In a series of meetings Tuesday on Capitol Hill, University President Drew G. Faust will urge members of the so-called Congressional supercommittee to avoid cuts to federal funding for student aid and research as part of efforts to reduce the overall national debt.
Along with Stanford University President John L. Hennessy, Faust will meet with Democratic Congressmen Xavier Becerra of California, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Faust also has tentative plans to meet with Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, according to Kevin Casey, Harvard’s senior director of federal and state relations.
The super committee is a body of 12 senators and House representatives tasked with shaving at least $1.5 trillion from the national debt over the next ten years.
Harvard receives approximately $600 million per year from the federal government, largely in the form of grants. With funds disbursed to Harvard's teaching hospitals included, annual federal support for the University totals roughly $1.2 billion.
After the 2008 financial crisis dealt a serious blow to Harvard's endowment—which plunged by nearly 30 percent from $36.9 billion to $26 billion—Harvard has increasingly looked to the federal government to help fund science research and student aid.
But this funding is now in jeopardy as a politically divided Congress has become increasingly determined to reduce deficit spending.
Over past year, Faust has made many similar trips to Washington, D.C. for meetings with high-ranking politicians to advocate for research and student aid funding.
"At a moment when important decisions are being considered that will have impacts for years to come, President Faust is meeting with supercommittee members and others to make the case for the critical role universities and industry jointly play in creating an American culture of innovation that should be a featured component of any long term national strategy," Casey wrote in an emailed statement.
The committee, which consists of six Democrats and six Republicans, was created by the debt limit deal passed in early August. The deal cut spending by $2.1 trillion over ten years and allowed for an immediate increase in the nation's debt ceiling.
After fiery debates between Democrats and Republicans in Congress, the deal was enacted just a day before the August 3 deadline on which the United States was projected to begin to default on its sovereign debt.
The super committee must present its proposal for deficit reduction by Nov. 23. The proposal will then be voted on by Congress by Dec. 23. If the bipartisan committee deadlocks and is unable to produce a proposal, then automatic spending cuts totaling $1.2 trillion will take effect.
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