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Washington Update

Education Department Will Miss Deadline on Gainful Employment and Borrower Defense Repayment Rules
As Inside Higher Ed reported, the U.S. Department of Education will miss a November 1 deadline to publish the final Gainful Employment (GE) and Borrower Defense to Repayment (BDR) rules. Missing the deadline means the earliest implementation date for either rule would be July 2020. Separately, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools in their litigation to block the U.S. Department of Education from implementing the last administration’s “Borrower Defense to Repayment” rule. The Department of Education stated it will soon provide information regarding implementation of the 2016 rule, which it considers “bad policy,” while working to revise the regulations. The Career Education Colleges and Universities, the main lobby organization for the proprietary sector, is arguing the Department can use discretion in not enforcing the rule.

Department of Education Negotiated Rulemaking on “Accreditation and Innovation”
The Department of Education issued another Intent to Establish Negotiated Rulemaking. This notice provides further detail on the newly named “Accreditation and Innovation” negotiated rulemaking (often referred to as “neg reg”) committee that will address a sweeping array of issues such as accreditation, distance and competency-based education, TEACH Grants, faith-based institutions, and barriers to innovation and competition. In a departure from typical practice, the Department would provide negotiators with a draft of regulations to start the process. The committee will have three topic-based subcommittees that focus on distance learning and educational innovation, TEACH Grants, and participation by faith-based educational entities.

Congress Sends Opioids Bill to the White House
After House and Senate passage in late September and early October, Congress sent a major opioids package, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) to the president. The bipartisan bill incorporates the TEACH to Combat Addiction Act, which APLU and many universities supported. Provisions in the package include support for the nation’s addiction treatment workforce in high-need areas, extending treatment-prescribing authority for certain health professionals, changes to telehealth restrictions for rural areas, and other proposals. The president is expected to sign the bill into law.

APLU Supports Complaint on Refusal of Airlines to Fly Research Animals
APLU sent a letter in support of a complaint to the Department of Transportation filed by the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR). The complaint discusses the refusal of major airlines to fly animals destined for scientific research even though those airlines transport animals for non-research purposes. NABR’s complaint also highlights the importance of animal research in advancing science and that federal regulatory bodies, such as the Food and Drug Administration, require testing for evaluating the safety and efficacy of new medicines.

Ag Secretary Perdue Responds to BAA Letter on NIFA/ERS Relocation
On September 28, Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue responded to a letter sent in August from APLU’s Board on Agriculture Assembly (BAA) regarding the proposed relocation of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS) out of the Washington, DC area. Secretary Perdue’s letter shares three main reasons for the relocation of NIFA and ERS: moving agencies closer to stakeholders; potential savings on employment costs and rent; and attracting qualified staff.

Global Food Security Act Reauthorization Signed Into Law
The House of Representatives passed the reauthorization of the Global Food Security Act (GFSA) by unanimous consent. The bill reauthorizes the U.S. government’s interagency food security strategy through 2023 and supports a broad portfolio of programs under the Feed the Future initiative, including research at university-led Feed the Future Innovation Labs. The bill extends the GFSA of 2016 which included provisions to “strengthen and expand collaboration between U.S. universities with higher education institutions in target countries.” The Senate cleared companion legislation in June, and President Trump signed the bill into law. APLU sent a letter to House and Senate leadership, as well as the bill’s long-standing champions, to thank them for their leadership and final passage.

NSTC Strategy for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing
The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has released its 2018 Strategy for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing. The strategy includes three goals: develop and transition new manufacturing technologies; educate, train, and connect the manufacturing workforce; and expand the capabilities of the domestic manufacturing supply chain. Among the items mentioned involving the university community are: supporting a STEM workforce and pathways for career and technical education; increasing workforce diversity; and engaging in a government-industry-academic partnership. The strategy also includes a progress report on the NSTC National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing, published in February 2012.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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