Congressional news

After approval in both Chambers of Congress last week, President Barack Obama signed into law an FY 2017 continuing resolution (CR) that will keep the government funded until April 28, 2017, at the fiscal cap of $1.07 trillion, CQ.com reported. The legislation allocates a total of “$58.8 billion for the International Affairs Budget, an increase of $4.2 billion (8%) above FY16 levels”, according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

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For the first time in 14 years, Congress approved and sent to President Obama to be signed into law, a Department of State Authorization Act (S.1635), as announced in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) press release.

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U.S. Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) re-introduced the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act, a bipartisan legislation that would expand opportunities for students at U.S. colleges and universities to obtain study abroad experiences through the U.S. Department of Education.

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Commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays Programs, a congressional resolution introduced in the House of Representatives last week recognizes the value of these international research and training programs in promoting mutual understanding and global learning. The Fulbright-Hays Programs were created through the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act, or Fulbright-Hays Act, signed into law by President John F. Kennedy on September 21, 1961.

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The House of Representative’s Committee on Appropriations released the 2017 fiscal year report for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs. The Committee recommended a total of $602.79 million for Educational and Cultural Exchange programs. In total, the Committee recommendations for Academic programs totaled $311,441 million, while Professional and Cultural Exchanges totaled $208,240 million.

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Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY17 State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) spending bill, including State Department exchanges. The House SFOPS subcommittee also released a draft bill text in advance of the mark-up of its FY17 SFOPS spending bill tomorrow.

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A resolution introduced by Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and Congressman French Hill (R-AR) last week commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright Program. Since its inception in 1946, the renowned program has received wide recognition, boasting more than 370,000 alumni, including 82 Pulitzer Prize recipients, 54 Nobel Prize laureates, and 33 heads of state, according to the resolution.

A bipartisan resolution (H.R. 775), introduced by Congressmen Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX), recognizes the impact of Sister Cities International over the past 60 years and designates July 15, 2016 as “Sister Cities International Day”.

Exchange programs administered under the U.S. Department of State are being pushed to give special consideration to applicants from regions and populations susceptible to foreign manipulation, as stated in an amendment to the Senate's National Defense Authorization Act (S.2943).

To prevent possible reversals by the next president, the current administration is ramping up introductions of regulations ahead of the presidential elections later this year. 

According to Politico, 195 new regulations have been introduced since the beginning of the year. This pace of regulation is nearly one-third faster than during the Obama Administration’s previous three years.

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