Farm Bill Clears House
On Wednesday, the House approved the farm bill conference report by a vote of 251-166. The Senate is expected to take up the conference report early next week. Throughout the entire reauthorization process, Rep. Rodney Davis was instrumental in advocating on behalf of UI's interests in the research title.
Raising Debt Ceiling May Not Be a Heavy Lift
According to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, the debt ceiling will need to be increased by the end of February to prevent default. Unlike previous instances where Congress has been faced with raising the nation's debt limit, it appears that this may be resolved without a prolonged fight between the parties. This is largely because the President and Democrats insist on a "clean" increase (meaning without negotiation), and Republicans have struggled to reach consensus and outcomes in the past on desired concessions.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union Address. His remarks on federal research, manufacturing, and higher education are highlighted below.
With regard to research, President Obama said the following:
"We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender. Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery.."
On manufacturing, President Obama mentioned that his Administration will launch six new hubs this year.
With regard to higher education, President Obama talked about the need to "reduce inequality in access," "give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value," and his efforts to allow student loan borrowers the ability to cap "monthly student loan payments to ten percent of their income." APLU released a statement responding to his comments.
House Republicans Release Immigration Principles
House Speaker John Boehner unveiled the GOP's immigration reform princples on Thursday. As expected, it included support for a path to legal status for the undocumented. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama iterated that passing immigration reform should be a priority for this year, but without drawing lines in the sand over the issue of a path to citizenship, which is yet another indication that there is greater possibility for progress.
ILLINOIS IN DC
Urbana Vice Chancellor for Research Peter Schiffer was in DC for the Universities Research Association Council of Presidents Annual Meeting and Policy Forum. While here, he and National Center for Supercomputing Applications Director Ed Seidel visited with Illinois Congressional delegation staff to discuss defense and supercomputing priorities. They also made the rounds at the National Science Foundation (NSF), old stomping grounds for Dr. Seidel, who previously served as Director of NSF's Office of Cyberinfrastructure.
WASHINGTON IN ILLINOIS
Sen. Durbin Tours Mile Square Health Center
Sen. Dick Durbin visited UI Health's newest Mile Square Health Center today to tour the facility and learn more about how UI Health is implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The facility had its ribbon-cutting ceremony on January 21. Discussions included how the health care center is reaching out to the community to help uninsured patients obtain insurance. Sen. Durbin was particularly interested in the inclusion of specialty care at a community health center, especially oral health care. Rep. Danny Davis also participated in the morning's activities. Attendees from UI included: VPHA's Associate Vice President of Community Based Practice Robert Winn, MD, Mile Square Health Center's Chairman of the Board of Directors Reverend Randall Harris, Chief Medical Officer Kameron Matthews, MD, and Executive Director Henry Taylor.
OBAMA PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY FOUNDATION LAUNCHED
President Obama launched important first steps for kicking off his presidential library and museum today by announcing a foundation that will oversee a competitive selection process. The foundation hopes to pick a site early in 2015. Leading contenders include UIC, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and the University of Hawaii.
Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas
OGR Federal Relations