Government Relations aims to keep the Rice community informed about the developments that affect the university's mission. Visit our site frequently for updates on the key issues at the local, state and federal levels.
Congress has adjourned for the summer recess and will return Sept. 9 for a nine-day session to deal with a lot of unfinished business. History will be repeating itself as September is filled with looming deadlines. Congress will need to pass a funding bill by Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown. Later this fall, Congress also will need to pass an increase in the debt limit to prevent a default. Other important issues that will compete for limited floor, committee and debate time include comprehensive immigration reform, a defense authorization, the farm bill, corporate tax reform, all 12 appropriations bills and a handful of other items.
Putting partisanship temporarily aside, Congress agreed on an appropriations measure to keep government operating through the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30, but also reaffirming the sequestration spending cuts. Congress returned from Easter recess April 8 to receive President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget proposal. Over the recess President Barack Obama laid the groundwork for issues he planned to push during the April session, led by gun control and immigration reform. The Supreme Court also heard oral arguments on two same-sex marriage cases. Meanwhile, Rice continues to get better acquainted with its new alumnus in Congress, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., as well as building stronger ties with the Texas delegation and others.
The 112th Congress adjourned earlier this month after reaching a deal on the fiscal cliff, and the 113th Congress has already begun. While the debt ceiling and sequestration fights have both been temporarily postponed, these deadlines still loom in the upcoming agenda.
The 2013 Texas legislative session has also kicked off its 140 day sprint. This group of lawmakers has been described as one of the youngest in recent state history, with 41 freshmen and 25 sophomores sworn into the House of Representatives.
The Rice campus has been busy preparing for the Centennial celebration. To celebrate Rice’s 100-year anniversary, we are inviting friends and community members to join us October 10-14 for various events. In the meantime, we continue to focus on the upcoming elections. The president and majority control of the U.S. Senate and House are at stake this November. In Texas, it appears the Republican majorities in the state House and Senate are not in any serious jeopardy.
While the Rice campus is bustling with activity now that students have returned, Congress has left town after passing a continuing resolution that keeps the federal government funded. With the Republican and Democratic conventions behind us, all focus has turned to the presidential debates and the upcoming election. Before leaving, Congress did not address any of the major funding issues like sequestration, expiring tax cuts or deficit reduction. Failing to address any of these major items before the new Congress convenes in 2013 is pushing the country to what pundits are calling the fiscal cliff.
Since the start of the year, there has been a lot of activity in both Washington, D.C., and Austin, TX. Earlier this year the president gave his State of the Union speech, which focused attention on the cost of higher education – a theme we expect to be repeated frequently over the coming campaign cycle. Following his speech, the president also unveiled his fiscal year 2013 (FY13) budget, which fires the starting gun for Congress to begin its work. The president’s budget is just a wish list and a framework, and Congress will now work over the next six weeks to set its budget priorities. This will then allow for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to begin work on passing the 12 bills that will fund the government.