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Washington Update

FY2021 Appropriations Update
House and Senate committees and subcommittees will begin holding hearings this week on portions of the White House’s FY2021 budget request. The House Appropriations Committee reportedly plans to mark up all 12 appropriations bills in April and May with hopes of passing all appropriations bills on the House floor by July. APLU’s FY2021 advocacy documents and the FY2021 Appropriations Priorities Chart are finalized and available on our updated Federal Budget and Appropriations website.

APLU Applauds New USDA Agriculture Innovation Agenda
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda, “a department-wide initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Specifically, USDA will stimulate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing production by 40 percent while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050.”

APLU sent Secretary Perdue a letter applauding the USDA initiative and noting that public and land-grant universities have long been at the forefront of these issues. “Public research universities are leading the way to boost crop yields while mitigating the environmental impact of agriculture to ensure long-term sustainability. They are also undertaking pioneering work to address greenhouse gas emissions, limit food loss and waste, and advance renewable energy sources.”

APLU Submits Comments on U.S. Department of Education’s Proposed Rule on Campus Free Speech
APLU submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed rule on campus free speech. In the comment letter, APLU President Peter McPherson calls for a 30-day extension to the comment deadline while outlining the severe unintended consequences of the proposed regulations, including significantly raising the stakes of First Amendment litigation, driving up legal expenses of public universities, and inappropriately overriding institutional discretion and possibly creating conflict with state laws on policy relative to student organizations.

Among other issues, the proposed rule would require public institutions to abide by the First Amendment as a “material condition” of receiving a Department of Education grant. Noncompliance is determined by a “final, non-default judgment” by a state or federal court that the institution or any of its employees, acting in their official capacity, violated the First Amendment. Institutions must notify the Department of final judgments within 30 days.

The proposed rule also requires that public universities not deny to religious student organizations any “right, benefit, or privilege (including full access to the facilities of the public institution and official recognition of the organization) afforded to other student organizations” because of the religious student organization’s “beliefs, practices, policies, speech, membership standards, or leadership standards…”

APLU also signed a higher ed community letter on the NPRM.

OSTP Issues RFI on Public Access Data
On February 19, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a request for information (RFI) on “Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications, Data and Code Resulting From Federally Funded Research.” The RFI aims to give an opportunity to interested organizations to provide recommendations on public access that result from federally-funded research in an effort to “facilitate implementation and compliance with the 2013 memorandum Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research and to address recommended actions made by the Government Accountability Office in a November 2019 report.” APLU is working with other associations to analyze the RFI. Last week, APLU and the Association of American Universities hosted the first National Summit on Public Access to Research Data as part of the associations’ joint effort to promote public access to research data.

Final Letter Urging DHS to Reestablish HSAAC
Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) submitted a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on behalf of more than 45 members of the House of Representatives, urging the agency to expand its outreach to institutions of higher education, specifically referencing the disbanded DHS Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC). HSAAC was established in 2012 as a forum for DHS and the higher education community to discuss mutual areas of concern and was reestablished in 2018 with new membership. The Council was disbanded pursuant to President Trump’s executive order cutting back on federal advisory committees last year.

APLU and partner associations provided support for the letter.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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