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Washington Update

White House Releases Its FY2021 Budget Request
On Monday, the White House released its budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. The request, which includes significant cuts to student aid and research funding, begins the annual appropriations process. As in years past, Congress is expected to largely dismiss the request and drive its own process.

The administration’s budget calls for a 7.8 percent cut to the Department of Education, including an elimination of Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, more than a 50 percent cut to Federal Work Study, proposes eliminating Title VI International Education, and would have harmful impacts on many other vital programs. The maximum Pell Grant would remain stable.

On science, the budget proposes cutting funding to the National Institutes of Health by 7 percent and the National Science Foundation by 6 percent. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science would see a 17 percent cut and DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy would be eliminated entirely under the proposal. The budget request would significantly boost funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at the United States Department of Agriculture, but at the expense of critical programs that support agriculture research capacity of land-grant universities. The budget also boosts NASA funding by 12 percent.

APLU released a statement expressing deep concern and opposition to proposed cuts and elimination of higher education and research programs within the president’s budget request. For detailed information on the budget request, see the analysis APLU’s Office of Governmental Affairs developed.

House Science Minority Introduces SALSTA
Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK), House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member, along with 11 Republican co-sponsors introduced H.R. 5685, the Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act (SALSTA).

The legislation aims to create a national science and technology strategy, prioritize investments in federal basic research, invest in U.S. research facilities, develop a STEM workforce, and reform current regulations. The legislation would authorize a doubling of basic research funding over the next 10 years at the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

APLU issued a statement on the introduction of SALSTA, stating, “the U.S. faces a growing array of challenges to its position as the world’s innovation and economic powerhouse. As global competitors, particularly China, double down on their investment in science and technology, it’s more important than ever that we substantially increase investment in science and technology. We have a proven formula that has enabled U.S. leadership in science, technology, and innovation for many decades…We thank Ranking Member Lucas and his co-sponsors for their leadership on these issues. We look forward to working with the committee to strengthen the legislation in the weeks and months ahead.”

OMB Withdraws Sec. 117 ICR; ED Issues New Information Collection
Last week, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced that the Department of Education (ED) withdrew the emergency information collection request (ICR) it submitted to OMB this past December. ED had asked OMB to immediately implement new reporting requirements for foreign gifts and contracts under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act. OMB indicated that the Department of Education would reissue its proposal for a full 30-day comment period and would pursue rulemaking to address the Department’s intention to collect “true copies” of contracts from covered institutions.

The Department of Education issued a new public notice in the Federal Register. Comments on the new proposal are due on March 11, 2020. APLU will review the new proposal and will work with partner associations on analysis and proposed comments.

Federal Court Issues Nationwide Injunction on “Unlawful Presence” Policy
Last Thursday, U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs issued summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and a nationwide injunction on the Trump administration’s “unlawful presence” policy. The decision is in response to a suit filed in 2018 by four colleges challenging the policy, which changed the way the federal government calculates visa overstays for international students and visiting scholars on F, J, and M visas. APLU and the Association of American Universities (AAU), among others, made a financial contribution to help fund the litigation.

Under the administration’s policy, individuals who accrue more than 180 days of “unlawful presence” before departing the United States can be barred from re-entering the country for a period of three or 10 years. APLU and its partner associations submitted joint comments in response to the initial policy memo announcing the change which was not made through notice-and-comment rulemaking in compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act.

In her decision, Judge Biggs echoed APLU’s concerns and said the policy conflicts with immigration law.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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