Members of Congress returned to Washington this week to kick off the post-election lame-duck session. This edition provides some updates and key takeaways surrounding the 115th Congress, while providing a glimpse at the new Illinois Congressional delegation.
ELECTION AFTERMATH—WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Republicans retained their majority in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, but what will those chambers look like, come January?
- U.S. Senate: In the 115th Congress, the Senate will be comprised of at least 51 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and two Independents (who caucus with Democrats) (Note: There will be a December runoff in Louisiana). Senate Democrats have already selected their leadership. With Minority Leader Harry Reid's retirement, there are some changes. Sen. Charles Schumer will be the new Minority Leader and Dick Durbin will continue serving as Minority Whip. Committee ranking members (top Democrats) were also selected. Sen. Patty Murray will remain the ranking member on the Senate education committee, and Sen. Patrick Leahy will become the ranking member on the appropriations committee (Sen. Barbara Mikulski is retiring). On the Republican side, Mitch McConnell is expected to remain Majority Leader and John Cornyn is expected to remain Majority Whip.
- U.S. House of Representatives: The House will be comprised of at least 238 Republicans and 193 Democrats. Leadership is expected to largely remain the same, both for the majority and the minority (Speaker: Paul Ryan—who has already been nominated by the House Republican Conference, Majority Leader: Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip: Steve Scalise, Minority Leader: Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip: Steny Hoyer). Steering committees have started discussions to select committee leadership, but subcommittee chairs and members won't be confirmed until January.
IL Congressional Delegation
The Illinois delegation will have a larger Democratic majority, with 13 Democrats and 7 Republicans. What will it look like?
- U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-08)—a second-term Congresswoman from Hoffman Estates—will replace U.S. Senator Mark Kirk. Kirk had several posts important to U of I—he was Illinois’ lone member serving on an education committee, and in addition to serving on the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation, he chaired the appropriations subcommittee for military construction and veterans affairs. In the House, Duckworth served on three committees—Armed Services, Oversight and Government Reform, and the Select Committee on Benghazi.
- We will have one brand new “face”—Raja Krishnamoorthi—an Indian-American small businessman who will take Duckworth's 8th Congressional district seat in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Krishnamoorthi previously served as Deputy Treasurer of Illinois and issues director for Barack Obama.
- Former U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider will assume the 10th Congressional district seat—which includes parts of Cook and Lake counties—from U.S. Rep. Bob Dold. Dold served on the Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over all tax matters, as well as Medicaid and Medicare—funding streams vital to UIC’s and UI Health's public health missions. When Rep. Schneider was in Congress, he served on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
- U.S. Rep. John Shimkus is making a bid for Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which has the broadest jurisdiction of any congressional authorizing committee.
FY2017 Appropriations and Beyond
Although most of the current focus is on leadership elections, an important to-do item remains—determining Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations, since the existing stopgap spending measure expires on December 9. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers announced yesterday that he was going to begin "working immediately on a Continuing Resolution (CR) at the current rate of funding to extend the operations of our government through March 31, 2017." Our higher ed associations continue to push for Congress to pass an omnibus spending package, so that proposed funding increases for research and higher education can be enacted.
Under a new Administration, the President's budget request is typically delayed. We likely won't see a budget submitted until early April, whereas submission is traditionally in February. This will inevitably set back the timeline for the FY2018 appropriations process.
Danny Davis, Durbin Honored at UI Health Mile Square Health Center Ceremony
As part of a 50th anniversary celebration for the UI Health Mile Square Health Center, several Illinois legislators were honored during a Community Health Excellence Awards ceremony. U.S. Rep. Danny Davis received the Chancellor's Medallion for his service and leadership in improving the global community. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin received the “Danny K. Davis Pathfinder Award,” which is meant to recognize elected officials for their leadership and commitment to ensuring quality care for people in need. Sen. Durbin is the first recipient of the new award, which recognizes Rep. Davis' longstanding support of Mile Square.
In a report that was released today by the White House on advancing diversity and inclusion in higher education, several initiatives out of both our Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses were highlighted. Specifically:
- UIC: The report mentioned UIC's Cluster Initiative to Increase Diversity and the Interdisciplinary Culture as well as the impact of UIC's commitment on enrollment/graduation rates: “At University of Illinois at Chicago, black and Hispanic enrollment increased from 26 to 34 percent between 2001 and 2014. Graduation rates for black students increased from 27 to 43 percent, and for Hispanic students from 38 to 56 percent. Non-white, full-time faculty now comprises 30 percent of the faculty, a noticeably higher percentage than at most universities.”
Melissa Haas | Acting Director | OGR Federal Relations