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Washington Update: APLU Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan DREAM Act; House to Consider FY2018 ‘Minibus’ Package; Premium H-1B Processing Resumes for Colleges and Universities; and More

APLU Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan DREAM Act
Last week, APLU President Peter McPherson released a statement applauding the introduction of the DREAM Act. Introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), the bill would give young undocumented immigrants a chance to become lawful permanent residents and eventually apply for citizenship.

House to Begin Consideration of FY2018 Minibus Package
Today, the House will take up the Make America Secure Appropriations Act of 2018. The bill, H.R. 3219, is a “minibus” FY2018 funding package comprised of four bills (Defense, Energy-Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-VA) that the House Appropriations Committee approved last week. These four bills together represent more than 60 percent of discretionary spending. The House Rules Committee narrowed down the more than 300 proposed amendments to the package; so far, 72 amendment have been made in order under a structured amendment process.

USCIS to Resume H-1B Premium Processing for Colleges and Universities
On Monday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it would resume premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B visa petitions. Effective immediately, the agency will restart fast-track requests from colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations that conduct research with higher education institutions. USCIS suspended its premium processing service for visas in April, saying the suspension would help clear its backlog of applications and improve the overall processing times. Last month, it resumed premium processing for certain physicians and government employees.

Higher Ed Associations Express Support for New Veterans Bill
Last week, a number of higher education associations, including APLU, sent a letter to Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN) of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee expressing support for the bipartisan legislation H.R. 3218, Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, which would modernize and enhance the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The letter applauds the Committee’s efforts to “…strengthen and expand educational benefits for veterans and their families, while ensuring that veterans and family members are able to access those benefits for a longer time.” The legislation passed the House of Representatives on Monday. The Senate may soon take up companion legislation.

Associations Submit Comments on Tax Reform to Senate Finance Committee
Nineteen higher education associations, including APLU, submitted comments to the Senate Finance Committee in response to the Committee’s call for stakeholder feedback on comprehensive tax reform. Some of the comments and recommendations include protecting and expanding the Student Loan Interest Deduction (SLID); preserving and expanding the exclusion from taxable income of the discharge of student loan debt through federal programs; preserving the current Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) exemption; consolidating and simplifying the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC), the tuition deduction, and exclude Pell Grants as taxable income for purposes of the reformed credits; and encouraging saving for higher education expenses by preserving Section 529 Education Savings Plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts.

Associations Submit Comments in Opposition to Reversing Net Neutrality Rules
APLU joined a number of higher education and library associations in a comment letter opposing the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking “Restoring Internet Freedom,” which would roll back the 2015 Open Internet rules, commonly known as the net neutrality rules. The comment letter expresses concern with the FCC’s efforts to reverse the current net neutrality policies that now protect the openness of the internet. The letter reiterates the need for strong, enforceable net neutrality policies and rules to protect and promote an open Internet, which is inextricably intertwined with the public interest missions of libraries and institutions of higher education. Further, it emphasizes that an open internet is essential for research, education, and other public interests served by libraries and higher education institutions. These comments reinforce previous association statements on network neutrality.

APLU Joins Others in Support of Regional Innovation Program
APLU joined the State Science & Technology Institute and other organizations in sending a letter to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee urging them to fund the Department of Commerce Regional Innovation (RI) program at $50 million for FY2018, a $33 million increase from FY2017 enacted levels. The letter states that “funding the RI Program at $50 million would support efforts to increase job growth, revitalize the manufacturing industry, and increase American innovation.”

APLU Submits Letter to House Oversight Subcommittees Ahead of Free Speech Hearing
Two subcommittees of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have scheduled a joint hearing, “Challenges to Freedom of Speech on College Campuses,” for tomorrow morning. In advance of the hearing, APLU sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Subcommittees, reinforcing public universities’ strong commitment to the free exchange of ideas on campus.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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