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Washington Update

House Passes American Dream and Promise Act
The House on Tuesday passed the American Promise and Dream Act of 2019, H.R. 6, by a vote of 237-187. Seven Republicans crossed party lines to vote with the Democrats on the bill. Ahead of the vote, APLU President Peter McPherson sent a letter to House leadership expressing strong support for the legislation.

The bill would provide conditional permanent residency and an earned path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as children including those studying at our nation’s colleges and universities. The bill would also provide potential protection from deportation and a pathway to citizenship for certain beneficiaries of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program.

While there is not an expectation the Senate will take up this particular bill, APLU continues its strong advocacy pushing for a bipartisan deal to protect Dreamers.

House FY2020 Appropriations Update
According to Politico, the House Committee on Appropriations will likely vote on its first ‘minibus’ appropriations package as early as next week. The ‘minibus’ package is reported to include funding bills for Defense, Energy and Water Development, Health and Human Services-Education, Legislative Branch, and State and Foreign Operations.

On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee released the draft committee reports for the FY2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) appropriations bills. APLU updated our appropriations priorities chart to reflect the additional information on accounts of interest.

APLU and AASCU Urge ED to Clarify and Exempt Public Institutions From BDR Reporting Requirements
APLU and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) sent a letter to Diane Jones, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for the Department of Education (ED), urging the Department to clarify that certain reporting requirements associated with the Borrower Defense to Repayment (BDR) regulations do not apply to public institutions. The letter argues that applying such requirements to public institutions will be burdensome for both ED and institutions and unnecessary “as the information would not be used to determine public institutions’ financial responsibility given the inapplicability of the provision to them.”

There has been significant confusion on the application of certain reporting requirements under the BDR rule. Some have interpreted the requirements as applying to public institutions. For example, Thompson Coburn informed their public institution clients that such rules applied to them. Some others, including APLU and AASCU, have said since the disclosure requirements are part of financial responsibility standards – which do not apply to publics and that publics should be exempt. The confusion is due in part because of ED’s lack of clarity on the issue. A recent electronic notice did not directly address the matter. ED released an FAQ document noting they see some requirements as applying to publics. APLU is reviewing the additional information.

ED is required by federal court to implement the Obama administration BDR rule while it undergoes rulemaking to significantly rewrite the regulations.

International Student Fees Set to Increase on June 24
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that new Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fees for international students will go into effect on June 24. The SEVIS fee (Form I-901) for F/M visa holders will increase from $200 to $350. The J visa SEVIS fee will surge to $220 from $180 (for those in au pair, camp counselor, and summer work/travel program categories, the fee would remain $35). Additionally, the initial certification fee for schools receiving students will increase from $1,700 to $3,000. DHS will also impose a $655 fee for each school site visit, a $675 fee for schools who appeal application decisions and a $1,250 fee for schools who file recertification petitions.

APLU joined the American Council on Education and others on a letter to Student and Exchange Visitor Program Unit Chief Sharon Snyder last September, arguing that the proposed increases would adversely impact student and faculty exchange visitors as well as institutions of higher education.

DOE Announces Plans for Quantum Information Science Centers
On May 31, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science announced plans to create two or more multidisciplinary research centers to support advanced and emerging research in quantum information science. DOE plans to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) in FY2020 to solicit applications.

The Department published a notice of intent and request for information in the Federal Registrar seeking input from stakeholders on possible topical areas, review criteria, organization, and assessment process to be described in the FOA. The deadline to submit comments is July 6, 2019.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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