THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION. MARCH 27, 2013. President Obama signed a bill into law on Tuesday that will finance government operations for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year as well as restore military Tuition Assistance Programs and limit spending on political-science research.
The continuing resolution, as the bill is called, passed both chambers of Congress last week and prevents the government shutdown that would have occurred if legislators had not passed the bill by Wednesday, when the current resolution expired. The legislation was enacted six months after the start of the fiscal year.
The bill keeps in place this month's steep federal spending cuts, known as the sequester, until at least the summer or early fall, when Congress will resume talks on a budget for the 2014 fiscal year, which starts on October 1. However, it does give more spending flexibility in some departments, such as providing an additional $87-billion for overseas military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also restores some funds cut by the sequester from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
"There is no question that we believe we should not have come to this point where the sequester would be imposed," said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. "There's no question that we believe regular folks out there are being unnecessarily harmed by imposition of the sequester—which was designed by Democrats and Republicans purposefully never to become law, to be filled with nonsensical approaches to deficit reduction."
Before sending the bill to the House of Representatives for approval last week, the Senate approved two amendments that are now law: one that will restore Tuition Assistance Programs that several branches of the armed forces had announced they would suspend as a result of the sequester, and one that will broadly restrict the ability of the National Science Foundation to approve any grants involving political science, unless the agency can certify them "as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States."