Congressional News

114th Congress Gavels In; Committee Leaders Appointed

The 114th Congress was officially sworn in on January 6. The new Congress includes a freshman class of 52 Representatives (36 Republicans and 16 Democrats) and 12 Senators (11 Republicans and 1 Democrat), as well as a new GOP majority in the Senate. The party split now stands at 246 Republicans to 188 Democrats (and 1 vacancy) in the House and 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats, and 2 Independents in the Senate.

Congress passes FY 2015 Spending Bill, Adjourns for the Year

Congress adjourned this week for the remainder of 2014 after a busy, and often contentious, lame duck legislative session. Among its post-election activities was passage of a spending package for 11 of the 12 outstanding fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills. The “cromnibus,” as it is being called inside the Beltway, was signed into law by President Obama on December 16. COSSA has prepared a full analysis of the spending package outlining its impact on social and behavioral science research programs funded across the federal government. Read on for full details. Back to this issue’s table of contents.  

FY 2015 Funding Bills Approaching December 11 Deadline

As previously reported, the 113th Congress still has more work to do to complete the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations process before adjourning at the end of the month. At the time of this writing, negotiations between House and Senate appropriators and leadership continue, all working toward some form of final agreement to fund the federal government before the current temporary spending measure expires on December 11. Latest reports suggest that an omnibus appropriations bill that consolidates most of the 12 appropriations bills is still the preferred option, but a hybrid approach that includes an omnibus for some bills and…

More Questions than Answers Following Midterm Elections

Following last week’s midterm Congressional elections, Republicans have gained control of both chambers of Congress when the 114th Congress is seated in January. Congress returned last week for the start of a month and a half-long lame duck session. On their plate includes must-pass legislation such as the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills and defense authorization bill. However, with the party calculus significantly changed starting next year, action on spending bills and other legislative issues in the lame duck will be all but easy. See the articles that follow for more information.

Congress Returns for Lame Duck Session

Congress returned to Washington on November 12 for the start of the post-election lame duck session. Among the must-pass actions in this lame duck session are the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills. The current continuing resolution (CR) that has kept the federal government in operation since the start of the fiscal year on October 1 expires on December 11. Leadership and staff of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been working behind the scenes on an omnibus bill that would package all twelve of the unpassed appropriations measures into a single package. The goal is to bring the…

Outcome of Midterm Elections May Not Offer Clarity over FY 2015 Endgame

The remaining weeks of 2014 could see an effort to pass a sweeping omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2015, should the Republicans gain control of the Senate after the midterm Congressional elections tomorrow. Even though the Democrats would still control the Senate until January, Republican leaders have stated that under such a scenario they would work during the lame duck session to pass an omnibus, allowing the 114th Congress to start in January with a clean slate. However, such a feat has proven impossible in recent history. For example, the FY 2014 appropriations process was not completed until…

Congresswoman Johnson Defends NSF’s Merit Review Process

Last week, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, released a letter penned to Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) expressing concern over the chairman’s ongoing “investigation” into the merit review process at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and criticism of individual grants funded by NSF. Her letter comes as Chairman Smith has issued a third request in 18 months for NSF to provide the Committee with confidential, pre-decisional merit review documents for 30 additional grants; Smith has previously asked for documentation on a group of five grants and a second group…

Funding Bills Punted Until After Midterm Elections

The House and Senate easily passed a continuing resolution (CR), or temporary spending measure, last week to keep the federal government operating through December 11. With fiscal year (FY) 2015 approaching on October 1, Congress was not able to complete its work on the FY 2015 appropriations bills before adjourning again to campaign for November’s midterm elections. The CR (H.J. Res. 124) totals $1.012 trillion and extends current year (FY 2014) funding and policy directives into the first 10 weeks of FY 2015. In addition, the bill includes an across-the-board cut of 0.0554 percent to keep spending within the discretionary…

Rep. Johnson Defends Social Science and Education Research at Dyslexia Hearing

The full House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on The Science of Dyslexia on September 18. The panel heard from the co-chairs of the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus, researchers whose work focuses on dyslexia, and other advocates. Much of the discussion focused on how to better leverage the wealth of scientific evidence we have to help children and adults with dyslexia succeed. However, in her opening statement, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), pointed out that much of this knowledge is the product of those disciplines members of the Committee have disparaged in the past: “A significant amount…

Education Research, NCES Bill Clears Senate Panel

On September 17, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee marked up and reported out the Strengthening Education through Research Act, or SETRA (H.R. 4366). The bill, which was passed by the full House of Representatives in May, would amend and reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA) through 2020. ESRA serves as authorizing legislation for the Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Research, National Center for Education Statistics, and other components within the U.S. Department of Education. COSSA joined the American Educational Research Association (AERA), a COSSA Governing Member, and other groups on…

