Posted by Mariah Luft May 14,2013
The Office of Federal Relations had the pleasure of hosting a very important visitor last week. President Elson S. Floyd was in Washington DC for two full days of meeting to discuss the important role of Washington State University around education, innovative research and economic development throughout the state. During his visit, the President met with Members of the Washington State delegation, visited the West Wing of the White House to meet with the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House and staff from the Domestic Policy Council along with meeting with the President and senior staff (including WSU Alumni Ken Lisaius) of Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) the trade association representing all things bio related. He also spoke at The Science Coalition’s Breakfast of Champions, where 28 Members of Congress were recognized for their ongoing leadership and commitment to science and research.
Throughout the visit, Dr. Floyd had the opportunity to provide representatives and their staff with first hand examples of the effects of sequestration on our faculty, students and staff. In addition to highlighting the economic impact it has on communities throughout Washington State. Dr. Floyd along with his peers, Robert A. Brown, president at Boston University and Susan Desmond-Hellman, chancellor of University of California San Francisco, released an Op-Ed emphasizing the importance of federal investment in research and how this will keep our communities competitive and moving forward. You can find a copy here.
This week on the Hill, both the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Agriculture Committee will be marking-up their respective versions of the Farm Bill. According to the Congressional Budget Office there are large discrepancies between the cuts in the House and Senate versions of the bill that may pose a challenge in both chambers reaching an agreement.
Today the Senate Agriculture Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill with very little changes to the base bill. Research and renewable energy were left intact with programs receiving mandatory funding. Most of the debate centered around the SNAP program – and we expect the debate to be contentious when the bill is on the Senate Floor sometime this spring. The Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow’s (D-MI) bill, proposes $24.4 billion in savings over 10 years, including $6.4 as part of sequestration. A bill introduced by the House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) is set to be marked-up on Wednesday at 10 AM. The bill would reduce spending by $39.7 billion over the 10 years. Approximately $20.5 billion in funding would come from food stamp and nutritional programs. We anticipate floor action on the bill this summer.
Today the Senate Judiciary Committee is continuing the mark-up of S.744, the Border Security Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. The bill introduced by the bipartisan “Senate Gang of 8” has caused a quite a bit of buzz inside and outside of the beltway. The legislation would raise the cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 annually to 110,000 annually. It also calls for greater border security while creating an opportunity for eventual citizenship for more than 11 million people currently in the United States illegally. Since releasing the draft of the bill, Senator’s have introduced more than two-dozen amendments that may slow down the current momentum behind the bill. Despite this challenge, President Obama has indicated passage of an Immigration bill is a top priority for him in his second term – so we anticipate he will put some political capital behind his effort.
Continue to check back this week as we will be providing updates on the Farm Bill and current and upcoming student loan legislation and what it will mean for WSU.