Congress successfully beat the clock this week in wrapping up two more fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills and avoiding a partial government shutdown. Early Friday, President Trump signed into law legislation providing full-year funding for the military and the departments of Health and Human Services, Education, and Labor. The spending package contains a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, along with a $100 boost to the maximum Pell Grant award. It also contains a short-term spending bill that funds some federal agencies, such as the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, and Interior, until after the mid-term elections.
ACES Professor Shares Expertise on SNAP
Urbana Agricultural and Consumer Economics professor Craig Gundersen testified on September 26 at a joint subcommittee hearing of the House Oversight Committee on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The federal aid program offers nutritional assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families, and the hearing focused on ways to combat program fraud and more effectively assist states in the program's administration.
Gundersen is a leading expert in analyzing the causes and consequences of food insecurity and evaluating food assistance programs. During the hearing, he emphasized how SNAP has demonstrated significant success in reducing food insecurity, while conveying support for efforts to continue current investment in the tools that USDA and states need to reduce fraud and trafficking.
Prior to the hearing, Gundersen had a chance to speak with Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi.
Read his testimony here.
U of I Attends White House Summit on Quantum
There is strong bipartisan support and momentum building within Congress and the Trump administration to advance U.S. quantum research and technology. On September 24, Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation Ed Seidel and Urbana physics professor Brian DeMarco participated in a quantum summit at the White House which convened experts from academia, industry, and the federal government. Following the event, the Office of Science and Technology Policy released a National Strategic Overview for Quantum Information Science. Read another recap here from the Department of Physics/College of Engineering.
Urbana-Led Center Participates in Hurricane Resilience Showcase
David Nicol, director of the Information Trust Institute at Urbana, participated in an interactive technology demonstration on Capitol Hill on behalf of our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence, the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI). Nicol demonstrated CIRI’s Port Disruption Assessment tool, which assists with simulating and measuring the impacts of cascading cyber and physical disruptions at a typical maritime port to help decision-makers minimize economic impacts. The event was co-hosted by the Congressional Smart Cities Caucus and DHS to showcase how DHS is accelerating technology development to improve hurricane preparedness, response, and recovery operations for communities nationwide.
USAID LEADERSHIP VISITS URBANA FOR GRANT ANNOUNCEMENT
On September 24, Robert Bertram, the chief scientist for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), visited Urbana-Champaign in order to announce that USAID would be awarding $6 million to extend funding for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research (SIL). SIL, which was first funded by USAID in 2013, is the agency's only comprehensive program dedicated to soybean research for development, and principally focuses on sub-Saharan Africa.
Staff from the offices of Sen. Dick Durbin, Representatives Cheri Bustos, Rodney Davis, and John Shimkus attended the event. Read more in the press release, which contains quotes from our Illinois delegation members.
OGR Federal Relations
Paul Weinberger, Melissa Haas, and Emily Tuttle