Washington Updates

Federal Update: Congress Tees Up Busy April

March 30, 2017

Following last week’s abrupt withdrawal of the GOP healthcare bill, Congressional Republicans huddled this week to regroup and refocus on the agenda ahead. In the near term, the Senate will turn its focus next week to the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch (JD’91) to the Supreme Court hoping to secure a visible win for the Trump administration and the Republican Congress. Congress will also be focused on finalizing FY17 appropriations before current funding expires on April 28.

Federal Update: Trump Administration FY18 "America First" Spending Outline Proposes Deep Cuts, Fundamental Changes

March 16, 2017

While the higher education community has harbored concerns about how the new Administration’s expressed priorities of aggressive budget reductions coupled with significant increases to Defense department spending might impact programs essential to research universities, there had thus far been few specifics.  However, today, the Trump Administration released the outline, or ”skinny budget,” of its FY18 spending plan (available here). In this high level outline, the Administration validates many of these concerns by including unprecedented cuts to research, steep reductions in student aid, and the elimination of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. The values expressed in the “skinny budget” sent a strong message that the higher education community and those who rely on this essential federal partnership will need to work diligently to build upon the strong existing bipartisan support on the Hill and continue to work with the Administration in the hopes that, as the process unfolds, there will ultimately be significant alterations in the policies outlined this morning.

Federal Update: Lame Duck Heads toward Second CR; House Passes Cures Bill

December 1, 2016

The lame-duck session of the 114th Congress resumed its work this week after the Thanksgiving holiday, notably on two main issues of University interest—the House’s passage of the 21st Century Cures bill to authorize future supplemental funding for NIH, and the funding of the government beyond the current December 9 expiration. 

Federal Update: President Obama Releases FY17 Budget Request

February 9, 2016

The broad strokes of the President’s State of the Union address received their fine print today with the release of the White House’s fiscal year 2017 budget request. The Obama Administration’s last budget comes with the freedom from the political pressures of reelection to propose aspirational policies and the opportunity to steer the national discourse in a presidential election year, but it does not come with the time to accomplish much of significance. Illustrating the true depths of Congressional Republicans’ hostility to the President’s proposals and the mechanisms used to fund them, neither Senate Budget Chairman Enzi (R-WY) nor House Budget Chairman Price (R-GA) invited OMB Director Shaun Donovan to testify on the Hill—a government tradition since 1975.

Federal Update: President Obama Delivers His Last State of the Union Address

January 13, 2016

Last night, President Barack Obama delivered his last State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Traditionally, the State of the Union provides the President with a primetime, national audience to present his legislative agenda and tout recent accomplishments. However, this being President Obama’s final address, and with the speech marketed as a “non-traditional” State of the Union, the President offered a closing argument for his time in office and a prologue to “The future we want…”

Federal Update: Congress Wraps-up for the Year Completing Action on FY16 Funding and Tax Bills

December 18, 2015

Winning approval in the House and Senate, a combined package of fiscal year 2016 appropriations and tax extenders is headed to the President for his signature in the coming days. As previously reported here, this legislation includes significant progress on University priorities from the largest NIH funding increase in more than a decade to the permanent extension of IRA Charitable Rollover.  

Federal Update: Congress Heads into Home Stretch with Release of FY16 Funding and Tax Bills

December 16, 2015

After weeks of intense private negotiations, Congressional leaders late last night released two major bills – an omnibus FY16 funding bill and a tax bill.  Significant progress is made on several of the University’s priorities, including a nearly 7 percent boost in funding for NIH and enactment of the IRA Charitable Rollover to encourage additional charitable gifts.  Although everyone, including most members, are still learning the details of these bills, it is expected the House will consider and pass these measures on Thursday (for the tax bill) and Friday (for the spending bill), followed by Senate action late in the week or over the weekend.  Because the current continuing resolution funding the government expires later today, Congress will quickly pass another CR through December 22 to ensure that there is no lapse in government funding and to provide adequate time to approve the final bills.

Federal Update: Two-Year Bipartisan Budget Agreement Relieves Sequester, Avoids Default

October 27, 2015

With two important fiscal deadlines looming, Congressional leaders and the Administration unveiled a bipartisan budget agreement that would provide two-years of relief from the constraints of sequestration as imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, suspend the risk of default, and pave the way to avoid a government shutdown.