Federal Relations

February 24, 2015

New Plan for Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

For the fourth time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was unable evening to call up a $39.7 billion House-passed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill on Monday evening amid united Democratic opposition to provisions blocking recent executive action on immigration riders. Following the failure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to consider a standalone bill narrowly targeting

February 12, 2015

Ashton Carter Confirmed as Secretary of Defense

Today, the Senate on Thursday confirmed Ashton B. Carter to be the next defense secretary by a vote of 93 to 5. The installation of the new Pentagon chief comes on the same day that the President has asked Congress for the authority to formally authorize (and increase) military action by the US against the

January 30, 2015

Pell Grant Levels Announced

The Department of Education announced the maximum Pell grant levels for 2015-2016 today. The agency said the maximum award amount will be $5,775, which is an increase of $45 over the 2014-2015 award maximum. The amount is affected by the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which was incorporated as part of Public Law 111-152.

January 28, 2015

President Obama Drops Controversial 529 Plan

President Obama has officially dropped the proposal outlined in his recent State of the Union Address that would eliminate the tax advantage of 529 investment programs after facing severe push-back from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and parents across the country. Per the proposal, any money earned from future contributions to 529 college

January 20, 2015

State of The Union

Tonight at 9 pm Eastern, 6 pm Pacific, President Obama is scheduled to give his 6th State of the Union address to Congress. The White House has been previewing certain initiatives, such as two years of free community college and paid sick leave, in advance of the speech tonight. Tonight, however, the crux of his speech is

January 15, 2015

House Passes DHS Appropriations and Raises Immigration Stakes

The House adjourned yesterday for the annual Republican retreat. But before they left, the House took steps to block major provisions of the president’s immigration policy announced in November of 2014. As an amendment to legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY15, the House passed a series of amendments effectively blocking Obama’s executive action to shield millions

January 9, 2015

White House Proposes Two Years of Free Community College

In advance of his State of the Union address, President Obama is traveling to Tennessee today to announce one of his keystones of his 2015 agenda: two free years of community college.  The proposal, called America’s College Promise, is based on Republican Governor Bill Haslam, who developed and launched Tennessee Promise, which begins this year. Tennessee Promise allows any

January 6, 2015

To Do List for Congress in 2015

As the 114th Congress convenes, House and Senate leadership are facing a challenging timeline of To Dos or Must Dos in 2015. The House and Senate Republican leadership have announced their intentions to pass legislation to allow for the Keystone XL pipeline, reform our patent system, and overhaul the nation’s tax structure. However, any number of

December 19, 2014

Sine Die on the 113th Congress

The 113th Congress came to a close on Wednesday December 17th. The House and Senate adjourned Sine Die, the House on Friday, December 12 and the Senate on late Tuesday, December 16th, officially ending the 113th Congress.The 114th Congress will convene on January 6th, 2015. President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” spending bill Tuesday

December 17, 2014

New ARPA-E Director Confirmed by US Senate

Dr. Ellen Williams, the new Director of ARPA-E, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week and sworn in earlier today by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Prior to joining ARPA-E, Dr. Williams served as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy and previously served as the Chief Scientist for BP. She is currently on

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