Congressional news

During this week’s House State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on the administration’s FY2018 budget request for the Department of State, Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent (R) voiced his strong support for educational and cultural exchange programs and expressed concern about the 55% cut to exchange program funding proposed by the Trump administration for FY2018.

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Educational and cultural exchange programs were mentioned twice during a hearing of the Senate State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) Appropriations Subcommittee this week. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared before the committee to review the administration’s FY2018 budget request for the U.S. Department of State.

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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.

Please see below for more details on the Committee Report:

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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”.

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