Shutdown Ends, Default Prevented
After being closed for 16 days, the federal government has finally reopened, allowing hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees to return to work.
The final deal, which was brokered by Senate leaders, passed both chambers late Wednesday and was signed by the President. The short-term agreement funds the government through January 15, 2013 at the Fiscal Year 2013 (post-sequester) enacted level, extends the debt ceiling through February 7, 2014, and ensures that those who were furloughed receive back-pay. The agreement also included a mechanism for Congress to have a broader deficit-reduction conversation. It created a budget conference committee to sort out the stark differences between the House Republican budget and the Senate Democratic budget, which have a $91 billion funding gap. The committee has until December 13, 2013 to produce a compromise Fiscal Year 2014 budget resolution. Click here to see the House and Senate conferees (there are no members from the Illinois delegation).
The votes were 285 – 144 in the House and 81 – 18 in the Senate. All Members of the Illinois Congressional delegation voted in support of the package with the exception of Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14). He released a statement that same night explaining his vote.
Shutdown Damage Slows Government Restart
Although federal employees have regained access to their email accounts and federal websites are back up and running, it will take a few weeks for agencies to get a handle on their workload.
The shutdown has left the National Institutes of Health backlogged with a large volume of grant applications and peer-review meetings that need to be rescheduled. In a memo released by the Acting Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Cora Marrett, it was announced that review panels would not resume until November and that all advisory committee meetings would be cancelled through the end of December.
Sequestration Concerns Revived
Fresh budget talks have brought a renewed sense of energy among interest groups to undo the indiscriminate, across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. The next round of sequestration cuts are scheduled to occur in January.
The Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Science Coalition (TSC) have circulated a new “Sequestration Impact Survey Follow-up” for campuses to complete. The University of Illinois participated in the survey that was distributed last summer, and will be participating again to point out concrete examples of how sequestration is affecting our research enterprise.
Farm Bill Conference Committee Process Underway
Both chambers have now named confeeres to reconcile differences between the House and Senate farm bills. Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13), who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, was appointed as one of the conferees. This past Wednesday, the Chairmen and Ranking Members from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees met to talk about next steps. The full House-Senate conference committee is expected to meet the week of October 27.
Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas
OGR Federal Relations