Washington Updates

Federal Update: Congress Approves Two-Year, $300 Billion Budget Increase

February 9, 2018

After Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY, AB’71, JD’74) unveiled a massive budget agreement on early Thursday, Congress moved quickly to continue government funding and pass this deal. There were objections to the deal from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) that led to a brief middle of the night shutdown but ultimately, the deal continuing funding and providing a $300 billion increase of discretionary funding for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 passed both houses with strong bipartisan votes of 71-28 and 240-186. The President signed the bill this morning.... Read more about Federal Update: Congress Approves Two-Year, $300 Billion Budget Increase

Federal Update: Congress Passes Tax Reform, Avoids Shutdown, will Adjourn for the Year

December 21, 2017

In its final week before adjourning for the year, Congress moved to clear the deck of some major outstanding issues, beginning with final passage of the tax reform bill (more information here) on Wednesday. With that package headed to the President’s desk for his signature, Congress turned its attention to funding the government ahead of the December 22 expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR). Unprepared to finalize spending for the year, lawmakers passed yet another short-term CR to provide stopgap funding at current spending levels through January 19.... Read more about Federal Update: Congress Passes Tax Reform, Avoids Shutdown, will Adjourn for the Year

Federal Update: Tax Bill Emerges from Conference: A Mixed Bag for Higher Education

December 16, 2017

Continuing at breakneck speed, conferees agreed Friday to a final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and released the language of the bill to the public late in the day. Final votes are expected in the House and Senate next week. After last minute jockeying by members, leadership has solidified Republican support for the bill and we do not anticipate further changes or roadblocks to its passage.... Read more about Federal Update: Tax Bill Emerges from Conference: A Mixed Bag for Higher Education

Federal Update: Senate Approves Tax Package while Partisan Fights Stoke Fears of December Shutdown

December 2, 2017

With the end of the year in sight, Capitol Hill is pushing forward in key areas. The list of legislative items in play with implications for the University are growing in urgency and in number, as tax reform efforts continue to advance, a major fiscal deadline looms, and lawmakers take the first steps on a long path toward reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Republicans are increasingly frustrated and worried with their lack of tangible legislative victories, particularly with the approaching midterm elections. We have seen that dynamic with the tax bill, which has moved quickly and with little appetite for careful examination of the details. On funding, politics and partisan gamesmanship are overshadowing serious negotiations over the top-line spending levels that are an essential first step in finalizing FY18 funding. Following is a more detailed overview of these recent activities in Washington and the outlook for the next several weeks.... Read more about Federal Update: Senate Approves Tax Package while Partisan Fights Stoke Fears of December Shutdown

Federal Update: Returning from Summer Recess, Congress Faces a Full Schedule

September 8, 2017

After a month-long recess, Congress returned this week to a challenging slate of must-do items, looming deadlines, emergency funding requests for hurricane aid, and the rescinding of the DACA program. As congressional leaders consider how to address such an extensive list, they must navigate between the White House’s shifting priorities, limited consensus in their own ranks and mainly united Democratic opposition. Further, their strategy will now have to be reconsidered, as the President struck a surprise deal with Democrats this week to package emergency hurricane aid with a temporary stopgap funding measure and short-term suspension of the debt limit.... Read more about Federal Update: Returning from Summer Recess, Congress Faces a Full Schedule

Federal Update: President Trump Releases Full FY18 Budget Request

May 23, 2017

Following up on March’s FY18 “skinny budget,” the Administration released the full FY18 presidential budget request today (full budget available here), titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness.”  The full budget provides the details missing from the March outline (first reported here), but the overall themes are consistent: deep, fundamental cuts to many government agencies and programs, including research and education, and large increases for national and border security accounts.  On the top line, the budget proposal claims it would reduce the deficit $5.6 trillion over a decade, assuming significant economic growth.  The plan would cut $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years in non-Defense discretionary spending and would save a total of $3.6 trillion, in large part from cuts to mandatory funding of social safety nets like Medicaid, SNAP, Children’s Health Insurance, and Social Security Disability Insurance, hitting these low-income assistance programs particularly hard.  The budget also proposes lifting the sequester cap in 2018 for Defense spending by $54 billion and lowering the non-Defense cap by a similar amount – an adjustment that would require a change in current law.... Read more about Federal Update: President Trump Releases Full FY18 Budget Request

Federal Update: Fiscal Year 2017 Funding

May 1, 2017

After months of delay, Congress will move forward this week on a final Fiscal Year 2017 funding measure. Congressional leadership and appropriators announced a deal late last night that sidesteps major partisan differences and provides strong funding, including a $2 billion increase for NIH.  It is expected the House will take up the measure toward the middle of the week with Senate action following and White House approval before the May 5 expiration of current stopgap funding.... Read more about Federal Update: Fiscal Year 2017 Funding

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.... Read more about Federal Update: Congress Tees Up Busy April

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

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.... Read more about Federal Update: Lame Duck Heads toward Second CR; House Passes Cures Bill

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.... Read more about Federal Update: President Obama Releases FY17 Budget Request

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