January’s Congressional Wrap Up

2018-01-29T13:06:16+00:00 January 29, 2018|
(Credit: Architect of the capitol)

(Credit: Architect of the capitol)

What Passed

Last week, most federal work ceased for 70 hours due to Congress’s failure to pass a government funding bill. The newest continuing resolution (CR, P.L. 115-120) extends funding at near-fiscal year (FY) 2017 levels until midnight on February 8, giving Congress a few weeks to make progress on appropriations, another CR, and policy priorities that have become tangled in the process.

The Coordinated Ocean Monitoring and Research Act (S. 1425) passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The bill would reauthorize the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) program and prioritizes ocean acidification, hypoxia, and harmful algal blooms.

What’s New

A hot topic of conversation has been the president’s proposal to open almost all U.S. coastlines to offshore oil and gas exploration. This pitch was met with strong bipartisan opposition and led some members of Congress to introduce legislation to close shorelines of New England (S. 2298 and H.R. 4774) and Florida (S. 2292 and H.R. 4770) to drilling and exploration. Additionally, a bill for increased regulations on petroleum pipelines crossing the Great Lakes (H.R. 4787) was introduced.

A new resolution (H.Res. 683) in the House would recognize January as National Mentoring Month. Many accomplished scientists attribute quality mentorship to their success. With the need to expand the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce and increase its diversity, mentoring could be a useful tool.

What’s Next

To pass the CR, Republicans agreed to work with Democrats on boarder security and immigration, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which had become enmeshed in the funding bill. It is likely that these issues will need to be adequately addressed to avoid a second shutdown on February 8. As mentioned last month, Congress still needs to pass fiscal year (FY) 2018 appropriations, raise budget caps, and plan for the fast approaching debt ceiling—all while the FY 2019 budget release is fast approaching.

 Related coverage from the Consortium For Ocean Leadership:

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