Congressional news

The House of Representatives recently cleared, and the President signed into law, S. 1487, a business travel bill that “would provide a seven-year authorization for the secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the secretary of State, to establish a program to issue Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards,” CQ.com reported.

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At an event last week hosted by NAFSA: Association of International Educators and Goucher College, honorary co-host Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and colleague Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) both underlined the importance of international education and study abroad for American students.

Five former Secretaries of State called on members of Congress to support “a strong and effective International Affairs Budget” in a letter published by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) earlier this week.

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We understand that a Senate floor battle is looming on foreign affairs spending.  The State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill, in which exchanges are funded, is expected to come to the Senate floor in the next few days.  As you know, the Senate appropriation for Department of State exchange programs in FY 2012 ($612 million) is far higher than that of the House ($538 million). Successful amendments that strip funds from the bill will put Senate appropriators at a lower starting point in their negotiations with House appropriators in the final draft of the legislation.

Two key appropriations activities are happening in Washington right now:

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), chairs of the Senate Tourism Caucus, introduced on Tuesday a bill to boost U.S. tourism and “jolt” the U.S. economy, The Hill reported. The bill would speed up the wait for visas for international travelers to enter the United States, a move the senators said would “help the economy as growth and job creation stagnates.”

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed HR 2608, a continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the federal government through November 18, CQ.com reported.

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Representative John Lewis (D-GA) introduced last week H.R. 3056, a bill "to authorize the Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative focusing on peace and nonviolence in global conflict resolution, and for other purposes."

In a quick pro forma session last Thursday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that will keep the federal government operating through tomorrow, October 4, CQ.com reported. The Senate had passed the bill by voice vote last Monday. 

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The Senate Appropriations Committee approved yesterday the FY 2012 Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Bill. Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs received $612 million in this bill, $13.2 million above the FY 11 level and $25.1 million below the FY 12 President's request.

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