Advocacy Priorities

U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) (right) getting an inside look into the Pathfinder program partnership at Vanderbilt

The federal government and Vanderbilt University have a long history of partnering to foster advancements in education and research. This collaboration takes various forms, including financial support for our students – through programs like the Federal Pell Grant or campus-based student aid programs – and through research funding support in science, engineering, social science, and the humanities. More than funding, the federal government also sets policy that impacts the university’s ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest students and conduct world-class research.


Federal Support at Vanderbilt

Federal Relations
Federal Relations

Advocacy

View letters and statements from Vanderbilt and associations and coalitions to which Vanderbilt belongs on federal advocacy priorities.

  • 2024 Letters and Statements
    • Funding for the NIH: Letter from United for Medical Research urging Senate leaders to fund the NIH in FY 2024 at $47.7 billion. (February 6, 2024) View Letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the NIH: Letter from United for Medical Research urging House leaders to fund the NIH in FY 2024 at $47.7 billion. (February 6, 2024) View Letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Institute of Education Sciences: Letter from the Friends of IES urging Congress to fund IES in FY 2024 at the highest possible amount. (February 5, 2024) View Letter (PDF)
    • Funding for DOE Office of Science: Letter from the Energy Sciences Coalition urging Congress to appropriate $8.4 billion in FY 24 for the DOE Office of Science. (January 8, 2024) View Letter (PDF)
  • 2023 Letters and Statements
    • Funding for National Science Foundation: Letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding urging the Administration to request $16.7 billion for NSF in FY 2025. (November 3, 2023) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for DOE Office of Science: Letter from the Energy Sciences Coalition urging the Administration to request no less than $9.5 billion for the DOE Office of Science in the FY 2025 budget request to Congress. (November 7, 2023) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for DOE Office of Science: Statement from the Energy Sciences Coalition urging the House and Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittees and the House Science and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committees to increase discretionary funding allocations and appropriate at least $8.8 billion in FY 2024 for DOE Office of Science, consistent with the FY 2024 President’s budget request and the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act. (July 25, 2023) View statement (PDF)
    • Funding for National Science Foundation: Letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding to the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies signed by Vanderbilt University in support of funding the National Science Foundation at the highest possible amount building on FY23 funding levels. (June 15, 2023) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for National Science Foundation: Letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies signed by Vanderbilt University in support of funding the National Science Foundation at the highest possible amount building on FY23 funding levels. (June 15, 2023) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for National Science Foundation: Letter from a coalition of universities to the House and Senate Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittees signed by Vanderbilt University in support of $11.9 billion for the National Science Foundation in FY2024. (April 17, 2023) View letter (PDF)
    • Vanderbilt’s Programmatic Funding Priorities for FY2024: Letter from the Office of Federal Relations to Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), our Senate appropriator, outlining the university’s programmatic funding priorities for FY 24. (March 15, 2023) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Institute of Education Sciences: Letter from the Friends of IES encouraging Congress to provide at least $900 million for IES in the FY 24 Labor, Health & Human Services, Education, & Related Agencies appropriations bill. (March 15, 2023) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for National Science Foundation: Letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding urging Congress to appropriate at least $11.9 billion for the National Science Foundation in FY 24. (March 15, 2023) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for National Institutes of Health: Letter from the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders recommending at least $50.924 billion for NIH’s foundational work in FY 24. (March 14, 2023) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for DOE Office of Science: Letter from the Energy Sciences Coalition urging Congress to appropriate $9.5 billion in FY 24 for DOE Office of Science, as authorized under section 10112 of the CHIPS and Science Act (Public Law 117-167). (March 14, 2023) View Letter (PDF)
  • 2022 Letters and Statements
    • Funding for NASA: Letter from the Coalition for Aerospace and Science requesting topline funding for NASA at no less than $25.97 billion and the Senate's proposed levels for the Agency's directorates. (December 13, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Institutes of Health: Letter from United for Medical Research to House and Senate leaders urging passage of an FY 23 omnibus appropriations bill that includes a $2.5 billion increase for NIH. (December 8, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Institute of Education Sciences: Letter from the Friends of Institute of Education Sciences asking congressional appropriators to include $844.1 million for IES as part of a final FY 23 appropriations agreement. (November 15, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Institute of Education Sciences: Letter from the Friends of Institute of Education Sciences to Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young outlining two recommendations to support IES in FY 24. (November 15, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Institutes of Health: Letter from the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders urging swift passage of a final FY 23 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill including at least $47.5 billion for the NIH base budget as well as urging members to avoid another continuing resolution and to pass the final FY 23 spending bills by the end of the calendar year. (November 8, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Science Foundation: Letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding to the leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees urging them to complete FY 23 appropriations before the end of the year and to fund NSF at the highest level possible, which is $11.9 billion as authorized in the recently passed bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act. (October 27, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Science Foundation: Letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding to Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar asking them to ensure that the administration requests $15.65 billion in NSF research and education investments in FY 24 as authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act. (October 27, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Defense Basic Research: Letter from the Coalition for National Security Research to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III requesting the department seek to fund the defense S&T program equal to 3 percent of the overall DOD budget and ensure defense basic research is funded at 20 percent of the defense S&T budget for FY 24. (October 6, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for DOE Office of Science: Statement from the Energy Sciences Coalition to the Appropriations Committees recommending at least $8.1 billion for the DOE Office of Science for FY 23. (September 28, 2022) View statement (PDF)
