Happy New Year and welcome back! We hope you had a wonderful holiday break. Both the House and the Senate returned to DC this week with a critical deadline looming—the expiration of the current continuing resolution on January 15.
Budget and Appropriations Update
Throughout the holidays, House and Senate appropriators were busy drafting 12 individual appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 to account for the higher top-line spending level set by December's budget deal. The less controversial appropriations bills have been completed, but partisan sticking points related to the health care law, the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul, and Environmental Protection Agency carbon regulations have held up the Labor-HHS-Education, Financial Services, and Interior-Environment bills.
Although an omnibus package is still expected to be released very soon (perhaps even this weekend), both the House and the Senate will take up a three-day extension of the current continuing resolution at the beginning of next week to give the chambers some breathing room to pass the final package. We do not expect another government shutdown.
Farm Bill Update
Top farm bill negotiators met this week to examine outstanding issues. Past debates over dairy policy resurfaced, and on Thursday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas acknowledged that the farm bill conference report probably won't see floor action until late January.
Community Requests Second Senate Hearing on Patent Legislation
Higher education and research associations, including AAU and APLU, sent a letter last week to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), asking him to hold a second hearing on legislation to reform patent litigation. The purpose of the hearing would be to allow universities and other stakeholders to testify about the complexities surrounding this issue. At the first committee hearing, last month, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and other Senators called for additional hearings at the request of the University of Illinois and other universities.
WHITE HOUSE TO HOST HIGHER EDUCATION SUMMIT
Next Thursday, higher education leaders as well as leaders from philanthropy, business and city and state governments will participate in a day-long summit at the White House which will focus on improving the success of low-income students in higher education. This event had previously been postponed due to Nelson Mandela's memorial service. Following the event, Vice President of Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre will be submitting a letter to the White House on behalf of the entire university highlighting some of the initiatives that our campuses are undertaking to help low-income students.
URBANA PROFESSOR HONORED WITH WHITE HOUSE AWARD
The White House honored Dr. Lane Martin, Assistant Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, among the 102 researchers to receive the 2013 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This highly esteemed award is bestowed upon exceptional young scientists and engineers establishing their independent research careers. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) nominated Dr. Martin for this five-year award for his impressive research of multifunctional materials such as ferroelectrics, magnets and multiferroics. At a later date, Dr. Martin will travel to Washington, DC where he will be honored at the DOD and the White House. Congratulations, Dr. Martin, on this outstanding accomplishment!
DIGITAL LAB FOR MANUFACTURING PROPOSAL UPDATE
DOD has yet to make official announcements about any of the three advanced manufacturing hubs, including the Digital Manufacturing and Design Institute (DMDI). A decision is expected to be made this month, and the UI LABS-led proposal is still under active consideration.
S.1822, the Foreign Medical School Accountability Fairness Act of 2013
Sponsor: Senator Dick Durbin
Bill Description: "To establish consistent eligibility requirements for graduate medical schools operating outside of the United States and Canada in order to increase accountability and protect American students and taxpayer dollars."
Current Status: Referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
College of Medicine Dean Dimitri Azar has written a letter of support for the legislation.
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Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas
OGR Federal Relations