Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

Updates on state and federal issues relating to the UW System.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Federal Update for January 3, 2011

Release of FY2012 Budget Delayed

Various media have reported that President Obama intends to delay release of his 2012 budget until the week of February 14, 2011. According to Administration officials, the FY 2012 budget plan will be unveiled about one week later than usual due to the long time it took for the Senate to confirm Jack Lew as the new director of the Office of Management and Budget, and because ultimate funding decisions for FY2011 have lingered. Congress passed a continuing resolution before adjourning that will keep the government funded at primarily FY2010 levels through March 4, 2011.

House Committees Renamed

The new Republican leadership is proposing name changes for three House committees: the Committee on Science and Technology will now be the Committee on Science, Space and Technology; the Committee on Education and Labor will now be the Committee on Education and the Workforce; and the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct will now be the Committee on Ethics. A vote is expected this week.

Scientific Integrity Guidelines Issues by the White House

The White House recently issued guidelines intended to protect agency scientific research from political interference. The guidelines follow up a Presidential memorandum released in March 2009 ( to ensure scientific integrity involving federal agencies and scientists.

Actions of the 111th Lame Duck Session

On December 22, the House of Representatives and Senate adjourned following a flurry of Congressional activity in the final few days of the 111th Congress.

Fiscal Year 2011 Appropriations

Congress passed another Continuing Resolution (CR) before adjourning, thereby delaying the ultimate outcome of FY2011 appropriations again. This CR will keep the government funded until March 4, 2011. The CR funds the Pell Grant program sufficiently to maintain the $5,550 maximum award, but it does not pay off the shortfall in the program. The spending legislation did not include earmarks. The 112th Congress will determine how to fund the government for the remaining part of FY 2011.

America COMPETES Reauthorization Act

Before adjourning, the House passed the Senate version of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5116). COMPETES is based on recommendations in the National Academies’ 2005 Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, which recommended investments to support basic research, improve STEM education, and foster innovation.


Unable to achieve enough votes in the Senate to end debate and take up the DREAM Act before it adjourned, the bill therefore died. It will be up to the new 112th Congress whether the bill will be taken up, and it is widely assumed that prospects for passage are improbable.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

The House did not consider the Senate-passed Small Business Innovation Research Reauthorization bill before it adjourned. The SBIR program helps to translate and transform innovative ideas and projects into new products and services that produce jobs and economic growth. In particular, Wisconsin’s growth of high-tech clusters owes their origin, in large part, to the availability of these (and STTR) federal funds.