    • Funding for DOE Office of Science: Statement from the Energy Sciences Coalition to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Office of Management and Budget recommending $9.5 billion for the DOE Office of Science in FY 24, matching the FY 24 authorized funding level in the CHIPS and Science Act. (August 11, 2022) View statement (PDF)
    • Funding for DOE Office of Science: Letter from the Energy Sciences Coalition thanking Congress for its strong, bipartisan support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science in FY 22, and urging Congress to appropriate at least $8.8 billion in FY 23 for the DOE Office of Science, an increase of 18 percent above FY 22 and consistent with the bipartisan House and Senate DOE Science for the Future Act. (June 14, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for NASA: Letter from the Coalition for Aerospace and Science (CAS) to the leadership of the House and Senate Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations requesting Congress appropriate at least $27.84 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for FY 23. (May 18, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Institutes of Health: Statement from the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research to lawmakers recommending a program level of at least $49.048 billion for the NIH base budget for FY 23, and strongly urges lawmakers to ensure that any funding for the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health supplements the $49 billion recommendation for NIH's base budget, rather than supplant the essential foundational investment in the NIH. (May 10, 2022) View statement (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Science Foundation: Letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding to the Senate and House Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations recommending at least $11 billion for the National Science Foundation in FY 23. (April 7, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Institute of Education Sciences: Letter from Friends of IES, a coalition of organizations committed to supporting the essential role of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies, requesting at least $815 million for IES in FY 23. (April 7, 2022) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for DOE Office of Science: Statement from the Energy Sciences Coalition thanking Congress for its strong support of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science in FY 22, and urging Congress to appropriate at least $8.8 billion in FY 23. (March 28, 2022) View statement (PDF)
    • Funding for Pell: Letter from more than 65 leaders of Tennessee’s colleges and universities to the Tennessee congressional delegation urging them to make an affordable, high-quality college education more attainable for students by doubling the maximum Pell Grant award and permanently indexing the grant to inflation to ensure that its value will no longer diminish over time. (January 25, 2022) View letter (PDF)
  • 2021 Letters and Statements
    • Funding for the National Institutes of Health: Letter from United for Medical Research to Senate leadership urging Congress to go beyond the continuing resolution for FY 22 appropriations and ensure NIH remains on a strong and sustainable funding path. (December 6, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Institutes of Health: Letter from United for Medical Research to House leadership urging Congress to go beyond the continuing resolution for FY 22 appropriations and ensure NIH remains on a strong and sustainable funding path. (December 6, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Institute of Education Sciences: Letter from the Friends of IES to the House and Senate appropriators urging them to include $814 million for IES as part of a final appropriations agreement for FY 22. (November 16, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Institutes of Health: Letter from the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research to House and Senate Committees on Appropriations urging appropriators to provide at least $46.4 billion for NIH’s base for FY 22, as included in the House-passed bill. (November 15, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Office of Science and Technology Policy: Letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding to the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy submitting R&D policy recommendations for FY 23. (November 5, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Science Foundation: Letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding to the House and Senate appropriators urging them to approve at least $9.634 billion, as would be provided to NSF in the House FY 22 Commerce, Justice, Science bill. (November 2, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Protecting scholars in Afghanistan: Letter from the Scholars at Risk Network, an international network of over 500 other higher education institutions in 40 countries whose core mission is to protect threatened scholars and intellectuals, to the United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken requesting immediate action to save Afghanistan's scholars, students, practitioners, civil society leaders and activists, especially women and ethnic and religious minorities. (August 18, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Institute of Education Sciences: Letter from Friends of IES, a coalition of organizations committed to supporting the essential role of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies, strongly endorsing the top line amount of $737.47 million included in the president's budget for IES in FY 22. (June 17, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Institutes of Health: Letter from United for Medical Research to the House and Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittees on Appropriations, urging Congress to provide an increase of at least $3.2 billion for the National Institutes of Health for the base budget in FY 22. (May 18, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for DOE Office of Science: Statement from the Energy Sciences Coalition thanking Congress for its strong support of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science in FY 21, and urging Congress to appropriate at least $7.7 billion in FY 22. (April 23, 2021) View statement (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Science Foundation: Letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding to the House and Senate Subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations recommending at least $10 billion for the National Science Foundation in FY 22. (April 19, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Pell: Letter from nearly 1,200 organizations, including nearly 900 colleges and universities, urging Members of Congress to bring affordable, high-quality college education within reach for all students by doubling the maximum Pell Grant. (March 25, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for Institute of Education Sciences: Letter from Friends of IES, a coalition of organizations committed to supporting the essential role of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies, requesting at least $700 million for IES in FY 22. (March 23, 2021) View letter (PDF)
    • Funding for the National Institutes of Health: Statement from the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, which represents patient groups, scientific societies, research institutions, health professionals, educators, and industry, recommending at least $46.111 billion for the National Institutes of Health for FY 22. View statement (PDF)

