Today on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives approved a $410 billion omnibus spending bill for the remainder of fiscal year ‘09. It was not without some controversy, with Republican leaders urging President Obama to veto the bill. House Members voted 245-178 for the package, which includes significant increases in spending on a range of domestic programs, including education, health care, and energy. Additionally, the bill contains funding for a handful of UW-specific projects, including:
$469,000 for the Center for International Trade in Forest Products or CINTRAFOR (College of Forestry)
The USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) account within the Department of Agriculture supports CINTRAFOR at UW and the International Marketing Program for Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPPACT) program at Washington State University. The funds will be split between the two universities.
$475,750 for Biofuels Research and Development Infrastructure (College of Forestry)
This funding will likely support the purchase of a major piece of equipment necessary to convert biomass into fuel.
$333,000 for the UW Bothell Nursing Faculty Consortium
This funding was requested to continue the UW’s efforts to increase the number of master’s prepared nursing faculty available to teach in Washington’s community and technical colleges.
The bill, which now goes to the Senate, also prevents a cost-of-living increase for Members of Congress. The Senate will begin debate on the bill this week but it is not likely that they will vote until sometime next week. President Obama is expected to sign the bill.
Last night, President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to give a preview of his first budget request. While it was short on actual numbers, the President did pledge to seek cuts in certain defense, farm, and education programs and root out waste in government spending. He further said that his administration has already identified nearly $2 trillion dollars in savings over the next decade through cuts to programs that they consider wasteful and ineffective. Obama is expected to release an outline of his first budget request on Thursday. We expect that this will provide broad budget numbers at the agency level but not a lot of detail for individual programs. It will, however, provide us with a glimpse of how the administration will begin to increase – or decrease – funding for certain programs. The Office of Federal Relations will look for those items that might affect the UW, including those affecting education and research programs.
The $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill may pass the House of Representatives as early as this Wednesday and in the following few days in the Senate. The higher education community was successful in its advocacy for increases in some agencies and programs of critical importance. Additionally, UW was successful in securing support for congressionally directed appropriations for high priority campus projects in the FY09 cycle. The government is faced with a March 6th deadline to complete work on the omnibus, as the continuing resolution — that is currently funding the government at FY2008 levels — expires at that point. (more…)
Mary Wakefield, Director of the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota, has been selected by President Obama to head the Health Resources and Services Administration. HRSA is the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable. The agency will administer $2.5 billion allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for health care infrastructure and to train health care professionals.
The Pacific Northwest may see one of it’s own join the Obama Administration. The media is reporting this afternoon that former Governor Gary Locke is being vetted for the position of Commerce Secretary. This would be good news for the UW and the region! Stay tuned for more.
Full Seattle Times article
Several federal agencies are working quickly to develop spending plans for funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Last week, NIH provided a sketch of its planned use of $10.4 billion in Recovery Act spending (details provided under the Federal Agency Developments link). Additionally, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a reorganization of the Department of Energy that will lead to expedited disbursement of agency funding. The Department of Education and National Science Foundations are expected to release their spending plans in the coming days -possibly this week. The Department of Education has prepared a website with initial information on its portion of Recovery Act funding.
The House and Senate will likely advance the remaining 9 fiscal year 2009 spending bills this week, as part of an omnibus appropriations package that will fund much of the government through September 30, 2009. Only 3 of 12 appropriations bills have been completed to date: defense, homeland security, and veterans affairs. At an earlier stage of the FY09 appropriations process, former President George W. Bush indicated that he would veto spending bills that exceeded his domestic discretionary spending caps. As a result, in order to advance desired increases, Congress decided to wait for a new administration to take office in order to closeout the FY09 appropriations process. The omnibus appropriations bill will contain an estimated $410 billion in spending for mostly domestic programs.
Congressional aides have indicated that the omnibus FY09 appropriations bill is not likely to contain significant changes from the draft created during the 110th (last) Congress. The omnibus package will increase government spending approximately 6.7% over the FY08 budget. For a recap of key health and education funding levels in the draft FY09 appropriations bills, see the budget section of this website or contact Jonathan in the UW Office of Federal Relations. The Office of Federal Relations will repost key FY09 appropriations figures as bill moves towards finalization. In a Tuesday speech to a joint-session of Congress and the nation, President Obama will provide some details on his FY10 budget request, which will be presented in outline form later this week and in full in the spring.
The House Appropriations Committee has released fact sheets on each of the remaining 9 FY09 spending bills (see below):
Omnibus FY09 Appropriations Bill (Conference Agreement)
Energy and Water Appropriations
Financial Services Appropriations
Interior and the Environment Appropriations
Legislative Branch Appropriations
State and Foreign Operations Appropriations
Transportation/Housing and Urban Development Appropriations
The Senate reconvenes Monday for a reading of President George Washington’s farewell address. Freshman Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., will do the reading.
On Tuesday, President Obama will address a joint session of Congress. The Senate will also consider the nomination of Rep. Hilda L. Solis , D-Calif., to be secretary of Labor.
For the remainder of the week the Senate is expected to work on a bill that would permanently expand the House to 437 members by adding one representative from the District of Columbia and one from Utah.
Later in the week, the House is scheduled to take up an omnibus fiscal 2009 appropriations package.
The chamber also might consider a bill that would mitigate foreclosures for homeowners filing for bankruptcy.
Below please find a link to estimated figures on funding to the state of Washington from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. According to the figures provided, the state of Washington will receive approximately $4.73 billion.
Recovery Act Funding for the State of Washington (click here)
Peter Orszag, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director, has issued guidance (see link below) to federal agency heads on how to implement use of funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The linked memorandum provides the first installment of government-wide guidance for carrying out programs and activities enacted in the legislation. As was explained by NIH Acting Director Raynard King in a briefing yesterday, the memo states that an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability will be required of those receiving funds from the Recovery Act.
The OMB guidance issued yesterday contains action steps that federal agencies must take immediately in order to meet these objectives and to implement the Act effectively. Of particular note, the guidance addresses federal agency requirements to provide spending and performance data to the “Recovery.gov” website. The guidance establishes requirements for various aspects of Recovery Act planning and implementation. These requirements are intended to meet accountability objectives:
- Funds are awarded and distributed in a prompt, fair, and reasonable manner;
- The recipients and uses of all funds are transparent to the public, and the benefits to the public are reported clearly, accurately, and in a timely manner;
- Funds are used for authorized purposes and instances of fraud, waste, error, and abuse are mitigated;
- Projects funded under this Act avoid unnecessary delays and cost overruns; and
- Program goals are achieved, including specific program outcomes and improved results on broader economic indicators.
Additional guidance providing further detail and covering a fuller range of items will be issued within the next 30-60 days. As individual agencies issue implementation guidance, the UW Office of Federal Relations will post details to this website.
OMB Recovery Act Guidance to Federal Agencies (click here)