Monday, November 24, 2008

Federal updates- lame duck session, inauguration

Federal Update

Lawmakers return for lame duck session

Congress returned to Washington this week for a lame duck session to pass an auto industry bailout package. Democratic leaders, however, put the bailout package on hold yesterday while the auto industry provides more of a business plan. Congressional leaders said they will return to Washington early December to review the plan, and said Congress would return on December 8 to consider a proposal to help the auto industry. According to The Hill, efforts by the three auto companies to get help from Congress this week seemed to backfire when lawmakers learned the auto company executives had traveled to Washington on corporate jets. Democratic leaders called the chief executives “arrogant” for demanding a taxpayer-funded rescue while traveling in style.

Also this week, Democrats and Republicans in both chambers conducted leadership elections and organized in advance of the 111th Congress. Anticipated in the early stages of the 111th Congress is the passing of the fiscal year 2009 appropriation bills, including the Labor-HHS-Education bill. Currently, the federal government is being funded under a continuing resolution which runs until early March.

The 2008 Elections: Implications for State Colleges and Universities

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities has prepared a briefing entitled, “The 2008 Elections: Implications for State Colleges and Universities,” which can be found at This briefing gives context to the 2008 elections and details how the outcomes may affect American higher education. The analysis discusses the impact a Congressional majority and President-Elect Barack Obama's higher education platform may have on federal post-secondary education policy and reviews the changing landscape in state legislatures.

Congressional Timeline

  • November 16, 2008 - Begin orientation for incoming House freshmen
  • November 17, 2008 - Congress returns for a week long “lame-duck” session and hold leadership elections
  • December 8, 2008 - Congress potentially returns to take up auto industry bailout package
  • January 3, 2009 - Terms of members of the 111th Congress commence (as written in the Constitution)
  • January 6, 2009 - 111th Congress convenes and new Members are sworn in
  • January 20, 2009 - Inauguration Day
  • February 2, 2009 - President submits his budget to Congress (by law it is required by the first Monday in February each year).

President-Elect Obama Transition

President-Elect Barack Obama has been busy putting together his transition team and office, which will be located near Judiciary Square in downtown Washington, D.C. The new official transition website,, is available with information regarding the new administration appointments and the presidential agenda. There has been much speculation regarding appointments within the new administration, with Minnesota’s own Congressman Peterson, Congressman Oberstar, and Congresswoman McCollum among the many names being floated for top Department posts. For more information regarding the approximately 3,000 political positions in the new Administration, the Government Printing Office has just released the 2008 Plum Book in print and PDF which can be accessed at


General information on Inauguration Day events can be obtained from the website for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies at Tickets to the Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony are free to the public but only available from members of Congress. To request tickets, you may call your Representative’s office at the numbers listed below and provide your name, home address and telephone number, and the number of tickets you would like. Due to limited quantities, it is advised to put in your request as soon as possible.

  • Congressman Tim Walz, District 1 - (202) 225-2472
  • Congressman John Kline, District 2 - (202) 225-2271
  • Congressman-elect Eric Paulsen, District 3 - (952) 934-8999
  • Congresswoman Betty McCollum, District 4 - (202) 225-6631
  • Congressman Keith Ellison, District 5 - (202) 225-4755
  • Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, District 6 - (202) 225-2331
  • Congressman Collin Peterson, District 7 - (202) 225-2165
  • Congressman Jim Oberstar, District 8 - (202) 225-6211
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar - (202) 224-3244

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