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Washington Update

Update on FY2018 Appropriations

On January 22, after nearly three days of a congressional impasse resulting in the shutdown of the federal government, Congress approved a continuing resolution (CR) and President Trump signed it into law, reopening government and funding it through February 8. As part of the Senate agreement to pass the latest CR, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) committed that the Senate will consider and vote on legislation to address the future of Dreamers and the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

APLU continues to urge Congress to reach a bipartisan budget agreement that will lift the defense and non-defense discretionary caps and allow for much-needed investments in higher education and research. APLU also continues to advocate strongly for swift congressional action that would, at a minimum, codify the provisions of the DACA policy into law.

DACA Update
On January 13, a judge with the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an injunction to block the administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As a result, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed accepting renewal requests from individuals who were previously granted deferred action under DACA. However, USCIS is not accepting applications from those who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. In a statement, the Department of Justice announced that it filed a notice of appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision and that it also plans to petition the Supreme Court to intervene in the case, thereby completely circumventing the Ninth Circuit.

On January 25, the White House released its “Framework on Immigration Reform & Border Security.” During his State of the Union address yesterday, President Trump highlighted the framework which proposes a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers in exchange for changes to family-sponsored citizenship and legal permanent residency, increased border security, and elimination of the visa lottery program. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has agreed to bring immigration legislation to the floor but the path forward for a bill remains unclear in both the House and Senate.

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Travel Ban Case
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging the third and current version of the Trump administration’s travel ban, which restricts entry to the United States for individuals from eight countries, including six majority-Muslim countries. Last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration exceeded its executive authority by barring certain travelers from entering the U.S. The appeal was brought by the state of Hawaii and cited the impact of the ban on the state’s public universities to recruit international students and faculty. The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments for the case, Hawaii v. Trump, in April. In the meantime, the high court has allowed the Trump travel restrictions to go into effect – even as legal challenges against the policy are pending.

NSF 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators Report
The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently released the 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators report. According to the report, the U.S. continues to be the global leader in science and technology (S&T); however, its global share of S&T activities is declining as other nations, notably China, continue to increase their S&T activity. For example, U.S. research and development expenditures have grown by four percent annually since 2000 compared to China’s 18 percent over the same period. The full report is available here.

Department of Education Names Two Senior Officials
Today, the Department of Education (ED) named two officials to senior posts within the Department. Frank Brogan, the former Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, has been delegated the duties of Assistant Secretary of Postsecondary Education (OPE) where he will supervise Higher Education Programs, the Office of International and Foreign Language Education, and the Office of Policy, Planning and Innovation. He will continue to also serve as the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, overseeing these key activities at ED. The Department also announced that Kathleen Smith will be responsible for managing, under the direction of the Chief Operating Officer, the daily operations of Federal Student Aid (FSA), its 1300 employees, and its $1.4 trillion student loan portfolio. Most recently, Smith served as Acting Assistant Secretary in OPE. Smith also worked as an education policy advisor on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Smith also served as chief of staff at OPE during 2009 – 2013.

Alex Azar Confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services
Last week, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Alex Azar to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by a vote of 55-43. Azar previously served as General Counsel and Deputy Secretary for the HHS during the George W. Bush administration. Most recently, Azar was chairman and founder of Seraphim Strategies, a consulting firm that provides strategic counsel on the biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries. His career also includes nearly ten years as a senior executive for the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, including as president of Lilly USA over the past five years.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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