Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

Federal Update for March 21

The Congress has approved, and the President has signed, a three-week continuing resolution (CR) that will sustain FY11 federal funding through April 8.  This sixth FY11 CR includes an additional $6 billion in cuts from current spending levels.  The U.S. House approved the bill on March 15 by a vote of 271 to 158; the U.S. Senate approved the measure on March 17 by a vote of 87 to 13.   The short-term bill was needed to sustain government funding after the current CR was to expire on Friday, March 18.

It is being reported that there is growing opposition to any further short-term CRs, noting that "rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties said they will not support another stopgap funding bill…"  Further, Senate Republican leaders have vowed to resist any further short-term spending measure after this one that does not include defense funding for the rest of FY11.

National Journal Daily reports that congressional leaders believe they need to reach agreement on the longer term FY11 CR by the end of March in order to give both chambers time to move the package before the two-week Easter recess, which begins on April 18.  

Based on the House Appropriations Committee press release (which can be found at:, the new measure includes no policy riders and makes no cuts in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), or the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science.  The bill reduces or terminates 25 programs for a savings of $3.5 billion (the bill terminates the Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Radio Interconnection program of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and eliminates "$2.6 billion in earmark account funding (within the Agriculture, Commerce/State/Justice, Financial Services/General Government, and Interior subcommittee jurisdictions) that was automatically renewed in the CR approved by the previous Congress in December."  

Last week, the Senate debated, but did not pass, legislation (S. 493) to reauthorize two small business research programs: the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  The chamber is expected to approve the bill following this week's recess.  
The House Small Business Committee held a hearing on SBIR/STTR reauthorization on March 16 and will hold another hearing on April 7.  The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation will hold a hearing on the programs on March 31.

The National SBIR Conference will be held in Madison on April 11-13, at Monona Terrace.  University researchers and entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend to learn about new SBIR/STTR initiative and program changes and opportunities for partnership.

On March 17, the Department of Education issued a guidance letter ( on the final program integrity regulations published in the Federal Register on October 29, 2010.  The letter provides guidance on three areas of the final regulations: state authorization, incentive compensation, and misrepresentation. The letter states that it "is provided to assist institutions with understanding the changes to the regulations in these areas, and does not make any changes to the regulations."

UW System Federal Priorities for FY2012 is now posted at

(AAU and the UW System Office of Federal Relations contributed to this report.)