The House of Representatives approved the Republican budget resolution introduced last week by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price. Provisions remained largely intact, with the exception of an increase in the limit on war spending. Seventeen Republicans (none of which were from Illinois) broke with their party and opposed the measure. All House Democrats who voted opposed the measure.
The Senate also took up the Republican budget resolution introduced by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi. Hundreds of amendments were filed. During a “vote-a-rama” that started yesterday around noon and continued into today's early morning hours, the Senate considered dozens of amendments. There were a number of amendments offered that were relevant to universities:
- Student Loan Refinancing: Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced an amendment to allow borrowers with outstanding federal and private student loans to refinance at the equivalent interest rates that were offered to federal student loan borrowers last school year. It was rejected (46-53).
- Basic Research: Senator Dick Durbin filed an amendment that would increase federal funding in biomedical and basic research. Unfortunately the amendment was not considered.
- College Ratings System: Sen. Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the Senate education committee, filed an amendment to prohibit the use of federal funds to create a college ratings system. The amendment was not voted on.
- Manufacturing Universities: While it wasn't brought to the floor for a vote, there was an amendment filed modeled off of the Manufacturing Universities Act—legislation UI supports—which was just re-introduced last week and would allow NIST to designate up to 25 "manufacturing universities."
- Immigration: An amendment supporting high-skilled immigration (H-1B visas) was filed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, but it did not receive a vote.
The Senate budget was approved on a final roll call vote of 52 to 46. Again, no Democrats voted in favor.
Though these budget blueprints will not be signed into law, they set the discretionary spending limit that Congress can enact through the appropriations process. Now that separate budgets have been approved by the respective chambers, the next step is for them to undergo negotiation by a conference committee.