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In this edition, Senate appropriators move forward a historically contentious funding bill, Sen. Durbin stands up for DOD-funded medical research, and UIC introduces its new leaders in DC.

Senate Education Department/NIH Funding Bill Clears Preliminary Hurdles

The Senate appropriations committee advanced its Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, making it the 9th spending bill that the full committee has cleared for floor consideration. For the first time in seven years, the measure received bipartisan support. Key takeaways is that the bill:

  • Reinstates eligibility for year-round, or summer Pell Grants; increases the maximum Pell grant award from $5,815 to $5,935 for the 2017-18 school year
  • Provides level-funding for Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN), Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants  (SEOG), Federal Work Study, TRIO, and GEARUP
  • Provides a $2 billion increase to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including boosts for the Precision Medicine Initiative, Alzheimer's disease research, the BRAIN Initiative, and efforts to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria

The House version is expected to be marked up by the subcommittee in a couple of weeks.

Durbin Defends DOD-Sponsored Medical Research

During the Senate markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Sen. Dick Durbin stood up to ensure that the Department of Defense (DOD) could continue to fund medical research for service members, military families, and veterans. The original legislation contained two sections which included language that would have increased administrative requirements on the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), a biomedical research program housed at DOD. To drum up support for his amendment to strike these provisions, Sen. Durbin—who serves as Vice Chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee—led a "Research, Not Red Tape" tweetstorm. Sen. Durbin's amendment garnered the support of 37 Republican and Democratic cosponsors and was approved.

UIC Leadership Team Receives Warm Welcome

UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis was in DC this week to introduce new members of his leadership team to UIC alumni living in the DC-area. Chancellor Amiridis formally introduced Dr. Susan Poser, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Robert Barish, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, at a reception coordinated by UIC Advancement. University of Illinois Hospital CEO Avijit Ghosh, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategy Nicole Kazee, and College of Engineering Dean Peter Nelson also attended.

UI Health Leadership with Rep. Robin Kelly, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust 

VCHA Barish, Dr. Ghosh, and Dr. Kazee spent the following day on the Hill to meet with the Illinois Congressional delegation and advocate on behalf of the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System (UI Health), which includes the hospital, outpatient clinics, and Mile Square Health Centers as well as the seven UIC health sciences colleges and their regional campuses. The group informed Members about UI Health's recent initiatives to transform healthcare through innovative care models, such as telemedicine and providing supportive housing for chronically homeless patients who frequently visit our emergency department. They also discussed some of UI Health's federal priorities, including protecting Medicare payments to hospital outpatient departments, medical education and training, and the 340B Drug Pricing Program. The team met with Rep. Darin LaHood, Rep. Robin Kelly, Rep. Bob Dold, Rep. Cheri Bustos, and Rep. Peter Roskam, and the office of Reps. Danny Davis and Adam Kinzinger.

Dean Gallagher Promotes Wounded Veterans Center

In her role in overseeing the new Center for Wounded Veterans for Higher Education, Dr. Tanya Gallagher, Dean of Urbana's College of Applied Health Sciences, was in DC to inform Congressional offices and committees about the Center's programs and recent progress. She met with the offices of Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Rodney Davis, as well as the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. The Center, which was first announced in 2012, is now fully operational and serving 70 student veterans with a wide range of services.


Thank you,

Melissa Haas | Acting Director | OGR Federal Relations