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House Passes Omnibus, FY22 Chart Now Available

Yesterday the House passed an omnibus appropriations package for FY22, following negotiations between House and Senate appropriators. The final package includes modest increases for key scientific and higher education accounts. The Senate is expected to vote on the package quickly to send it to the President’s desk. Current government funding is set to expire on Friday, so another short continuing resolution will be necessary to allow the Senate to clear procedural steps.

A chart tracking key accounts relevant to UW is available here. Our office will post detailed updates as information becomes available. We will also discuss appropriations in more detail during our town hall on March 24th at noon PT (register here).

UW President’s Statement on Violence at the US Capitol

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce released the below blog post following yesterday’s events in Washington, DC. You can read her blog here.

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Misinformation, disinformation and the assault on democracy

Ana Mari Cauce

The peaceful transition of power based on the results of our electoral process, whether we like those results or not, is the cornerstone of representative government.

That’s what makes today’s insurrection at the United States Capitol so outrageous. As U.S. senators and representatives counted the Electoral College votes, extremists stormed the Capitol. While holding American flags, they undermined the very values and ideals the flag stands for by forcing elected officials to stop the electoral counting process and go into hiding, as the insurrectionists broke into congressional offices and the House and Senate chambers.

This is appalling. But sadly, it is the result of months and years of lies and misinformation spread too often by others in positions of power. As Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican and Air Force veteran, said of today’s attack, “When you don’t tell people the truth, you end up getting people to believe the conspiracies and the false proof, and you get Capitol storms like the one today.”

As a University, we are dedicated to the pursuit of the truth – no matter how uncomfortable that truth is, or what power structures or belief systems it challenges. Our Center for an Informed Public and countless faculty across the UW are advancing truth around issues ranging from the election and the coronavirus to the continuing scourge of racial inequities. Our duty in pursuing truth is to serve all members of our society by shedding light on reality, rationality and possibility.

A second major responsibility we have in higher education is to provide students not only with the knowledge and credentials to get good jobs, but also with the intellectual tools and ethical values that will allow them to constructively carry out their civic duties and obligations. And while our students will pursue their paths in a society where we may not always agree on solutions, it is crucial they be part of encouraging our society to again embrace a shared commitment to facts, rational discourse, and respect for intellectual and scientific pursuits.

We must denounce violent extremism and condemn this “assault on the citadel of liberty” and the continued assault on our democracy. It is long past time to acknowledge the results of our free and fair election so that we can tackle the immense challenges we face, which can only be overcome through shared action.

I took my oath as a U.S. citizen at the age of 18, well aware that our country has too often not lived up to its ideals, but with a sincere belief in its promise. Despite all our challenges, I still believe in that promise – and that we all have a role to play in making it real.

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Joe Biden Elected President

After several days of post-election vote tabulation, Joe Biden is President-elect of the United States of America. Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be Vice President-elect.

Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes went to Joe Biden according to CNN, NBC, Fox, and AP, giving him 273 electoral votes even without the uncalled states Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.

SCOTUS Hears DACA Today

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will hear oral arguments for Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California (18-587). Consolidated with similar cases, the Court will hear arguments related to the Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Considered one of the major cases of this term, the arguments before the justices will concern two key issues;

  1. Whether the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy is judicially reviewable; and
  2. Whether DHS’s decision to wind down the DACA policy is lawful.

While the Court will hear arguments today, a decision is not expected until the Spring of 2020. To hear the oral arguments, SCOTUS posts the audio file each Friday following the arguments. The audio may be accessed here.

For a deep dive round up of how the case might be argued and rule, the SCOTUS blog has a round up here.

Federal Relations is monitoring the progress of the case and the federal responses on DACA closely and will continue to provide updates.

EPA Administrator Resigns

President Donald Trump tweeted today that he has accepted the resignation of EPA chief Scott Pruitt. Pruitt had been the subject of numerous ethics investigations involving his travel, spending, use of staff, and favors by industry lobbyists.

The agency’s Deputy Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, will act as the agency’s leader until a new administrator is nominated by Mr. Trump and confirmed by the Senate.

Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence Testifies in Congress

Today Dr. Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and UW Professor of Computer Science, was invited by the subcommittee chair to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology in the first of two committee meetings slated to discuss the future of artificial intelligence. Dr. Etzioni was joined by experts from Intel, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and NVIDIA. Check out the hearing on YouTube.

 

 

House Votes Cancelled

Early this morning, Republican Members of Congress were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball game on a practice field in Del Ray, VA — a suburb of Washington, DC.

Members, staff, and Capitol Police were injured. The story is evolving.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the those injured and the Capitol Hill family.

Read more at Politico and The Washington Post.

