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The Washington Update: Congress Considers Revised 21st Century Cures Act and a Federal Judge Issues Injunction Blocking Overtime Rule

House Considers Revised 21st Century Cures Act
The House is expected to consider the revised 21st Century Cures Act today, Wednesday, November 30. In a statement yesterday, APLU President Peter McPherson urged to swiftly pass the bill – underlining APLU’s support of critically important research funding and regulatory relief.

Of particular interest to APLU institutions are the sections of the bill related to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Cures bill would provide $4.8 billion for a special “Innovation Projects” account to support specific initiatives at the NIH over the next 10 years, including $1.4 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative, $1.564 billion for the BRAIN Initiative and $1.8 billion for cancer research. The legislation would also reauthorize the NIH for the years FY2018-FY2020, providing an NIH authorization of $36.47 billion by FY2020, an increase of $4.4 billion over current funding levels.

Additionally, the bill creates a “Next Generation of Researchers Initiative” to promote and improve opportunities for new researchers. The act also includes a section on reducing administrative burden for researchers.

Preliminary Injunction on DOL Overtime Rule
Last week, a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s rule to increase the minimum salary threshold for exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “white collar” overtime pay requirements. The regulation, which was scheduled to go into effect on December 1, would have changed the minimum exempt salary from $23,660 to $47,476.

The injunction only temporarily blocks implementation as the court works to make a decision based on the merits of the case, but in the decision, the judge apparently found the plaintiffs had demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success.

Many institutions have already determined how to address the overtime rule and communicated those decisions to employees based on the broadly held expectation that the regulation would be effective on December 1. Each institution will now have to make their own judgement as to whether the preliminary injunction impacts/defers their decisions on the matter.

It is not clear what actions the incoming Trump administration might take in the months ahead. Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), released a statement stating that the preliminary injunction decision will give the “incoming Republican administration and Congress the opportunity to revise this rule, which many have said is too high, too fast, in favor of a more reasonable, balanced approach to increasing overtime pay.”

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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