House Higher Education Act Reauthorization Update
Last week, the House Republican Whip Team took a count to gauge support for the PROSPER Act, H.R. 4508, and determined there is insufficient support to bring the measure to the floor at this time.
While nothing should be taken for granted and lawmakers are expected to make some small changes in an attempt to advance the bill again, APLU and member institutions have engaged in a truly impressive advocacy campaign to explain to House Republicans the many ways in which the bill would make higher education less accessible and less affordable while also making students and taxpayers more vulnerable to bad actors. APLU will continue to keep members abreast of any actionable development, as institutions will need to remain vigilant to ensure circumstances do not change.
Federal Agencies Issue Six Month Delay on Common Rule
On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services and 16 other federal departments and agencies issued a six-month compliance delay on the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, also known as the “Common Rule.” Last month, APLU joined the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of American Universities, and the Council on Governmental Relations in supporting the delay.
Higher Ed Associations Comment on “Unlawful Presence” Policy Memo
APLU along with the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education, and four other higher education associations sent a comment letter to the Department of Homeland Security regarding its draft policy memorandum concerning the “Accrual of Unlawful Presence for F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.” As written, the memo obscures the important distinction between “unlawful presence,” or illegal presence in the United States, and “maintenance of status,” as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act and thus poses potential significant problems for international students and scholars. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the proposed change without an official regulatory notice in the Federal Register for public comment. Under the new policy, it is possible that someone could be barred from reentering the U.S. for three or 10 years for an unknowing breach of their visa terms. More information about the proposed policy change and why it is problematic for higher education can be found here and here.
Senate Farm Bill Reported Out of Committee
The Senate Agriculture Committee advanced the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (S. 3042), commonly known as the “Farm Bill,” with a vote of 20-1, with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) casting the sole “no” vote. The committee adopted the manager’s amendment along with seven other amendments offered by committee members. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attended the markup and announced his intent to bring the Farm Bill to the floor prior to the Fourth of July recess.
Final EPA S&T Funding Letter
Two dozen institutions and organizations, including APLU, sent a letter asking Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Tom Udall (D-NM) to provide $746 million for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science and Technology (S&T) program in FY2019, a $40 million increase over FY2018 and $102 million more than the House approved proposal of $644 million. While the Senate approved an FY2019 bill providing $62 million more than the House proposal and $195 million above the President’s Budget Request, the $706 million provided for EPA S&T is level with FY2018 funding.
House Passes Rescissions Package
The House narrowly approved a rescissions package. The bill, H.R. 3, Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act, would eliminate roughly $14.8 billion of unobligated funds that Congress approved in years prior to FY2018. While the administration’s Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 3 expresses strong support of the measure, the bill’s fate in the Senate is uncertain.