Congressional Action on the Federal Budget
APLU continues its strong advocacy urging Congress to reach a bipartisan, bicameral budget agreement for FY2020 and FY2021 that would lift the caps imposed by the Budget Control Act (BCA) and allow appropriators to make priority investments in higher education and research. In addition to joining with the Association of American Universities (AAU) in a joint communication to the administration and Capitol Hill, APLU joined the Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) Coalition in similarly pushing for a budget deal to lift the caps.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 imposed discretionary spending caps that lawmakers have lifted in prior years, but under current law such caps are still slated to take effect for Fiscal Years (FY) 2020 and 2021. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced yesterday that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to kick off negotiations aimed at lifting the discretionary budget caps for FY2020 and 2021.
The announcement follows tumultuous developments in the House and action by the Senate Budget Committee on a budget that would not lift the caps.
Lawmakers on the House Budget Committee passed the Investing for the People Act of 2019 by a vote of 19-17, mostly along party lines. The bill would raise the FY2020 and FY2021 defense caps to $664 billion, an increase of $17 billion from FY2019. The nondefense caps would increase to $631 billion, $34 billion above FY2019. After the budget committee advanced the measure, however, House Democratic leadership cancelled a scheduled vote on the bill on the House floor due to resistance from both progressive and moderate Democrats.
The House ultimately passed a resolution just for FY2020, establishing an overall limit of $1.3 trillion for defense and non-defense funding, which is similar to the FY2019 level.
The Senate Budget Committee’s resolution that passed recently would decrease defense funding from $716 billion to $643 billion and nondefense funding from $640 billion to $542 billion.
Higher Ed Community Endorses DREAM Act
APLU joined the American Council on Education and 32 other higher education associations and organizations on a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) strongly endorsing and urging the passage of the DREAM Act. Reintroduced on March 26 by Senators Graham and Durbin, the bill would allow undocumented students who were brought to the United States as children to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually citizenship. Senator Durbin’s office created a one-pager on the legislation as well as a section-by-section analysis of the bill.
ED Accreditation and Innovation Neg Reg Committee Reaches Consensus
In a relatively surprising development, the Department of Education (ED)’s Accreditation and Innovation negotiated rulemaking (Neg Reg) committee reached consensus on all main issue areas (Distance Learning, Education “Innovation” and Accreditation, Faith-Based Institutions, and reforming TEACH Grants). The Department is now required to publish the agreed upon language as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with a public comment period.
The Department will post the consensus language and related reports on the negotiated rulemaking webpage “in the coming days.” Secretary DeVos lauded the consensus agreement while a number of left-leaning organizations have criticized both the process and substance.
Senator Kennedy Introduces Bills to Limit China’s Influence on Campuses
Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced a series of bills (the Confucius Act, Protecting American Technology Act of 2019 and Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act) intended to “protect national security by ending China’s unfettered access to American college campuses.” The first bill, the Confucius Act, seeks to give managerial authority of Confucius Institutes’ teaching plans, activities, research grants and employees to the universities. The Senator also filed the Protecting American Technology Act of 2019, which would “safeguard the information and technology produced on college campuses by requiring a deemed export license to be in place before foreign nationals can conduct scientific research in university labs.” Finally, the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act would require companies to “provide proof they are not implicitly state-owned and prohibit them from being on the exchange if they refuse inspection of their records for three consecutive years.”
Senator Chris Murphy Calls on NCAA to Compensate Student Athletes
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) released a report, the first in a series of reports he intends to release, examining a range of alleged problems within college athletics. The first report, entitled Madness Inc.: How Everyone is Getting Rich Off College Sports – Except the Players, examines the finances of college sports and what the Senator considers as issues of fairness and civil rights.