Joint Statement on Research Universities’ Commitment to National Security & International Education
APLU, in coordination with the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education, and the Council on Governmental Relations, provided the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration with a statement on the four organizations’ commitment to the protection of national security. The letter was sent ahead of a hearing that the subcommittee will hold today titled Student Visa Integrity: Protecting Educational Opportunity and National Security.
The statement asserts that “U.S. universities share a vested interest with the government in ensuring that intellectual property, proprietary information, trade secrets, sensitive data, and other classified and/or otherwise controlled government information developed or housed at our institutions is not susceptible to academic exfiltration, espionage, or exploitation...protecting our national and economic security while ensuring that the United States remains the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest students, faculty, and scholars are not mutually exclusive.”
It follows an April 11 statement submitted to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in advance a similar hearing titled Scholars or Spies: Foreign Plots Targeting America’s Research and Development.
PROSPER Act Update
The House Republican Caucus continues to discuss the possibility of bringing the Higher Education Act reauthorization bill, the PROSPER Act, H.R. 4508, to the House floor. Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), House Education & Workforce Committee, continues member-to-member engagement in an attempt to secure the 218 votes needed for passage. She is aiming to secure the votes for potential floor action this month, though House Republican Leadership has not officially confirmed a timeline. Some are skeptical she has the votes at this time. House Democrats are operating under the assumption that the bill could be on the floor as soon as next week and have prepared their alternative as a substitute amendment.
APLU continues to urge member institutions to engage House Republicans with concerns on the bill and prepare to ask members to vote “no” should the bill reach the House floor. As a reminder, APLU’s statement and analysis of the legislation are available here. Additionally, APLU’s joint op-ed with the American Association of State College and Universities is available here.
FY2019 Appropriations Update
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are making a push to advance FY2019 federal funding legislation. In an effort to approve all 12 appropriations bills expeditiously, congressional leaders plan to group together the funding bills into small funding clusters, or “minibuses.” The first minibus, which combines the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bills, is scheduled for a floor vote in the House this week.
In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee plans to finish its work prior to the July Fourth congressional recess and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently cancelled the Senate’s traditional August recess in part to allow more time for that body to pass the appropriations bills before the end of the current fiscal year.
APLU Submits Amicus Brief Conveying Critical Role of Public University Tech Transfer
APLU submitted an amicus brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in patent litigation involving the University of Minnesota. At stake is the ability of public universities to protect intellectual property from infringement without subjecting institutions to administrative proceedings at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (part of the executive branch of the U.S. government), called inter partes review, which have become notorious for overturning patents at much higher rates than courts in the judiciary branch. The University of Minnesota’s position is that engaging in litigation to enforce patent rights should not waive the institution’s sovereign immunity from inter partes review.
APLU’s amicus brief provides important context for the court on the contributions to society of public university research, how technology transfer revenue may be used, and the importance of state sovereign immunity.