction to 5.5 percent in FY2003 and thereafter.
  • Less sharp reductions in Medicare Disproportionate Share Hospital payments. They will be reduced by 2 percent in FY2001 and 3 percent in FY2002.
  • An increase in per-resident-amount floor for Direct Graduate Medical Education payments in FY2002.
  • Elimination of Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payment cuts slated for FY2001 and FY2002.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System will receive approximately $14 million over two years as a result of these changes.

Bush Administration

President-elect Bush has announced that he has nominated the following individuals for Cabinet positions that are key to the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Secretary of Health & Human Services: Republican Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, who was elected to an unprecedented four terms in office. During his terms, Wisconsin implemented BadgerCare, a program to provide health coverage to individuals who are not eligible for Medicaid, but do not receive health insurance through their jobs. Additionally, Thompson was instrumental in the landmark "Wisconsin Works" welfare reform program, which has been widely replicated by other states.
  • Secretary of Commerce: Don Evans, who served as Chair of President-elect Bush's campaign. Evans is Chairman and CEO of Texas-based oil company Tom Brown, Inc. He chaired both of Bush's gubernatorial campaigns, and has been active on the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System.
  • Secretary of Education: Rod Paige, Superintendent of Schools for the Houston Independent School District since 1994. Paige previously served as Dean of the College of Education at Texas Southern University.

107th Congress

The 107th Congress is shaping up. The Republican have retained control of the House with a slimmer margin (Republicans-221, Democrats-212, Independents-2). The Senate however is evenly split (Republicans-50, Democrats-50). Upon President-elect George W. Bush's and Vice President-elect Dick Cheney's inauguration on January 20, 2001, the Vice President will serve as Senate President. At that time, the Republicans will have a one vote majority. As a result, the two parties have established an unprecedented power-sharing agreement that allows the Republicans to retain control of the Senate, but provides both parties with an equal share in the Senate's operations, including equal Committee membership and Committee staff.

The following key leadership and committee assignments have been announced to date in both chambers:


  • Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) will retain chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee. He also chairs the Defense appropriations subcommittee.
  • Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) will retain his chairmanship of the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations subcommittee.
  • Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) will retain his chairmanship of the VA/HUD/Independent Agencies appropriations subcommittee.
  • Senator James Jeffords (R-VT) will retain chairmanship of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will retain chairmanship of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
  • Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) will chair the Finance Committee, replacing Bill Roth (R-DE) who lost his reelection bid.
  • Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) has been elected Republican Conference Chair.


  • Congressman C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) will retain chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee.
  • Congressman Ralph Regula (R-OH) will take over the chairmanship of the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations subcommittee.
  • Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) will retain chairmanship of the Defense appropriations subcommittee.
  • Congressman James Walsh (R-NY) will retain chairmanship of the VA/HUD/Independent Agencies appropriations subcommittee.
  • Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) will chair the Education and the Workforce Committee.
  • Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) will chair the Science Committee.
  • Congressman Bill Thomas (R-CA) will chair the Ways and Means Committee.
  • Freshman Congressman Todd Platts (R-PA) will serve on the Education and the Workforce Committee.
  • Freshman Congresswoman Melissa Hart (R-PA) will serve on the Science Committee.

In a surprise announcement, Rep. Bud Shuster (R-PA) said he will retire at the end of January, citing unspecified health problems as the reason for his decision. Shuster has served in the House since 1973, and has been chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the past six years. His House seat will have to be filled through a special election; no date was immediately set for this election. The seat is likely to stay in Republican hands.

Commonwealth Relations

Based on results of the November election, the Pennsylvania House and Senate remain controlled by the Republican Party. The House stands at 104 Republicans and 99 Democrats; the Senate stands at 28 Republicans and 20 Democrats with two open seats.

The 185th session of the Legislature began on January 2, 2001, as members of the House and Senate took the oath of office. Regular session of the General Assembly will commence on January 23. There are several key issues of importance to the University that the Legislature will consider this spring. First, it appears that there will be action on the distribution of the $11.2 billion in tobacco settlement monies. Of particular importance to Penn is the allocation process in two key areas--research and uncompensated care to the hospitals.

The Fiscal Year 2001-02 budget process will be initiated on February 6 when the Governor submits his budget recommendations to the Legislature. This will be followed by budget hearings in the House and Senate and then final consideration and approval of next fiscal year's budget by the end of June. Included in the state budget will be appropriations to colleges and universities, including Penn. Currently Penn is receiving $40.9 million in state support, including $34.8 million in funding to the Veterinary School. The University has requested an increase to $43.4 million for the next fiscal year.

Finally, the General Assembly will likely take up proposed legislation that would mandate that all colleges and universities in the Commonwealth install sprinklers in dormitories, fraternities and sororities. Recent proposals have included an appropriation that would fund low interest loans to assist institutions in meeting this mandate.

--Carol R. Scheman, Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 18, January 16, 2001