DC Digest - January 22, 2010
In Today's Issue:
- Obama State of the Union Set for January 27, Budget February 1
- G.O.P. Win in Massachusetts May Complicate Student Loan Progress
- Duke Officials See Changes After First Year of Obama Administration
OBAMA STATE OF THE UNION SET FOR JANUARY 27, BUDGET FEBRUARY 1
The White House said on Monday that Obama would give his 2010 State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, an annual rite of U.S. politics, at 9 p.m. EST on January 27 (0200 GMT Jan 28). Five days later, he will unveil his proposed federal budget for fiscal 2011 (which begins October 1), a senior administration official said.
In a televised speech to the American public, Obama will have a chance to outline his policy priorities, from combating double-digit unemployment to overhauling healthcare, and try to boost his sagging job approval rating. His performance could also lay the groundwork for his Democratic party's bid to keep control of Congress in the November mid-term elections. The address is also typically a preview of the policies and themes that will appear in the presidential budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
On Tuesday, the administration announced that the president intends to seek $1.35 billion to extend the competitive "Race to the Top" public school reform initiative as part of his budget proposal. These funds would be on top of the $4.35 billion for the initiative included in the $787 billion economic stimulus plan passed last year.
Obama State of the Union Set for Jan 27, Budget Feb 1 (Reuters)
President Obama to Announce Plans for "Race to the Top" Expansion(WhiteHouse.gov)
G.O.P. WIN IN MASSACHUSETTS MAY COMPLICATE STUDENT LOAN PROGRESS
The path to getting President Obama’s proposal to overhaul the federal student loan programs through Congress may have just gotten a whole lot more complicated.
Members of Congress returning from their long holiday recess found the political landscape in Washington greatly altered by the stunning results of the special election in Massachusetts to fill the Senate seat previously held by Edward Kennedy, who died in August. The election of Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown (R) eliminated the Democrats' super-majority in the Senate, giving Republicans a critical 41st vote and the ability to block legislation by filibuster.
This means key elements of President Obama's agenda are now in limbo, particularly his top priority, restructuring the nation's health care system. This uncertainty also directly impacts an issue greatly important to the higher education community—the reform of the federal student loan system and related increases in need-based student aid.
The Senate approved a health care bill—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590)—on Dec. 24, following House passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) on Nov. 16. The two bills—approved along strict party lines—have substantial differences, and House and Senate conferees started working to reconcile them in early January. However, the results of the Massachusetts special election have stopped this process cold and forced the Democratic leadership to rethink its strategy.
Because one of the possible scenarios for moving forward on health care reform involves combining it with the president's student loan legislation in a single reconciliation bill, the deadlock over health care has prevented the Senate from acting on the president's higher education legislation until a clear course of action can be formulated.
The Day After: G.O.P. Win in Massachusetts May Complicate Student Loan Fight (New America Foundation)
DUKE OFFICIALS SEE CHANGES AFTER FIRST YEAR OF OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
Exactly one year has passed since Barack Obama moved into the White House, and Duke University officials say the year has brought welcome boosts in federal support for campus research and student aid. From the stimulus package to federal appointees, many of the Obama Administration's actions have had an impact on campus, and officials expect to see more changes in the coming year.
Duke Officials See Changes After First Year of Obama Administration (Duke News)