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Washington Update: Congress Passes Short-term Continuing Resolution; Overtime Rule Update; Endowment Hearing; and More

Congress Passes Short-term Continuing Resolution, Adjourns until November
Last week, just before the new fiscal year began on October 1, Congress passed a 10-week continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government running and then adjourned until after the November elections. The short-term CR funds the federal government at FY2016 levels until December 9. The bill additionally provides $1.1 billion to respond to the Zika virus, $500 million in flood relief for Louisiana and other states, and full FY2017 funding for the Military-Construction-VA bill. Congressional leaders agreed on a separate funding path from the CR to aid the water crisis in Flint, MI, which is a top priority for Democrats and was a recent barrier to passing a CR before the start of the 2017 fiscal year. Congress returns to Washington on November 14 and will need to address how to fund the government for the remainder of FY2017 before the short-term CR runs out.

Higher Education Associations’ Letter in Support of Legislation to Delay Overtime Rule
APLU, along with eight other higher education associations, sent a letter to House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) last week in support of H.R. 6094, the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Nonprofits Act. This bill would provide a six-month delay of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule to double the minimum income threshold for the white collar exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime requirements. The final DOL overtime rule is currently scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016. APLU believes an increase in the overtime salary threshold is overdue, but has significant concerns about the size of the increase and the rapid implementation of the new rule.

The House passed H.R. 6094 on September 28th by a vote of 246-177 while a companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Susan Collins (R-ME) last week. The administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) saying the president would veto the bill.

Higher Education Associations’ Statement for the Record on Ways and Means Committee Endowment Hearing
APLU, along with the American Council on Education (ACE), Association of American Universities (AAU) and a number of other higher education associations, submitted a statement for the record to the House Ways and Means Committee as a follow up to the September 13 hearing on “Tax-Exempt College and University Endowments.” The statement details the role endowments play in university operations and financing. It also challenges a number of myths surrounding university endowments and tuition costs.

APLU prepared a factsheet on the importance and complexities of public university endowments, which can be found here.

Study Abroad Legislation Introduced in Senate
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the latest version of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act (S. 3390) on September 22. This legislation aims to implement the recommendations of the 2004 Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program, which was chaired by APLU President Peter McPherson. The bill would authorize a competitive grants program within the Department of Education to encourage higher education institutions to expand opportunities for study abroad. The goals of the grant program are to increase the number of undergraduate students studying abroad annually to one million within 10 years, increase the number of nontraditional and minority students studying abroad to reflect the demographics of the undergraduate population, and increase the number of students who study abroad in nontraditional destinations, with an emphasis on study abroad in developing countries.

More information is available in the joint APLU-NAFSA press release.

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