Congress Approves "Clean" Debt Ceiling, Avoids Default
Congress lifted the debt ceiling this week with a very close vote in the House but no strings attached, signaling a potential cease fire in the budgetary wars that have gripped Washington the past three years. With a topline budget number in hand for Fiscal Year 2015 and no need to extend Congress’ budgetary authority before the next election, there is widespread hope this returns Congress to a sense of budgetary normalcy.
Interestingly, the measure succeeded because all but only two Democrats supported the vote, while nearly all members in the majority opposed it. The votes were close in both chambers, 221 - 201 in the House and 55 - 43 in the Senate. All Illinois Democrats supported the measure. With the exception of Rep. Peter Roskam and Rep. John Shimkus, all Illinois delegation Republicans did not.
President's Budget Request to be Delivered in Installments
We learned from the Office of Management & Budget this week that the White House will be splitting it's Fiscal Year 2015 budget into two separate parts. The top-line budget (entailing a budget summary by department and agency) will be released on March 4, and will be later accompanied by a more detailed budget on March 11.
ILLINOIS IN DC
University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) Student Trustee Jamaal Hollins led a delegation of UIS students to DC to lobby on issues pertinent to their fellow students. Specifically, they spoke to the importance of federal student aid for both undergraduate and graduate students (including Pell Grants and Federal Work Study), UIS' leadership in online education, UIS’ student support programs (including the Necessary Steps Mentoring Program), and UIS’ cyber security training initiatives. The student group accompanying Jamaal included Katie Reynolds, William Newton, Paige Heiser, and Aaron Mulvey. Their faculty advisor for the trip was UIS Associate Chancellor for Constituent Relations Ed Wojcicki. Even with last minute floor changes and the winter storm, they had a chance to meet with Rep. Rodney Davis, Rep. Cheri Bustos, Rep. Robin Kelly, and the offices of Sen. Mark Kirk, Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Rep. Aaron Schock, and Rep. Bobby Rush. They also met with the Director of Federal Relations and Policy Analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the President of the United States Student Association.
Urbana’s College of Engineering Dean, Andreas Cangellaris, visited Washington this week as part of the national engineering deans conference. While here, he also met with the offices of Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Randy Hultgren, Rep. Rodney Davis, and Rep. Dan Lipinski to share the college’s priority areas in supercomputing, bioengineering, cyber security and Big Data. He also discussed the importance of sustained investments in the National Science Foundation as Congress reauthorizes the America COMPETES Act as well as Illinois’ strengths in advanced manufacturing.
Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas
OGR Federal Relations