WASHINGTON -- Congress passed legislation Wednesday night to re-open the federal government and increase the nation’s borrowing authority to avoid a default on its obligations.
Lawmakers voted to fund the government at the same level as this year through mid-January, ending a 16-day shutdown that, among other things, halted military tuition assistance and stalled a wide range of academic research.
But the measure keeps intact the automatic government spending cuts for the current fiscal year, known as sequestration, at least through January 15. Higher education advocates have blasted those cuts as detrimental to scientific research. The cuts, which took effect in March, have already reduced federal research funding by billions of dollars and prompted universities to lay off researchers and close laboratories.
Funding levels for federal research and federal student aid programs will be at stake in the budget negotiations between the House and Senate this fall, which will occur because of the deal reached Wednesday night. Those negotiations, which are also aimed at producing a long-term agreement to reduce the budget deficit, will be led by Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.