A Look Ahead
Congress Gets Back To Work
The end of summer might make for a rude awakening for members of Congress, who will return to Capitol Hill on September 8 to tackle a number of important, time sensitive tasks. Before the end of the month, they’ll need to come to consensus on Iran, pass a highway funding bill, and even visit with the Pope. And at the top of their to do list: avoid a government shutdown.
Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 ends on September 30 and with it, so does funding for the federal government. With the House having passed only six of the twelve FY 2016 appropriations bill and the full Senate having considered none, it is overwhelmingly likely that Congress will again pass a temporary spending bill, called a Continuing Resolution (CR), to fund the government in the new fiscal year at the previous year’s levels.
However, some House conservatives have announced plans to oppose any measure that funds Planned Parenthood, while Democrats have said they would not support a measure that defunds the organization, raising the stakes for a Planned Parenthood-related shutdown from both sides. Failing to pass even a short term, stopgap spending bill before October 1 would cause the government to shut down as it did in 2013, a fate many Democrats and Republicans would prefer to avoid leading up to next year’s elections.
As we’ve noted in previous years, the lack of a regular appropriations process means that federal agencies must do their best to contend in the uncertainty of future budgets, as they are unable to predict how much— if any—they’ll be able to spend on new or continued programs. With so much unknown about future budgets, it is especially important to commend and support the important work some agencies do to promote access to legal information. If you haven’t already done so, you can use AALL’s Legislative Action Center to send customized emails to your members of Congress to remind and educate them about important work of the Government Publishing Office, Library of Congress, National Archives, Legal Services Corporation, and Institute of Museum and Library Services. These agencies’ uninterrupted operations are essential to informing the American public about their government and promoting a healthy democracy.
If Congress does pass a Continuing Resolution, it’s likely another fiscal battle may come at the end of the year. The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that the Treasury Department will run out of money sometime between mid-November and early December, requiring Congress to raise the debt ceiling around the same time a CR would likely expire.
Register for the 2015 DLC Meeting and FDL Conference
Join your FDLP friends and colleagues at the 2015 Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference October 19-21 in Arlington, Virginia. The theme of this year’s event is: GPO and the FDLP: A Rich History, A Vibrant Future. A preliminary schedule and agenda are available for download. Register by October 12 to attend in person or follow along virtually. Selected programs of will be broadcast online, with registration for these sessions available soon.
AALL in the States
UELMA Advocacy in 2016
The Uniform Law Commission is collecting its 2016 legislative enactment plans and Commissioners in several states have included the Uniform Legal Electronic Material Act (UELMA) on their plans. As state legislatures return to session next year, AALL advocates will work to identify UELMA sponsors, usher the bill through the legislature, and advocate for enactment. Need a refresher on the process? Watch the recording of our May 2015 training “Progress Report: UELMA Advocacy in 2015 and Beyond,” available on the UELMA Resources page.
Submit your Chapter Advocacy Updates
Chapter members are encouraged to share news, events, and policy updates with the broader AALL membership via this monthly column in the Washington E-Bulletin. Use AALL Chapter Government Relations Listserv (firstname.lastname@example.org) to share your advocacy updates.
Roundup and Review
- Meet OGIS’s new director
- AALL shared its views on the necessary qualifications of the next Librarian of Congress
- Our call for public access to CRS reports
- A brief history of free speech and the Internet
- Coalition successfully opposed restrictions to FOIA, but problems with CISA remain
Please note: Regular publication of the Washington E-Bulletin will be on hiatus until December 2015. Subscribe to the Advocacy Listserv to receive the latest AALL advocacy news.