House Appropriations Committee Democrats Introduce FY 2015 Labor, HHS, and Education Bill

On September 15, the Democratic members of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee (Labor-HHS), led by Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), introduced their version of a fiscal year (FY) 2015 funding bill for the programs within the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction. The Labor-HHS bill is the only appropriations bill that has yet to be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee. Thus far, the Subcommittee’s Republican majority has given no indication that it intends to introduce a Labor-HHS bill this year. This is the second consecutive year and third year out of the last four that the Subcommittee…

House Subcommittee Discusses Suicide Prevention and Treatment

On September 18, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing, “Suicide Prevention and Treatment: Helping Loved Ones in Mental Health Crisis.” Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), a psychologist, explained that the hearing was an attempt to “take the conversation about suicide out of the dark shadow of stigma and into the bright light of truth and hope. Suicide is the deadly outcome of mental illness. Suicide is when depression kills. Suicide is an epidemic and its impact is staggering.”

Congress Returns this Week for Short, Packed Work Period

The House and Senate return to Washington this week from their month-long August recess. They have only a couple of weeks to address a number of major policy issues, such as immigration, the child migrant crisis on the border, and ongoing foreign conflicts, before both chambers adjourn again until after the November midterm elections. Among the to-dos in the coming weeks is consideration of a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government operating into fiscal year (FY) 2015, which begins on October 1. The outcome of the elections weighs heavily on potential end-game strategies for the FY 2015 appropriations…

Analysis of FY 2015 Senate Labor-HHS Bill

In late July, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of its fiscal year (FY) 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill. This is the annual spending bill that provides funding to the National Institutes of Health and other HHS agencies, the Department of Education, and the Department of Labor, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As previously reported, the bill was approved by the Labor-HHS Subcommittee in June, but action has since stalled. It is unclear if or when the full Senate Appropriations Committee will take up the bill. COSSA’s full analysis of…

Uncertain Outlook for Completion of FY 2015 Spending Bills

The House and Senate have headed home for their five-week August recess. As previously reported, work on the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills stalled out earlier in the summer when Senate Democrats and Republicans could not come to agreement on a process for considering amendments. Senate Democrats have mentioned their interest in attempting an omnibus appropriations package when they return this fall. However, on the House side, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has confirmed that the House will consider a continuing resolution (CR) upon return in September to keep the federal government operating into FY 2015, which begins on October…

America COMPETES Reauthorization Bill Introduced in Senate

On July 31, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, introduced the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014 (S. 2757). Original co-sponsors include Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Edward Markey (D-MA).

Senate Appropriations Proposes Small Increase for NEH

On August 1, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the draft bill and committee report for fiscal year (FY) 2015 funding for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which includes the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The bill would give NEH a $4 million increase, bringing its FY 2015 appropriation to $150 million. The committee report directs the agency to use some of the additional funds to “expand its new, agency-wide special initiative for veterans and active military and their families, Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War.” The President’s budget request called for maintaining NEH’s FY 2014 level…

Senate Appropriations Committee Releases Text of FY 2015 Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill

On July 24, the Senate Appropriations Committee released bill language and the accompanying Committee report for the fiscal year (FY) 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations bill. The Labor-HHS Subcommittee approved the bill via voice vote in June. It is still unclear when or if the measure will be considered by the full Appropriations Committee. Instead, it is all but certain that Congress will enact a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to allow time to complete the FY 2015 appropriations process after the November elections. The Senate Appropriations Committee also released draft bills and…

Draft COMPETES/NSF Bill Released in the Senate

Earlier this month, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee released a draft of its America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014 for public input. The America COMPETES Act is bipartisan legislation originally enacted in 2007 and reauthorized in 2010 to revitalize the U.S. scientific enterprise by making critical investments in U.S. basic science agencies. These investments were intended to ensure the U.S.’s continued standing as the global leader in science and technology innovation. COMPETES serves as authorizing legislation for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and…

FY 2015 Spending Bills May Wait for the Lame Duck

As the Congressional August recess approaches in just a few weeks, it has become all but certain that a continuing resolution (CR) will be enacted to push work on the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills to after the November midterm elections. The House and Senate are likely to be consumed with the President’s proposals for supplemental funding to address the migrant child crisis and wildfires out west during the scant remaining summer workdays, leaving little time to advance any of the FY 2015 spending measures before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. Despite Senate leadership’s promise to…

Subscribe

Past Newsletters

Browse

Archive

Browse 40 years of the COSSA Washington Update.