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Washington Update

COMPETES/USICA Conference Update
On March 28, the Senate voted to pass a modified version of the COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521) by a vote of 68 to 24. On March 31, the House passed a motion to go to conference on H.R. 4521 by a vote of 351 to 74. The Senate will now have to pass a motion to go to conference, planned for later this week. Both the House and Senate hope to name conferees before the spring recess begins Friday.

The American Council on Education (ACE), joined by APLU and 20 additional higher education associations, sent a conference letter regarding the America COMPETES Act of 2022, H.R.4521, and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, S. 1260. The letter echoes several items that were also highlighted in APLU’s February letter and expands on concerns about provisions focused on Department of Education foreign gift and contract reporting.

Biden Administration Releases Budget Request
On March 28, the White House unveiled its long-awaited FY2023 President’s Budget Request (PBR) to Congress. Totaling $5.8 trillion dollars, the PBR allocates $1.58 trillion for discretionary spending at federal agencies in FY2023, including $769 billion for nondefense programs (5.3 percent above FY2022 levels) and $813 billion for defense spending (4 percent above FY2022).

APLU developed a detailed analysis of the PBR, including funding levels and policy language for programs of interest to APLU institutions at various agencies. Due to the late stage in which Congress finalized FY2022 spending levels, the PBR uses enacted FY2021 levels as a point of comparison, while APLU’s analysis uses enacted FY2022 levels.

ED Announces Automatic Extension for All Open HEERF Grants to June 30, 2023
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) published a notice in the Federal Register extending the grant period for all open Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants for another year. Specifically, the performance period for all open HEERF grants with a balance greater than $1,000 has been extended through June 30, 2023.

A few other points from the notice include:

  • Grantees are not required to take any action to take advantage of this automatic extension.
  • Grantees are encouraged to maintain a copy of this notice within their HEERF grant files as required documentation for auditing purposes.  
  • This extension does not apply to grants that are closed or in the closeout process, nor does it apply to grants that have an award balance of $1,000 or less.
  • Institutions will not receive a new grant award number (GAN) updating the performance periods of their HEERF grants, but this notice supersedes, in part, all previous guidance, agreements, and grant award documents to provide IHEs with an extended performance period through June 30, 2023.
  • This blanket extension is not considered a no-cost extension under 2 CFR 200.308(e)(2) and 34 CFR 75.261.

ARPA-H Developments
In testimony before the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Committee, Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra indicated that the Biden administration has decided to transfer the newly established Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to the National Institutes of Health. However, the director of ARPA-H will report directly to the Secretary of HHS, while the NIH will provide “administration work” such as human resources, payroll, and legal services. Science Magazine published a summary of the hearing.

APLU Supports Dr. Paydar for Assistant Secretary at ED
APLU sent a letter in support of the nomination of Dr. Nasser Paydar, Chancellor Emeritus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, as Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. The letter expresses Dr. Paydar’s qualifications and requests Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) expediently and favorably report the nomination out of committee.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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