Policy Update: March 21, 2011

Continuing Resolution

On March 17, 2011, Congress passed H.J.Res. 48, the sixth Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund federal agencies in FY 11 through April 8. The vote in the Senate was 87-13. The House passed the CR by a 271-158 vote, with 54 Republicans opposing the measure. The CR includes $6 billion in cuts from the FY 2010 levels through program terminations/reductions and the elimination of earmarks. Fortunately, most of these cuts did not impact research and financial aid, but we fear those cuts could be coming.

Long-Term Budget

The White House and leaders from both parties will continue negotiations on a long-termn spending plan during the congressional recess, but it will be very difficult for both sides to reach a compromise. Most Republicans are supporting the House-passed bill (HR 1) that would cut roughly $58 billion through the remainder of the year. However, last week, the Senate rejected that measure, with Democrats united in their opposition. At the same time, neither party wants to be blamed for a government shut down if one should occur, so they are motivate to try to find a solution. Both sides will have a hard time reigning in more ardent members of their parties for a compromise to be found.

Government Relations has been making the case in Washington with our Massachusetts delegation and others about the importance of research funding, financial aid and urban engagement programs. We have urged Congress to maintain its investment in these vital programs that benefit our students and faculty directly.