Budget Agreement Soon to Be Law
On Wednesday, the Senate passed the two-year budget deal by a vote of 64-36. Senator Dick Durbin voted in support of the agreement and Senator Mark Kirk voted against it. On his Facebook page, Senator Kirk indicated that he opposed the deal because it "raises spending now in exchange for the hope of future cuts." The bill will soon be signed into law, ensuring $63 billion in sequestration relief over the next two years.
House and Senate Appropriation Committees will be working these next couple weeks to prepare Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 program spending allocations that reflect the higher top-line spending level of $1.012 trillion. The current FY14 continuing resolution expires on January 15, so when Congress returns from the holiday recess, they will vote on a large omnibus package that wraps up all of the individual appropriations bills.
Senate Committee Discusses Patent Reform
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on "patent troll" abuse. This hearing follows the House's passage of the "Innovation Act," patent litigation legislation which contained provisions that troubled universities and the venture-capital community. As written, the Innovation Act would threaten the ability of patent holders to enforce their rights and it would create disincentives for investors to fund university start-ups.
OGR worked closely with our Offices of Technology Management, UI patent lawyers, and Illinois Ventures--as well as with Northwestern University and the University of Chicago--to make sure that Senator Durbin, a member of the Judiciary Committee, understood our concerns. During the hearing, Senator Durbin asked questions on our behalf and included our letter of concerns as part of the record.
New Senate Finance Committee Chairman
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has been nominated by the Administration to be the next Ambassador to China. There have been reports that Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) will succeed the chairmanship over this powerful committee which is expected to consider comprehensive tax reform next year.
DELEGATION SUPPORT FOR ARGONNE & UI GRANT PROPOSAL
Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx this week in support of a Department of Transportation grant that the University of Illinois at Chicago has applied for with Argonne National Laboratory, Metra, Pace Suburban Bus Service, the Illinois Department of Transportation, and the Illinois Institute of Technology. This grant will fund a research program to improve emergency response procedures for our nation's mass transit systems. Argonne is leading the proposal, but UIC's Urban Transportation Center and Department of Civil and Materials Engineering would play a key role. Next week, the House will also be sending a support letter. Signatories include Representatives Bill Foster, Dan Lipinski, Mike Quigley, Brad Schneider, Cheri Bustos, Randy Hultgren, Rodney Davis, and Tammy Duckworth.
H.R. 3698, the Two-Midnight Rule Delay Act of 2013
Sponsor: Representative Peter Roskam
Bill Description: "To delay the enforcement of the Medicare two-midnight rule for short inpatient hospital stays until the implementation of a new Medicare payment methodology for short inpatient hospital stays"
Current Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways & Means
This is an important issue for the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System
Earlier this week, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced that the Chicago Area Patient Centered Outcomes Research Network (CAPriCORN), a coalition of 20 health and hospital organizations from Illinois, had been awarded $7 million in research funding to launch a clinical data research network (CDRN). The University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System are both collaborating with other healthcare institutions in this project, which will work to improve health outcomes for patients suffering from chronic illnesses.
Due to the holidays, there will not be a federal relations e-newsletter until Friday, January 10. We wish you and your loved ones best wishes this holiday season!
Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas
OGR Federal Relations