Federal Update: Rep. Mark Green, congressional staff visit Vanderbilt; FY23 Omnibus highlights; TN delegation moves into committee leadership
This update from the Office of Federal Relations is part of ON THE HILL - Issue 10. ON THE HILL is a biannual report summarizing activity at all three levels of government, as outlined by representatives from our Offices of Federal Relations, State Government Relations and Local Government Relations.
Rep. Mark Green, congressional staff visit Vanderbilt
Rep. Green gets an in-depth, hands-on presentation of the lift-assist exosuit—one of the innovations that received support from the Army Futures Command Pathfinder partnership. (Vanderbilt University)
Rep. Green and his staff receive a briefing on CLACX and LAPOP alongside Provost C. Cybele Raver.
In early September, the Office of Federal Relations hosted Rep. Mark Green (R-TN07) and his chief of staff Stephen Siao, BA’12, on campus. The purpose of this visit was to connect the congressman to researchers and faculty on campus that are heavily involved with our partnership with the Army Futures Command and Pathfinder Program, given his military background and service on the House Armed Services Committee. Building on this, the visit also highlighted other ways Vanderbilt is engaging with Fort Campbell and veterans more broadly, both as an institution of higher education through the Bass Military Scholars Program and an employer of choice through SkillBridge and partnerships with organizations such as the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.
In addition, Rep. Green—who last year served as the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration and International Economic Policy—talked with Provost C. Cybele Raver and faculty involved in research and education related to Latin America, including through the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies and LAPOP.
Later in the fall, OFR also hosted several congressional staff on campus from the offices of Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty. Recent visits from congressional staff have included conversations about our School of Nursing’s efforts to address the nursing workforce crisis and train the next generation of faculty, a tour of VUSN’s Simulation Lab, a meeting with the Tennessee Education Research Alliance on Vanderbilt’s robust partnership with the state of Tennessee’s Department of Education, and an overview of projects funded by the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation dealing with classroom interventions around mathematics. Staff also had the opportunity to meet with researchers from the School of Engineering’s Institute for Software Integrated Systems and Institute for Space and Defense Electronics.
FY 2023 Omnibus Appropriations package includes increases for research, higher ed priorities
Just before Christmas, Congress passed the FY 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Act. Republicans used their leverage in the Senate and impending control over the House to negotiate larger overall increases in defense spending and smaller ones in nondefense spending than Democrats wanted, which led many funding proposals that Democratic appropriators had developed for science agencies to be pared back. Nonetheless, most agencies received increases keeping pace with inflation, and a few saw double-digit percentage increases. Although budget increases for NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and DOE Office of Science ended up falling well short of the ambitious authorization targets set in the CHIPS and Science Act, the new law did influence the outcome. Negotiators used a creative budget trick to include additional funding for some agencies to implement provisions in the act, including a $1 billion increase for NSF and $500 million for Department of Commerce/Economic Development Administration regional tech hubs. OFR advocated forcefully throughout the year for these important funding increases. The chart (below) includes details on these and VU’s other appropriations priorities.
FY 2023 Appropriations Chart
See also: Congress Wraps Up Science Budgets for Fiscal Year 2023 (Source: AIP FYI)
Tennessee delegation moves into committee leadership and new committees
With the start of the 118th Congress in January, members of the Tennessee congressional delegation have moved into more senior positions on top congressional committees. Most notably, Rep. Mark Green, VU’s new local representative, will chair the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann will chair the Energy-Water Development appropriations subcommittee. Rep. Diana Harshbarger has also been successful in her bid to join the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee which, among many other things, has jurisdiction over the National Institutes of Health, ARPA-H, and many of the college athletics issues. Rep. David Kustoff snagged an unusual opening on the powerful Ways and Means Committee last year, positioning him to influence tax and health care entitlement policy. Freshman Rep. Andy Ogles will join the Financial Services Committee. Sen. Marsha Blackburn is relinquishing her seat on the Armed Services Committee to join the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care and tax issues, while remaining on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation and Judiciary panels. Sen. Bill Hagerty’s assignments are also not changing and, importantly, he remains a member of the Appropriations Committee.
OFR hosts STEM Policy and Advocacy seminar
Nineteen Vanderbilt Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars joined the Office of Federal Relations team in Washington, D.C., for a two-day Federal STEM Policy and Advocacy seminar. (Vanderbilt University)
Over the Oct. 13–14 Fall Break, OFR hosted an event in Washington, D.C., that provided Vanderbilt graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in STEM an opportunity to learn how federal STEM policy is made and the role of advocacy by various stakeholders in achieving policy goals. For STEM students and postdocs thinking about careers in public policy, this behind-the-scenes look provided insights into potential career opportunities. Participants heard from officials—including some VU alumni—working in the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as scientific societies, associations and private industry, who are actively engaged in influencing and promoting federal investments in science and engineering. This year’s event featured a keynote address by Tara Schwetz, acting principal deputy director of NIH and a former Vanderbilt postdoc. This is the fifth time OFR has hosted this event in Washington, D.C.; virtual seminars were held in 2020 and 2021. Partners in the seminar included the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Office of Federal Relations, the Vanderbilt Graduate School , the BRET Office of Career Development ASPIRE Program, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Russell G. Hamilton Graduate Leadership Institute, and the Vanderbilt University Career Center.
VU, VUMC recognize Rep. Jim Cooper
In partnership with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, OFR led a joint thank you advertisement in The Tennessean in early January to honor now-former Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN05) and his many years of public service, wishing him all the best in his next endeavor.
Staying in touch with OFR
Stay in touch with OFR by signing up for our newsletter. DCbrief —published nearly every day when Congress is in session—provides concise summaries of news items to inform Vanderbilt faculty and staff of federal policy developments that impact the university and the broader research and higher education communities. To sign up, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and “DCbrief” in the subject line.
OFR-hosted events are also broadcast to our DCbrief subscribers. For example, the office hosts in-person and virtual forums for our campus-based partners on specific, relevant and timely federal policy topics. OFR resumed in-person Federal Forums last fall with a session on the recently enacted CHIPS and Science Act, a major new law aimed at supporting the domestic semiconductor manufacturing environment and science agencies such as NSF and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
Federal Relations Team
Associate Vice Chancellor for Federal Relations
Assistant Director of Federal Relations
Project Manager, Executive Projects