With the Senate in recess and the House only in session on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was a shorter and quieter week on Capitol Hill. The major legislation up for consideration on the House floor was H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), a water infrastructure bill cosponsored by Representatives Rodney Davis and Dan Lipinski. It passed almost unanimously (417-3) and has gained the support of the President, with some caveats. This is refreshing news after weeks of hyperpartisanship around the government shutdown. The Senate approved its own version of the water resources legislation this past May. Despite a $4 billion funding difference, it is likely that this will cross the finish line after going through the conference committee process.
In a recent blog post featured on the Office of the Vice President for Research's website, we discussed renewed optimism around sequestration in light of the current budget negotiations. Click here to read more.
Immigration Reform Outlook Still Hazy
Only 19 legislative days remain in the House this year, and the timetable to pass comprehensive immigration reform is fading fast. The fervor among outside groups and the Administration is mounting, and President Obama recently proclaimed immigration reform as one of his top three legislative priorities to fulfill before the end of 2013. The Senate passed a comprehensive bill in June, but the House has still not acted. Speaker Boehner and other House leaders seem open to taking up reform—even if it is piecemeal. However, House skepticism of the White House is at an all-time high following the bruising battle over the shutdown and default. It’s difficult to imagine a bill that could get substantial enough support from Republicans to pass in the House that would be acceptable to Senate Democrats and the White House.
Farm Bill Update
It was announced this week that the first formal farm bill conference committee meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 30. All 41 conferees will be making opening statements, including Rep. Rodney Davis.
Senator Kirk Visits Urbana
Senator Mark Kirk visited Urbana-Champaign on Thursday to tour the National Petascale Computing Facility and to see the Blue Waters supercomputer. The tour was led by VCR Peter Schiffer, NCSA's John Melchi, Thom Dunning, Rob Pennington, and Bill Kramer. The Senator discussed with the group the future of supercomputing and the ways NCSA can help industry be more competitive.
Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas
OGR Federal Relations