Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

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

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Federal Update for March 8, 2012

The New Democrat Coalition, chaired by U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), released a set of 10 principles for U.S. innovation and competitiveness that includes support for basic research, reform of the nation's immigration policies, and promotion of life-long learning.  Release of the agenda by the group of 43 House Democrats was accompanied by an op-ed in Roll Call by Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), who led development of the principles.  The two lawmakers said in their op-ed:

"One way the government can ensure America's future economic competitiveness is by investing in the next generation.  U.S. colleges and universities rank 27th globally for graduates with science or engineering degrees.  By investing in science, technology, engineering and math studies, we can guarantee our students are ready for 21st-century jobs and are educated to excel in the industries critical to America's future.

Recall that it was only through federal intervention that we were able to level the playing field after the 1957 launch of Sputnik 1 symbolized the Soviet Union's victory in the opening salvo of the Space Race. Congress, in a bipartisan fashion, responded by doubling R&D spending and tripling support for basic research.  Those investments in innovation are still bearing fruit today: the Apollo Program, the Internet and touch-screen technology, to name just a few.  We must continue to build on the successful partnerships that have supported basic research on our college campuses and developed new technology within the private sector."
Under the leadership of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, 21 higher education associations have created a website to help member campuses navigate federal regulations that affect higher education.  The Higher Education Compliance Alliance website will aggregate information and resources about the array of federal regulations affecting colleges and universities, from export controls and immigration requirements to student affairs, employment law, and research compliance.  The material will be provided by associations, government agencies, and other sources.    

U.S. House conservatives appear to have won the support of Republican leaders for writing a fiscal 2013 budget resolution that would set discretionary spending at levels lower than those negotiated in last year's debt agreement.

Republicans could settle shortly on a $1.028 trillion discretionary spending figure, which would be $19 billion below the enacted fiscal 2013 cap and $15 billion below the fiscal 2012 cap. The debt law (Public Law 112-25) envisions a $4 billion increase from fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2013. After weeks of wrangling, the conservative Republican Study Group has won support for the lower caps by telling leaders that, in exchange, they would not offer an alternative budget, as they did for fiscal 2012, and would not oppose leaders on other legislative priorities, including stopgap spending measures late in the fiscal year. Moreover, conservatives have said lower overall spending would make them likely to back the 12 annual appropriations bills, and their support would allow GOP leaders to pass them in the House without needing Democratic support. "You get a number low enough and you'll get conservatives with you," said Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, a freshman Republican on the House Budget Committee. Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, said Wednesday that the Speaker has always viewed the spending caps in the debt limit law as ceilings and that he would be glad to spend less if possible.

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