Federal Relations

By Cynthia Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU

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Resolving the Government Shutdown Through DACA?
Newly-elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), met with President Trump during the second week of January to negotiate a resolution to end the shutdown of the Federal government. Unfortunately, that was not successful and now one quarter of the government remains closed. Federal employees and contractors are now in the second month of furloughs and have not been paid since December.

Extending the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has recently become part of the discussions on ways to end the shutdown. Over the weekend, President Trump offered a three-year extension of DACA in exchange for $5.7 billion to fund a wall that would separate Mexico from the United States at the Southern border. This proposal was rejected by the Democrats, who do not support building a wall and do not want to minimize DACA regulations to a three-year temporary extension. House Democrats want the Federal government to open first, and then engage in debate on border security. It would be of comfort to the nation’s Dreamers to have some resolution; AJCU will continue to work on extending DACA protections for them.

On the Senate side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will offer President Trump’s proposal for consideration. Seven Democratic Senators will be needed to pass the bill on the Senate Floor. On the House side, members are working on separate appropriations bills to fund the departments and agencies that are currently shut down. It remains to be seen if any of these efforts will be successful. Regular business for Congress (including consideration of the budget for FY20 and hearings in both chambers), remains halted due to the government shutdown.

Jesuit Alumni in the 116th U.S. Congress
Ten percent of the 116th U.S. Congress are alumni of Jesuit colleges and universities; this is the same percentage as it was in the 115th U.S. Congress. Seven new members were elected this past November: Representatives Gil Cisneros (D-CA, M.B.A. Regis University, 2002); Greg Pence (R-IN, B.A. Loyola University Chicago, 1979; M.B.A. Loyola University Chicago, 1983); Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ, J.D. Georgetown University, 2007); Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM, B.A. Georgetown University, 2007); Greg Stanton (D-AZ, B.A. Marquette University, 1992); Bryan Steil (R-WI, B.S. Georgetown University, 2003); and Lori Trahan (D-MA, B.A. Georgetown University, 1995).

Two Jesuit alumni will head powerful House Committees: Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), a Boston College alumnus, will chair the House Education and Labor Committee, and Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), a Fordham alumnus, will chair the House Judiciary Committee. For further information on Jesuit alumni in the 116th U.S. Congress, please click here.

Remembering Fr. Charlie Currie, S.J.
Fr. Charlie Currie, S.J., who passed away on January 4, will always be remembered as the consummate politician who loved working with members of Congress and the various Administrations to secure access for poor students to attend college. His happy, gregarious smile was infectious. He spoke at many a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol to raise awareness of the need for Pell grant funding. He believed that Jesuit institutions could lead the effort in distance education; we did just that through the creation of JesuitNET, the Jesuit distance education network. Fr. Currie’s tireless efforts were always an inspiration. How lucky we all were to have had him in our lives at AJCU.