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Washington Update

Department of Education Publishes Negreg Consensus Language
The Department of Education (ED) published consensus language agreed upon by the Accreditation and Innovation negotiated rulemaking (negreg) committee on its rulemaking webpage (scroll to the very bottom). ED will now convert the language with possible technical corrections into a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The proposed rules will cover the sweeping array of topics in which the committee found consensus including issues of accreditation, competency-based education, state authorization and distance education, and TEACH grants.

Senator Grassley Seeks Info on Foreign Threats from NSF
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova requesting information about polices in place at the agency to detect and prevent threats to NSF-supported research. The letter is similar to a letter sent to the Department of Defense earlier this month and a letter to the National Institutes of Health last year seeking information about the vetting processes in place at these agencies regarding foreign researchers and public grants, and the steps each agency has taken to ensure the integrity of taxpayer funded research. Chairman Grassley requested a response from NSF no later than April 29.

Senators Introduce Legislation to Promote Study Abroad
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act, which would provide competitive grants to institutions of higher education to expand the number of students studying abroad and increase the diversity of participants and locations. The bill has long been a priority for APLU, beginning with APLU President Peter McPherson’s leadership on a congressionally-appointed commission examining ways to expand study abroad. Authorization of the program within the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education in the Higher Education Act is a priority for APLU.

House Passes Net Neutrality Bill
On April 10, the House passed H.R. 1644, the “Save the Internet Act of 2019,” which would restore the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s 2015 Open Internet Order and ensure net neutrality. The legislation would repeal the FCC’s 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which reversed classification of mobile and fixed broadband internet access services as common carrier services, implemented a “transparency only” net neutrality regime at the FCC, and eliminated the existing bright line prohibitions on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. The Save the Internet Act of 2019 is not expected to pass the Senate, and President Trump has threatened to veto the bill.

In 2018, APLU joined 19 other higher education and library associations on an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arguing that the Restoring Internet Freedom Order by the FCC will have a negative impact on universities and libraries across the United States.

DOE Announces Funding for AI Research
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to invest $20 million in funding for innovative research and development in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. According to the press release, $7 million will be used to shape the “future development and application of faster grid analytics and modeling,” $11 million will fund the development of new AI algorithms and software, and $2 million will fund research to improve reliability of predictions from AI and machine learning models “through the application of mathematical and statistical techniques of uncertainty quantification.”

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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