University of Illinois President Tim Killeen and Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones started off 2017 in Washington, D.C., traveling to the nation's capital early last week to welcome new and returning members of Congress during Congressional swearing-in activities.
On one of the busiest days on Capitol Hill, they managed to sit down for one-on-one meetings with several Illinois members, including Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Rep. Rodney Davis, and Rep. Cheri Bustos, as well as with two alumni legislators—Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee ('83 UIUC, BALAS) and Rep. Larry Bucshon of Indiana (‘84 UIUC, BSLAS; ‘88 UIC, MD). During these meetings, they discussed items impacting the University's teaching and research enterprise, and how we could collaborate with them in this new Congress. They also were able to interact with Illinois Rep. Bill Foster and attend newly elected Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth's swearing-in ceremony.
During the visit, the U of I also hosted a small dinner for Illinois legislators and a select group of U of I alumni from the D.C. area. President Killeen, Chancellor Jones and the University's federal relations staff attended. This event was organized by the U of I and Illinois Connection, the University of Illinois Alumni Association's (UIAA) legislative advocacy network.
To cap off the visit, UIAA and the U of I hosted an informational meeting about the formation of a new advisory group of alumni working on Capitol Hill. Assistant Vice President of Alumni Advocacy Marissa Brewer and the University's federal relations staff ran the meeting. The alumni advisory group will provide a direct link among UIAA, U of I, and congressional staff who are U of I alumni. This group will provide input on the development and execution of federal advocacy initiatives, along with University legislative events and activities in the D.C. area.
IL Member Assignments for the 115th Congress
With the exception of House Democrats, most of the Congressional committee assignments have been announced. On the Senate side...
Sen. Dick Durbin will keep his same assignments — Appropriations, Judiciary, and Rules. He retained his leadership post as Minority Whip, the second highest ranking position among the Senate Democrats. He is expected to continue serving as the ranking member (top Democrat) of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, an important post for our research community.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth has been assigned to three committees — the Environment & Public Works Committee, the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee.
On the House side...
It's looking like our Energy & Commerce Committee representatives will remain the same — Reps. Adam Kinzinger and John Shimkus will serve as Illinois' Republicans on the committee. Rep. Shimkus will chair the Subcommittee on Environment, but it has not yet been determined whether Reps. Bobby Rush and Jan Schakowsky will continue to serve on the committee.
Also to be determined: Will Illinois still have four members on the House Science Committee? Last Congress, we had Reps. Bill Foster, Randy Hultgren, Darin LaHood and Dan Lipinski. Will we keep our one lone member on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Mike Quigley? Stay tuned!
Finally, Rep. Cheri Bustos will now have a new Democratic House Leadership post, as she was elected to serve as a co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
Confirmation Hearings Right Around the Corner
There are several committee hearings lined up for this week, in which Cabinet nominees will go before the relevant committees of jurisdiction in order to share their vision and respond to questions about how they will approach certain topics. Of note, Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, will be testifying on Wednesday. Elaine Chao, the President-elect's nominee for Secretary of Transportation, will also be on Capitol Hill that day to testify.
There have been many announcements these past few days regarding personnel in President-elect Trump's Administration. In particular, staff announcements were made for the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC), including Andrew Bremberg's appointment as DPC Director. Bremberg previously worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and more recently for Sen. Mitch McConnell. Click here to see the rest of the list.
The White House has released its Cabinet "exit memos," which reflect back on the past eight years, while also looking at future challenges and needs. These are memos from the heads of each federal department and agency. Click here to read the Department of Education's memo.
Sen. Dick Durbin held a press conference highlighting two Department of Energy grants under the CarbonSAFE R&D program that have been awarded to the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Prairie Research Institute (PRI). The grants —totaling $10 million — will fund projects to develop technologies to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
Before the holidays, Rep. Rodney Davis had some meetings with new Urbana-Champaign leaders. He met Chancellor Robert Jones for the first time, as well as with King Li, the new dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, in order to receive an update on the College. Rep. Davis also met the new dean of Urbana-Champaign's College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences—Kimberlee Kidwell. Farm bill reauthorization discussions are going to be gearing up early this year.
Melissa Haas | Acting Director | OGR Federal Relations