Washington Insights & Highlights
January 25, 2019
Congressional Update

Short-Term Deal Reached to Re-open Government  

On Friday, January 25, Congress and the White House reached a deal re-open the government for three weeks. Congress will move to pass a continuing resolution (CR) through February 15, funding the reminder of the government at current levels, without any additional funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. During this time, lawmakers will negotiate a border security deal and pass funding through the reminder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.

This comes after Congress made several failed attempts this week to fund the government. The House of Representatives voted for a tenth time on legislation that would re-open the government, passing a six-bill spending package that combines the remaining fiscal 2019 appropriations bills agreed upon by the House and Senate last year, along with a CR for the Department of Homeland Security through February 28. Next week, House Democrats are aiming to release a proposed full-year Homeland Security measure, which could include at least $5.7 billion for border security, but no new funding for a border wall.

The Senate took two procedural votes on Thursday, January 24, on government funding legislation:

  • a package which includes $5.7 billion for the wall and temporary protections for some undocumented immigrants, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, as well as disaster aid funding;
  • and a clean, House-passed CR running through February 8.

Both failed to reach the necessary 60-vote threshold to pass. The White House continues to maintain its position that the President will not sign any legislation to re-open the government unless it includes wall funding.

Science agencies that are not subject to the partial shutdown, including the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), are also beginning to feel the effects. House Science Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) is asking DOE to explain reports that employees, within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Advanced Research Projects Agency­Energy (ARPA-E), were ordered to cancel upcoming agency-sponsored travel.

Additionally, the shutdown could impact the legal case over Harvard University’s admissions policies. The Justice Department is one of the agencies under the partial shutdown, and federal courts are only expected to be able to operate until the end of the month. The White House is asking agencies to provide a list of programs that would be most impacted if the shutdown stretches into March or April.

On Wednesday, January 23, CGS joined a coalition letter to the President and Congressional leaders calling for an end to the shutdown and voicing concerns around the impact of the funding lapse on science and research conduct by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies. 

Makeup of House Committees Welcomes New Members

This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the addition of nine new Democratic members, including eight freshmen, to the Science, Space and Technology Committee. Additionally, two more Democrats were added to the Education and Labor Committee, and committee Republicans released their full roster, which includes ten new members.

Bill Aims to Help Veterans into STEM Careers

Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) aims to help veterans re-entering the workforce find jobs in STEM-related occupations. The Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act (S. 153) would direct the National Science Foundation to encourage veterans to pursue STEM careers and require the Office of Science and Technology Policy to coordinate programs across the federal government that train and transition veterans into the STEM workforce.

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Lauren Inouye
Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs
Kenneth Polishchuk
Senior Manager of Public Policy and Government Affairs
Council of Graduate Schools
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