Recently released figures show that the University spent over $600,000 on lobbying in 2013, a 50 percent increase since 2010.
Penn Medicine, which is made up of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Perelman School of Medicine, lobbies separately from the University and spent a total of $265,000 to promote its interests in Congress last year.
The primary focus of the lobbying efforts has been to increase federal funding for research. Over 80 percent of the University’s $874 million in research grants came from the federal government in 2012.
Government sequestration — the series of automatic, across-the-board cuts to the federal budget that occurred in March — posed a significant threat to research funds that the University depends on. Penn projected losses of nearly $80 million dollars in research funding from the National Institutes of Health alone last year because of the sequester.
The Department of Health and Human Services was hard-hit by the sequester. Prior to 2013, HHS provided over half of the federal research money Penn received.
The sequester changed the emphasis of Penn Medicine’s lobbying efforts, but not their intensity, Penn Med’s Senior Vice President for External Affairs Susan Phillips said. The Office of Government and Community Affairs, which directs the University’s lobbying efforts, declined to comment for this article.
The $1.1 trillion federal budget that President Barack Obama signed into law on Jan. 17 restored nearly $1 billion to the NIH, which returns its funding to 2004 levels. As a part of HHS, the NIH was one of the agencies most deeply affected by the sequester.
In comparison to other schools in the Ivy League, Penn lobbies the most, even without counting lobbying money spent by the medical school or the health system.
Yale and Harvard universities spent the most on lobbying behind Penn, at $590,000 and $530,000, respectively, in 2013.
Princeton, Cornell, Columbia and Brown universities all spent a fraction of the top three Ivy lobbying spenders. Dartmouth College did not spend any money on lobbying in 2013, records show.
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