Trump Issues Memos on TPP, Federal Hiring Freeze, and US Foreign Aid

President Donald Trump signed three presidential memos on Monday freezing federal hiring, withdrawing the US from the TPP, and banning US foreign aid from performing or promoting abortions.

First, President Donald Trump moved Monday to make good on a campaign promise to shrink the size of the federal government, issuing a memo to freeze federal hiring. The military was exempted from the memo’s constraints.

Second, President Trump issued a memo to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The move fulfills one of Trump’s signature campaign pledges to get out of the sweeping 12-nation trade deal, which he once called “a rape of our country” and said would hurt US jobs.

Third, President Trump issued a memo that calls for the reinstatement of a policy to prevent the recipients of American foreign aid from performing or promoting abortions. The action comes the day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The memo would prohibit NGOs that receive federal funding – including health care providers or organizations – from providing or promoting abortion or from advocating for abortion laws abroad.


On Friday, immediately following President Trump’s inauguration, Trump’s Chief of Staff, Reince Prebus, issued a Memoranda instructing the heads of federal departments and agencies to stop advancing regulations until Trump appointees are able to review them. The memo was issued by Priebus is typical when a new party takes the White House. The memo is in many ways identical to one that then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel sent on Jan. 20, 2009. 

Priebus’ memo made exceptions for emergency situations and other urgent health, safety, financial or national security matters allowed by the Office of Management and Budget. It also makes exceptions for regulations implemented to meet a statutory or judicial deadline. 

Impacts from that freeze are far reaching and include:

  •  The Housing and Urban Development Department suspended the mortgage insurance premium rate reduction scheduled to take effect later this month.
  • The Education Department rule to forgive student loans of borrowers if they were defrauded by their college could be delayed. The rule was finalized in October but would not go into effect until July. The department has also not finalized a proposed rule meant to increase state officials’ oversight of online college programs within their state. The department estimated the rule would affect 5.5 million students.
  • The Labor Department’s contentious fiduciary rule, opposed by Republicans, has been finalized but will not go into effect until April. It could be blocked by the memo. The rule would require retirement investment advisers to put the best interests of their clients before their own interests.
  • USDA has stalled a final rule published Thursday setting animal welfare standards for poultry and livestock. It was scheduled to take effect March 20, with portions phased in through 2018. The rule is meant to enable the Agriculture Department to certify products as organic. The proposal has divided the poultry industry, with some producers calling the requirements excessive and unnecessary.

More Confirmation Hearings, Republican Retreat

It’s a busy short week for Congress. House and Senate Republicans head to Philadelphia this week to begin sorting out fiscal priorities for the coming year in the party’s annual retreat. 

The retreat should lay out the first 100 days game plan for the Administration and Congressional Republicans and could lay the groundwork for setting fiscal priorities in the first year of the Trump Administration.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned Congress in a report last week that the country is headed toward a fiscal train wreck. That’s even before any new spending programs or tax cuts are considered. Soaring costs for entitlement programs, from an aging population and rising health care costs, will combine with increasing interest payments to push the federal debt to record levels, the GAO said.

Federal debt as a share of the economy reached 77 percent last year, compared to the historical average since World War II of 44 percent. Without a change in policy, the ratio will exceed its historic high of 106 percent within 15 to 25 years.


Also, welcome to the first week of Congress with President Trump in the White House. Congressional leaders from both parties will meet with the new president at the White House today for a 5 p.m. reception. 

The House will have a light week of mostly suspension bills. The only non-suspension bill the House will vote on next week is HR 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017.  The measure, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), would prohibit federal funds, including those provided to the District of Columbia, from being used for abortions or for health benefits that cover abortions. The House has voted on a version of the bill in prior years as part of Republicans’ sustained targeting of Planned Parenthood.

The Senate continues to work on the confirmation process. Senate Democrats are demanding paperwork and additional time to question the remaining nominees, but truly all they can do is slow down the process. Up this week are Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS),who is up for CIA director, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who is up for Secretary of HHS and will appear before Senate Finance for another chance to defend ACA repeal, and Rep. Mick Mulvany (R-SC), who is Trump’s pick for White House budget director. Rep. Mulvaney gets a full day on Tuesday at two confirmation hearings: a morning hearing by the Senate Budget Committee and an afternoon examination by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

 

Mattis Confirmed as SECDEF

Just hours after President Trump was sworn into office, the Senate on Friday confirmed two of his national security cabinet nominees.

The Senate confirmed retired Gen. James Mattis to run the Pentagon as Defense Secretary.

A four-star general who retired in 2013, Mattis required a waiver to take the top Pentagon job since he hasn’t been out of uniform for at least seven years.

Congress approved legislation exempting him from the requirement last week, and Trump signed it into law as one of his first acts as president.