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Congress has officially adjourned for its seven-week summer recess. Before heading back to their districts, lawmakers wrapped things up with some appropriations work and other legislative matters. Aside from appropriations, Congress tackled a few items relevant to institutions of higher education. For instance, the full House advanced piecemeal bills we previously reported on to reauthorize aspects of the Higher Education Act. Congress also sent a bipartisan bill to address global food security to the president's desk, a bill which recognizes the important role that universities play. And finally, the Senate education committee held a roundtable on campus safety that specifically focused on improving prevention and response efforts to hazing and bullying.

 
LEGISLATIVE OUTLOOK
 
Appropriations: It's The Final Countdown
 

Although the House and Senate appropriations committees were successful in clearing all twelve of their annual funding bills for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations cycle, only four were approved on the House floor and three on the Senate floor. None have been sent to the president's desk. Despite the fact that these individual bills won't be enacted into law, they set the stage for a future spending package.

Both chambers will return to DC on September 6, which will give legislators only four weeks to agree on a measure to fund the federal government beyond September 30. That is likely to be in the form of a "Continuing Resolution (CR)"—a short-term funding bill. What remains to be seen is how long that stopgap funding will last—until Congress returns for a lame-duck session in November, or until March, when the new Administration has settled in.

 
Presidential Nominee Clinton Reveals Higher Ed Plans
 

Presumed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton recently released several announcements relating to her commitment to a "debt-free future for America's graduates." If elected, she intends to take action to provide three-month moratorium on student loan payments to all federal loan borrowers. She also plans to ensure that families with income up to $125,000 will pay no tuition at in-state public colleges and universities. Many Democrats are echoing Clinton, as reported by Inside Higher Education.

 
Lipinski Spearheads Research Reg Reform Bill
 

Illinois Reps. Dan Lipinski and Randy Hultgren, along with Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, recently introduced legislation to address excessive federal research regulations on universities. The "University Regulation Streamlining and Harmonization Act" incorporates recommendations from the National Academy of Science report, Optimizing the Nation's Investment in Academic Research. Among other reforms, it would eliminate the duplicative auditing of research grants, establish a central online database for researchers' grant application information, and create a Research Policy Board to advise the Office of Management and Budget on how to make proposed and existing federal regulations, policies, and guidance more efficient and less burdensome.

Rep. Lipinski worked with the scientific community in drafting the legislation, which has the support of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR). We appreciate his leadership.

 
U OF I CANCER CENTER HOLDS CANCER MOONSHOT SUMMIT
 
 
 

In conjunction with a national day of action organized by the White House involving over 270 events across the country, the University of Illinois Cancer Center hosted a Cancer Moonshot Summit on the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) campus. The summit explored a variety of topics, including advancing research discoveries, enhancing care and access, and strengthening preventing and diagnosis. There were over 50 patients, caregivers, researchers, clinicians, care providers, and students who attended.

At the National Cancer Moonshot Summit that was held that day in DC, Vice President Joe Biden announced several new public and private sector actions to support the initiative, including the establishment of an Oncology Center of Excellence by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a DOE-VA collaboration to harness big data to improve veterans' health.

 
DC VISITORS
 
IGPA Hosts Another Successful Douglas Award Ceremony
 
 
 Left to right: U of I VPAA Christophe Pierre, James Bandler (grandson of Sen. Douglas), Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, U of I President Tim Killeen, IGPA Assistant Director Jim Paul
 

Each year, the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) and Sen. Dick Durbin co-host a ceremony in Washington, DC, to honor a distinguished elected or career government official who has exhibited high standards of public service and integrity. This year's selection committee decided to honor Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) with the Paul H. Douglas Ethics in Government Award. Sen. Mikulski has many accomplishments, along with several "firsts"—she was the first Democratic woman to be elected to the Senate in her own right, the first Democratic woman to serve in both houses of Congress, and the first woman Senator to chair the Appropriations Committee. She is also the longest serving woman in the history of the U.S. Congress. 

U of I President Tim Killeen and Vice President for Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre spoke at the ceremony, which was attended by more than 130 DC-area alumni, Congressional staff, members of the Douglas family, and former Douglas staff. Congrats to IGPA on yet another great event!

 
GOOD NEWS
 

UIC is part of a consortium recently selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to coordinate the enrollment of at least 150,000 Illinois residents in the national Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program. The goal of the PMI Cohort Program is to extend precision medicine (individualized treatment/care based on genes, environment, and lifestyle) to all diseases by creating a national research group of a million or more volunteer participants. The Illinois consortium—which will be led by Northwestern University and also includes the University of Chicago—will receive an initial $4.3 million in Fiscal Year 2016 to build foundational partnerships and infrastructure to launch the PMI Cohort Program. Depending on progress reviews and availability of funds, the consortium can receive a total of $45 million over five years.

 

Thank you,

Melissa Haas | Acting Director | OGR Federal Relations