Congressional news

Lawmakers completed yesterday an omnibus spending package for the remainder of FY14 that funds State Department exchange programs at $568.628 million – $560 million in base funds and $8.628 million in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. The exchanges allocation is slightly higher than President Obama’s FY14 request of $562.7 million. Here’s how the allocation figures into the full and complicated picture of the past year and a half:

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The Senate passed the FY14 and FY15 budget agreement negotiated by Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) yesterday, following the House’s passage of the bill last week. According to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), President Obama is expected to sign the budget measure into law today.

Passage of the budget agreement now allows House and Senate appropriators to work on their final FY 14 budget allocations before the Continuing Resolution (CR) currently funding the federal government expires on January 15.

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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) yesterday approved by voice vote President Obama’s nomination of Richard Stengel to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Stengel, the former managing editor of Time magazine, is now awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.

The recent elimination of the Title VIII program, a federal grants program that supports research on Russia as well as language study, could potentially cause significant harm to Russian studies, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, citing the concerns of scholars in the field.

Richard Stengel, former Managing Editor of Time magazine and President Obama’s nominee for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) this coming Thursday for his confirmation hearing.

Committee chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) will preside over the hearing, which will be held at 10:30 am in room 419 of the Senate Dirksen building.

A live webcast will be available here.

Despite the recent brawl over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling, the issue of a comprehensive immigration reform “will not disappear,” a recent Washington Post editorial argues, adding that House Republicans, could break the current impasse. 

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The House approved earlier this week its FY14 Department of State Operations and Embassy Security Authorization Act (H.R. 2848), which authorizes expenditures for a total of 15 accounts within the International Affairs Budget. If enacted, this authorization bill would be the first Department of State authorization passed by Congress in more than ten years.

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While the government shutdown that went into effect October 1 may not have widespread short-term impact on programs funded through the State Department’s International Affairs Account, “major disruption could occur if the closure continues for a prolonged period of time,” the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) reports.

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The U.S. government is on the verge of shutting down at midnight tonight, various news sources including CQ.com, the Washington Post and the New York Times report.

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President Obama nominated yesterday Richard Stengel, Managing Editor of Time magazine, to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, according to a White House press announcement.

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