Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

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

Monday, April 4, 2011

Federal Updae for Monday, April 4, 2011

Both chambers reconvene today, Monday, April 4.  Given that the current short-term continuing resolution (CR) expires on Friday, April 8, both need to consider some type of legislation to prevent a government shutdown after Friday. 

With the current FY11 continuing resolution (CR) set to expire Friday, Republican and Democratic negotiators appear to be going down to the wire on reaching agreement on a funding package for the six months remaining in FY11 and avoiding a government shutdown. 

Politico reports that the two sides have settled on total FY11 discretionary spending of $1.055 trillion, which is $28 billion above the level contained in the House-passed long-term FY11 CR and $33 billion below FY10 levels.  House and Senate appropriations committee staff members are working to craft the six-month compromise legislation.  While $10 billion has already been cut from FY11 spending through the current and previous short-term CRs—which cut earmarks and programs the President had already identified for cuts or elimination in his FY12 budget—the remaining cuts will be made over just the remaining six months of FY11, amplifying their impact on affected programs and agencies. 

Meanwhile, Members are looking ahead to what are expected to be larger fights over the FY12 budget and raising the debt ceiling.  House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) discussed his own FY12 plan during the Sunday morning talk show circuit – a plan which, in part, focuses on significant savings in Medicare and Medicaid.  

UW System President Kevin Reilly and Chancellors called for sustained funding for research and student aid (see previous Federal Update).

The Senate continued consideration this week of legislation (S. 493) to reauthorize two small business research programs:  the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  Debate on the bill, the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011, began on March 15, but it has been extended by Senators using it as an opportunity to highlight a variety of policy and funding issues, most of which have no relation to the underlying bill. reports that there is "no immediate endgame in sight."

In the House, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing last week on reauthorization of the programs.  Subcommittee Chair Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Ranking Member Rep. David Wu (D-OR) indicated their desire to see the legislation come to the floor quickly and be reconciled with the Senate bill.  The discussion draft being circulated in the House does not contain the increase in the small-business set-aside for research agencies proposed in the Senate bill.  

The UW System supports reauthorization of the SBIR/STTR programs generally, permanent status, and favors increasing funding guidelines for Phase I and Phase II of the SBIR/STTR programs.

The Science Committee shares jurisdiction over SBIR/STTR with the House Small Business Committee, which held its own hearing on the reauthorization March 16 and plans another hearing on April 7. 

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