End of Congressional Session Action Alert

After Tuesday’s dramatic election results, Democrats now control the U.S. House of Representatives, by gaining about 30 seats, and the Senate, by taking a 51-49 majority. The Washington Office will provide a list of committee assignments and the leadership positions as soon as they are available.

Congress will return on November 14. The House Democrats will hold leadership elections on November 16 and the House Republicans on November 17. On the agenda for both chambers is to finish work on the remaining FY 2007 appropriations bills and confirmation hearings for a new Defense Secretary. Congress has until November 17 — the date on which the current continuing resolution that funds the federal government expires — to decide on what to do for next year. It is doubtful that Congress will be able to pass any stand-alone appropriations bills, and will more likely wrap the unfinished appropriations bill into an omnibus appropriations bill or a long-term continuing resolution that would carry funding through January or March or for the year. We will continue to update you as events unfold.

Action Needed

1) Please contact your Senators and ask them to sign onto the Reed-Collins “Dear Colleague” letter, requesting that the Senate Appropriations Committee support $171.5 million for Grants to State Library Agencies, the level recommended by the President and provided by the House of Representatives in its version of the FY 2007 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill. The letter is available below. It is critical you contact your Senator immediately.

For more information, please visit the ALA Washington Office’s Funding page.

2) Please contact your Member of Congress and thank them for maintaining the E-rate and ask them to pass a permanent exemption from the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA) accounting requirements. A permanent exemption for the E-rate and the FCC’s universal service fund from these government accounting rules under the ADA must be passed this session as a stand-alone bill since it is widely assumed that the telecommunications reform bills most recently before the House and Senate will not move forward during the pending lame duck session. (The ADA exemption language had been included in the broader reform bills.)

For more information, please visit the ALA Washington Office’s E-Rate and Universal Service page.

3) Urge Members of Congress to seek language on FY 07 appropriations that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from closing any more EPA libraries and restore funding for those libraries that EPA closed. Senators can be asked to add their names to the Friday, November 3rd letter sent by 18 Senators to Senate Appropriators asking that EPA be directed to maintain physical access to its libraries while the public is given an opportunity to comment on planned library closures.

For more information, please visit the ALA Washington Office’s EPA Libraries page.

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Reed-Collins “Dear Colleague” Letter

November XX, 2006

Senator Arlen Specter
Chairman
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Committee on Appropriations

Senator Tom Harkin
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Committee on Appropriations

Dear Chairman Specter and Ranking Member Harkin:

As you work to finalize FY07 appropriations, we respectfully urge you to include $171.5 million for Grants to State Library Agencies, the level recommended by the President and provided by the House of Representatives in its version of the FY07 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill.

This funding level will allow for the first time full implementation of a key provision of the Museum and Library Services Act of 2003 to provide a more equitable distribution of state formula grants. By so doing, smaller states would finally have the resources to implement and benefit from valuable library services and programs that have been put in place in larger states. The 2003 law struck a careful balance to ensure any increases for smaller states would not come at the expense of funding for larger states.

States are required to match funds received under the Grants to State Library Agencies, meaning that every federal dollar invested stimulates upwards of $3 in state commitments to libraries. As a result, libraries across the country are providing library patrons young and old with essential literacy, educational, and career development services; access to federal, state and local e-government; narrowing the “digital divide” by offering no fee, public access to computers; and offering information and other vital resources to residents and localities striving to recover from natural disasters big and small. Our nation’s libraries are so much more than places to borrow books; they are hubs for our communities and portals to the world.

Only a strong, continued investment by Congress will enable libraries to undertake exciting projects that help library users of all ages and backgrounds improve their skills, expand their knowledge base to master challenges, increase student academic achievement, and encourage lifelong learning.

For these reasons, we respectfully request that the Senate agree to a level of no less than $171.5 million for Grants to State Library Agencies in the final version of the FY07 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill.

We are cognizant of the difficult constraints you face, and thank you for your support for libraries.

Sincerely,

About Jacob Roberts

Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

One comment

  1. These funds will benefit even more as we become more successful at extending the lives of books.

    We’re looking forward to these developments.

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