Lobbying Disclosure

As an institution that employs registered federal lobbyists to advance and safeguard its considerable interests in the nation’s capital, Vanderbilt University is required to file quarterly disclosure reports with the House and Senate detailing lobbying activities and associated expenses. We are also subject to sweeping rules severely restricting gifts and meals for covered Executive Branch officials, Members of Congress, and congressional staff. There are substantial civil and criminal penalties for violations of these ethics rules and failing to file lobbying reports in a timely and accurate manner. These restrictions apply to all Vanderbilt University employees, faculty, and staff and we ask for your continued cooperation with the following internal guidelines, which are designed to reduce the possibility of inadvertently violating the rules. These guidelines are based on analysis prepared by the American Council on Education.

We appreciate your assistance in distributing this memorandum and the accompanying form to faculty and staff as appropriate.

  • Disclosure

    While the majority of the lobbying activity in which Vanderbilt University engages is conducted by the Office of Federal Relations in Washington, DC, Vanderbilt has historically encouraged faculty and staff to communicate with our representatives on Capitol Hill and in Executive Branch agencies on issues of particular concern to them and the university – sometimes individually, but often through their professional organizations. This communication could be in person, over the phone/virtually, or in writing.

    We are not seeking to end this practice – indeed, Members of Congress and their staff are keenly interested in meeting with Vanderbilt experts on a range of issues, from financial aid to research priorities. Furthermore, our Federal Relations staff relies on our campus experts to illustrate and explain our federal priorities. Our faculty and administrators have tremendous credibility and are consistently Vanderbilt’s best representatives in meetings with federal policymakers.

    However, considering the ethics rules, lobbying activity by any Vanderbilt University employee on behalf of the university or using university resources (including time, computers, email addresses, etc.) must be documented and reported. [i] Lobbying activities [ii] generally include a communication with a covered official asking for specific action. Communications can be oral or written and include in-person or virtual meetings, telephone calls, letters, and emails. Covered officials include covered Executive Branch officials, [iii] Members of Congress, or congressional staff; program officers and managers are generally not covered officials. A specific action could include asking for federal funding, requesting specific legislative action, or attempting to influence the position of a federal official on an issue pending before Congress or the Executive Branch.

