Congressional news

The Senate State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee funded educational and cultural exchange programs at $625 million for FY 2013, $38 million above the President’s FY13 request and $26.2 million above the final FY 2012 appropriation for exchanges of $598.8 million.

While some of the statistics were grim (e.g., only 8 per cent of U.S. undergraduates study a foreign language, half of what it was in 1965), hope for the future was abundant as students, teachers, and international education leaders testified yesterday at a hearing titled “A National Security Crisis: Foreign Language Capabilities in the Federal Government.” That hopefulness seemed to culminate with the testimony of Shauna Kaplan, a 5th grader at Providence Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia, who confidently spoke to hearing chair Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) in Chinese and neatly offered a call to action by proclaiming, in her second language:

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Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) plan to introduce a bill this week that would create a new visa category for international graduate students seeking U.S. degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (the STEM fields), CQ.com reports (subscribers only). Once these students graduate and get a job, they would automatically be eligible for green cards granting them permanent resident status and, later, the chance to become a citizen:

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is expected to unveil legislation this week to address “demands from high-tech companies for a relaxation of restrictions on foreign graduate students and technicians,” CQ.com reports (subscribers only). Cornyn’s bill may draw from several bi-partisan measures that have already been proposed:

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The House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee funded educational and cultural exchange programs at $586.957 million for FY 2013, exactly even with the President’s FY13 request and approximately 2 per cent below the final FY 2012 appropriation for exchanges of $598.8 million.

The House Appropriations State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee (which funds State Department exchange programs) will consider funding for FY 2013 as early as next week, with the Senate subcommittee to follow soon after. While the Senate has proposed nearly level funding for international affairs programs, the House is threatening to cut them by 9.4 per cent.

We need to generate as many letters from constituents as possible, asking your members of Congress to support level funding for Department of State exchange programs at $598.8 million in FY 13.

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The House Appropriations committee today approved by a 28-21 vote its FY 13 allocations for the 12 appropriations bills, CQ.com reports. State-Foreign Operations, which includes Department of State exchange programs, would be funded at $48.3 billion, consisting of $40.1 billion in base funding and $8.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

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At the markup of the 302(b) allocations for FY13, the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved an allocation of $53 billion for State-Foreign Operations, which includes Department of State exchange programs. This allocation consists of $49.8 billion in base funding and $3.2 billion in funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

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Public diplomacy programs, including exchanges, are “a critical and indispensible component” of U.S. foreign policy and U.S. relations with China, Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) stated at a recent hearing examining “The Price of Public Diplomacy with China.”

During his opening remarks at this gathering of the House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Rep. Carnahan said:

On Alliance Advocacy Day, Nancy Neill, vice president of the Fulbright Association, walked into the office of Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), armed with her status as a constituent and an Alliance position paper on maintaining robust funding for State Department exchanges. She walked out with something else: a commitment from Rep. Johnson’s office to lead a Congressional sign-on letter supporting exchange funding.

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