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Washington Update

APLU COVID-19 Resources Pages
APLU has produced a comprehensive rundown of its COVID-19-related advocacy efforts and a detailed agency-by-agency analysis of the U.S. government’s response to the pandemic and its fallout.

House Introduces Legislation on Paid Leave Tax Credit, Senate to Follow
Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL), along with Representatives John Katko (R-NY), TJ Cox, (D-CA), Peter T. King (R-NY), and Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced bipartisan legislation to make public sector employers, including public universities, eligible for the emergency paid leave payroll tax credits created through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The Supporting State and Local Leaders Act, H.R. 6643, is supported by numerous organizations across the higher education community, including APLU. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tina Smith (D-MN) also announced that they would introduce companion legislation in the Senate.

Murray and DeLauro Urge ED to Reverse Guidance Excluding Certain Student Populations from Emergency Relief Fund
Senate Appropriations Labor-Health & Human Services-Education (LHHS-ED) Subcommittee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Appropriations LHHS-ED Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) sent a letter to Department of Education (ED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging reversal of guidance issued last month that excludes 7.5 million students from emergency financial aid to students provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The guidance noted that only Title IV-eligible students may receive emergency aid provided through the CARES Act, precluding international and undocumented students from accessing the funds and creating significant challenges for institutions in supporting students who have not previously completed a FAFSA.

In the letter, Ranking Member Murray and Chairwoman DeLauro argue that “the barriers created by the U.S. Department of Education do not exist in the law and will prevent aid from reaching students that Congress intended to support.” ED is expected to soon release the next round of CARES guidance, which will likely further clarify how institutions may adapt to the department’s restrictions of emergency grants to Title IV eligible students.

Department of Education Releases $1 Billion in Funds for HBCUs, MSIs, and Other Institutions
The Department of Education announced it would release the portion of CARES Act funds reserved for institutions that receive support through Parts A and B of Titles III and V, as well as Part A of VII of the Higher Education Act. ED also released guidance for Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) funds for small institutions. Allocations for each institution can be found here.

Additionally, the CARES Act allocates 2.5 percent of this funding ($348.8 million) to FIPSE, for institutions the secretary determines to have the most unmet need related to coronavirus. Allocations for FIPSE funds can be found here. According to ED, about $15 million of remaining FIPSE funding for small institutions will be distributed through a competition that the Education Department will announce in the “coming weeks.”

Furthermore, the Department is expected to soon release the next round of CARES guidance, which is expected to further clarify ED’s restrictions of emergency grants to Title IV eligible students.

TFAI Requests Robust Funding to Sustain U.S. Scientific Enterprise
The Task Force on American Innovation (TFAI), of which APLU is a steering committee member, submitted a letter to congressional leadership requesting robust funding and investments in the scientific enterprise in future COVID-19 stimulus bills. The letter outlines the severe impacts of the pandemic on the research community and urges congressional leaders to significantly increase research funding across federal science agencies, maintain and grow our STEM workforce, and invest in essential infrastructure. The Task Force also references the April 7 research relief letter, led by APLU and higher education partners, requesting $26 billion to support short-term needs of the research community to address COVID-19 disruptions.

Lawmakers Send Letter in Support of Bolstered Research Funding in Next Coronavirus Relief Package
More than 180 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter, led by Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI), to House leadership in support of supplemental research relief funding in the next COVID-19 stimulus package. The request includes $26 billion (consistent with APLU’s Phase IV request) to cover supplements for research grants and contracts, provide emergency relief to sustain research support personnel and base operating costs for core research facilities, and fund additional graduate student and postdoc fellowships, traineeships, and research assistantships.

On Tuesday, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), joined by 31 Senators, sent a similar letter to Senate leadership urging $26 billion for research relief funding in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill.

Associations Urge Exclusion of Nonimmigrant Visas from Future Executive Orders
APLU joined over 60 associations and organizations on a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, and Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia regarding President Trump’s directive to the agencies included in the immigration executive order he issued late last month. The order instructs the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to review nonimmigrant programs within 30 days of the proclamation and make recommendations to the President on “other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.”

The associations’ letter highlights the positive impact international students have on the U.S. economy and implores the agencies to exclude nonimmigrant visas from future executive orders issued by the administration. The letter also requests priority visa processing for F-1 and M-1 applicants seeking to study in the U.S. in the fall and suggests remote interviews to expedite the process.

House Republicans to Investigate Chinese Involvement in U.S. Higher Ed
House Ranking Members of the Oversight and Reform, Education and Labor, Homeland Security, Science, Space and Technology, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees wrote to ED requesting information “about the Chinese government’s investment in American colleges and universities” as part of a joint inquiry into the Chinese government’s involvement in the American higher education system.

The letter cites numerous media and think tank reports critical of U.S. academic institutions interactions with Chinese higher education and government entities. The letter asks ED for release of all information, documents and communications between ED and institutions currently under Section 117 investigation between January 2018 to present; preliminary findings on all investigations at ED on false reporting of foreign gifts; and all staff-level briefings at ED. As a reminder, the Department of Education is expected to release new Section 117 reporting requirements in the next several weeks.

Stakeholders Urge Relief Funding for NIFA
Over 270 national, regional, and local stakeholders, including APLU’s Board on Agriculture Assembly and Board on Human Sciences, submitted a letter to congressional leadership requesting $380 million for agriculture research and extension at the Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) as part of an upcoming coronavirus relief package.

APLU led the letter effort, working with AAU, the Supporters of Agriculture Research Foundation, National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research and others to gather national, regional, and state support from key stakeholders of research and extension.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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