    Faculty and staff are asked to report lobbying activities by completing the following Lobbying Disclosure Form and returning it to Alex Shea in the Division of Government and Community Relations by the following deadlines, so that it can be included in the university’s quarterly lobbying disclosure reports:

    • April 10th – for lobbying activities that take place between January 1 and March 31
    • July 10th – for lobbying activities that take place between April 1 and June 30
    • October 10th – for lobbying activities that take place between July 1 and September 30
    • January 10th – for lobbying activities that take place between October 1 and December 31

    The form is intended to capture the following information:

    • the date of all such meetings or communications;
    • who the meeting or communication was with;
    • the subject discussed (e.g., “funding of Alpha Project research” or “amending the immigration bill to promote access by foreign students” or “increasing the budget of the National Endowment for the Humanities”);
    • the approximate length of time of each meeting; and
    • the costs associated with each meeting, including travel costs to Washington, DC (or a pro rata share of those costs when the travel involves other, non-lobbying activities), if appropriate, and a portion of salary and benefits.

    In addition, university faculty and staff are encouraged to notify the Office of Federal Relations before, if possible, they engage in federal lobbying activities on behalf of the university. Federal Relations staff are happy to help arrange meetings and provide guidance on the most effective way to communicate a message to federal lawmakers or their staff.

    [i] Required reporting does not include lobbying activities by students.
    [ii] For additional information, please refer to the “lobbying activities” definition found in [2 U.S.C. Sec. 1602] of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 [P.L. 110-81, 2 U.S.C. Sec. 1601 et seq.].
    [iii] “Covered Executive Branch official” includes: the President, the Vice President, Officers and employees of the Executive Office of the President, any official serving in an Executive Level I through V position, any member of the uniformed services serving at grade O-7 or above, and any Schedule C (political) employees. It does not typically include program managers or officers.

    Vanderbilt University conducts its advocacy activities in a very transparent and professional manner; considering the ethics rules, it is essential that we carefully and fully report all such activities by the university and its employees to the House and Senate.

  • Congressional Rules Related to Gifts, Meals, and Travel
    1. Vanderbilt University, and individuals employed by the university and acting on our behalf, cannot provide gifts to Members of Congress and their staff with a value in excess of $10. This eliminates virtually any souvenir that might be offered at a meeting, conference, or special event, such as a t-shirt, hat, or coffee mug. Please check with the Office of Federal Relations if you have any questions.
    2. Vanderbilt University cannot pay for any meal, food, or drink with a Member of Congress or their staff. While there are certain prescribed exceptions, please check with the Office of Federal Relations in advance of extending an invitation so we can ensure that the meal is not otherwise prohibited.
    3. Vanderbilt University can invite Members of Congress and their staff to certain public events at which food is served, and for which the Member's or staff's presence could be considered directly related to their official duties. Please alert the Office of Federal Relations before such invitations are extended so we can verify that the event is not prohibited and can coordinate the many requests that Vanderbilt makes of our Congressional delegation and other Members of Congress.
    4. Vanderbilt University cannot provide Members of Congress or their staff with complimentary tickets to sporting events, concerts, or other activities for which an admission fee is charged. All Members and their staff must pay the face value of the ticket. We ask that any requests for tickets from Members of Congress or their staff, or invitations to attend a game or performance, be directed to the Office of Federal Relations for response.
    5. Finally, there are complex rules concerning sponsorship of travel (transportation and lodging) involving Members of Congress and their staff. Vanderbilt University typically does not sponsor congressional travel, but it is an area of great sensitivity with significant advance warning necessary for paperwork and approval. All requests for travel sponsorship involving Members of Congress or their staff should be handled through the Office of Federal Relations to ensure compliance with these ethics rules.

     
    Thank you for your assistance in ensuring Vanderbilt complies with these rules. Please feel free to distribute this message to your colleagues as needed.

  • Questions? Contact:

    Christina West
    Associate Vice Chancellor for Federal Relations
    christina.west@vanderbilt.edu
    202-216-4370

    Alex Shea
    Director of Business Operations, Division of Government and Community Relations
    alex.shea@vanderbilt.edu
    202-216-4373