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Washington Update

Senator Schumer Outlines Priorities for Upcoming Senate Work Period
Last Friday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) outlined his priorities for the upcoming Senate work period in a Dear Colleague Letter to the Democratic caucus. The letter discusses a two-track process for passing an infrastructure package. The first track is focused on turning the bipartisan infrastructure agreement, endorsed by President Biden, into legislation. The second track centers on developing a budget resolution to enact the remaining elements of the American Jobs and Families Plan. Leader Schumer said he intends to “consider both the bipartisan infrastructure legislation and a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions, which is the first step for passing legislation through the reconciliation process” during the work period, which may possibly extend into August recess. Other priorities outlined in the letter include confirming judicial nominees and protecting voting rights.

Yesterday, Leader Schumer and Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced a $3.5 trillion budget resolution agreement to unlock reconciliation. The agreement is a first step to advancing a comprehensive infrastructure proposal. Details on the deal have not yet been released but Leader Schumer indicated it will fund every major program that President Biden has asked for in a “robust way.”

As lawmakers continue work on the infrastructure packages, APLU has updated its infrastructure priorities document.

Higher Ed Groups Urge Congress to Include Broadband Investments in Infrastructure Package
On July 8, APLU and higher education partners sent a letter to House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation leadership urging investments in broadband infrastructure for postsecondary students and institutions of higher education in any infrastructure package under consideration. The letter highlights connectivity issues exacerbated by the pandemic, deeply impacting underserved students and deepening the digital divide for students and institutions lacking resources to adequately support students in the age of distance learning and education. Additionally, the letter requests that Congress make permanent the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program, set to expire in the near future, as well as investments in broadband to help ensure that all colleges and universities in every state “will have the connectivity necessary to provide multi-media rich, bandwidth-intensive courses, programs, and learning resources.”

FY2022 Budget and Appropriations Update
This week, the House Appropriations Committee will complete subcommittee and full committee markups of all 12 FY2022 spending bills. Only July 12, the Subcommittees on Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water Development, Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, and Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development approved their respective bills by voice vote. The full committee is scheduled to markup all four spending bills on Friday, July 16.

The APLU appropriations priorities chart has been updated based on available information in draft bills released earlier this week. We will update our appropriations priorities chart and analysis document with detailed information on bills and programs of interest to APLU institutions following release of committee reports later this week.

Higher Ed Community Urges TRIO Eligibility for Undocumented Students
On July 1, APLU joined a letter to Department of Education (ED) Secretary Miguel Cardona urging the Department to eliminate the regulatory requirements which stipulate that participants in the Federal TRIO Programs must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents as part of its upcoming Title IV negotiated rulemaking process. The letter argues that “TRIO is particularly important to the nearly 100,000 undocumented students who graduate from high school each year, and the more than 427,000 undocumented immigrants enrolled in higher education, including more than 181,000 students in higher education who are eligible for DACA.”

In new developments, ED intends to address TRIO eligibility issues on its long-term regulatory agenda, which has an estimated start date of June 2022. The Department is also currently offering a pilot program that could allow TRIO services for DACA and Temporary Protected Status students. Additional details on the pilot program is available here.

DHS Withdraws Rulemaking Effort Affecting International Students
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice in the Federal Register withdrawing the duration of status Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published on September 25, 2020. The rule would have established fixed terms of up to two to four years for international students and exchange visitors on F and J visas to complete their degrees.

Last year, APLU worked with Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and member institutions to develop a Republican sign-on letter to the Trump administration expressing deep concerns with the NPRM. The association worked with APLU member presidents to bring concerns to high levels of the previous administration and also requested the Biden administration withdraw the NPRM in our engagement with the presidential transition team. APLU also joined a higher education community letter urging DHS to withdraw the rule, arguing it would have a negative impact on international student enrollment.

APLU appreciates the collaborative work to oppose this harmful NPRM which is now withdrawn. Within the publication announcing the withdrawal, DHS reports they “may engage in a future rulemaking to protect the integrity of programs that admit nonimmigrants in the F, J, and I classifications.” We will continue to engage DHS.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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