Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Federal Update for February 28, 2011

The Senate returned to session today, February 28, to begin consideration of the Patent Reform Act of 2011 (S. 23).  The House also returns to session today.  This week, both the House and Senate will need to approve a short-term funding bill—probably lasting two weeks—to maintain federal spending while House Republican and Senate Democratic leaders negotiate a longer-term package to cover the remaining seven months of Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11).  

House Republicans leaders introduced last Friday a short-term CR that would fund government programs for two weeks at their current levels—which are generally frozen at FY10 levels—minus $4 billion.  The cuts in the two-week spending bill are proportional to those in the long-term CR that the House passed earlier, which would cut $61 billion over the remaining seven months of FY11.  

According to Politico, leaders of the House Appropriations Committee said that most of the $4 billion in cuts in the short-term CR would be achieved by "sweeping up old pork-barrel projects and terminating programs already targeted by the White House."  

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have shown a new willingness to cut spending in a short-term CR, modifying their earlier support of a one-month CR at current spending levels.  As described by Politico, Senate Democrats have now "stepped past President Barack Obama and signaled they would begin looking for new cuts below his spending freeze, an important move in the GOP's direction."  

National Journal reports that Senate Democrats are working on a seven-month FY11 CR that would cut $8.5 billion in previously approved earmarks and "accelerate about $24.7 billion in program eliminations or reductions sought by President Obama in his fiscal 2010 budget proposal."  Senate leaders plan to present the plan to House Republicans early this week.  

A group of 12 higher education associations sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) providing detailed comments on a proposed rule on SEC registration of municipal advisors. The University of Wisconsin System also sent a letter on February 22, 2011, which expresses concern that the proposed rule's broad definition of "municipal advisor" could be interpreted to require employees and governing board members to register with the Commission.  The associations, and UW System, urge the Commission to exclude such individuals from the definition.