Appropriations Moving Full Steam Ahead
Both chambers of Congress have been making progress on their respective appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2019. Just this week, the first funding bills hit the House floor. The appropriations bills for military construction-Veterans Affairs, legislative branch, and energy and water were bundled together in a "minibus" as part of an effort to expedite passage.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced this week that he intends to shorten the August recess in order to get spending bills across the finish line and avert another year-end funding package.
Below is a chart outlining where bills presently stand.
Immigration Talks Stall; Ongoing Administration and Congressional Concerns About the PRC
On June 7, the House Republican Caucus held a meeting in an attempt to build consensus on a path forward for immigration legislation. The meeting concluded without any agreements being reached. If a compromise doesn't emerge, more Republicans are likely to sign onto a petition that would force a series of immigration votes on the House floor.
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration held a hearing on June 6 entitled "Student Visa Integrity: Protecting Educational Opportunity and National Security." The original title of the hearing was “A Thousand Talents: China’s Campaign to Infiltrate and Exploit U.S. Academia.” In advance of the hearing, our higher education associations — the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education, and the Council on Governmental Relations — issued a joint statement for the record.
During the hearing, Edward Ramotowski, deputy assistant secretary for Visa Services at the U.S. Department of State, confirmed recent reports by the Associated Press that the State Department issued guidance regarding visas issued to Chinese citizens. The guidance, which will be effective June 11, will involve additional screening and limit visas to one-year for Chinese graduate students working in certain STEM fields, such as robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing.
Susan Koch, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Springfield, was in DC this week for a variety of agency and Congressional meetings. She met with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Archives and Records Administration to discuss the new UIS Center for Lincoln Studies, which will grow into a national base for scholarship, teaching and public history about Lincoln’s life, his leadership, and his legacy. On Capitol Hill, she updated Representatives Cheri Bustos and Rodney Davis and Sen. Dick Durbin staff on campus initiatives and activities, while also communicating concerns about the PROSPER Act, a proposed Higher Education Act reauthorization bill in the House that would significantly cut federal support for student aid.
Additionally, she hosted a "Chat with the Chancellor" event that engaged DC-area alumni.
Several faculty members from Urbana's College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) were in DC to participate in an annual Agricultural Research Congressional Exhibition and Reception which showcases research funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Sarah Taylor Lovell, Anthony Yannarell, and Hannah Holscher represented ACES among the 36 exhibits from more than 20 universities, scientific professional societies and USDA agencies. Richard Vogen, director of planning for ACES, Gabe Price, a PhD student, and Elle Lucadamo, a MS student, also attended. As co-chair of the Congressional Agriculture Research Caucus and chair for the agriculture subcommittee which oversees research, Rep. Rodney Davis spoke at the event and highlighted ACES' strengths during his remarks. While on the Hill, the group met with legislators and staff from Illinois delegation offices.
Rep. Rodney Davis visited the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on June 4 to engage with our College of ACES on the topic of soybean and human nutrition research, and global food security issues. Rep. Davis was welcomed by Chancellor Robert Jones and ACES Dean Kim Kidwell, then visited a demonstration kitchen operated by the Soybean Innovation Lab, a Feed the Future Innovation Lab funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The lab is USAID's only comprehensive program dedicated to soybean research for development. The hands-on demo involved learning about complementary food sources. Afterward, Rep. Davis participated in a roundtable discussion with ACES faculty and the Kyle House Group on U.S. leadership in global agriculture.
Rep. Bill Foster attended a June 5 meeting of the Association of American Universities’ Council on Federal Relations. He spoke about the STRONGER Patents Act (legislation he has sponsored), the university technology transfer ecosystem, and federally funded university research more broadly.
OGR Federal Relations
Paul Weinberger and Melissa Haas