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Washington Update

Government Funding Expires September 30
With government funding set to expire September 30, lawmakers are working toward a continuing resolution that would fund the federal government at Fiscal Year 2022 levels through mid-December. The extension would give appropriators additional time to complete the FY2023 appropriations process. Senior lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have signaled interest in a funding extension through mid-December, likely passing a funding measure sometime next week.

APLU Submits Comments to ED on Title IX and Sex Discrimination
APLU submitted comments to the Department of Education (ED) in response to its proposed rule on Title IX and sex discrimination. Below is a summary of APLU’s requests included in submitted comments:

  • Clarify the role of the Title IX Coordinator and clearly permit assignment of obligations to designees and other offices;
  • Collaborate with varied stakeholders to develop lasting regulations, avoiding ongoing confusion as policy and regulations are overhauled every few years;
  • Continue to acknowledge public institutions’ obligations to protect freedom of speech under the First Amendment and provide due process consistent with the Constitution;
  • Revise the definition of “student” to be consistent with FERPA;
  • Provide definitional clarity and reasonable obligations for complaints by third parties;
  • Create more targeted training and reporting obligations for employees to reduce confusion and increase effectiveness;
  • Defer to employee processes covered by other federal and state laws, policies, and collective bargaining agreements when employees are accused of sex discrimination;
  • Designate as confidential any records related to pregnant and parenting students, shielding them from any possible release and appropriately limit required response to student-facing employees.

ED will now review the comments and develop final regulations. The department has also stated it will work on another rule on the application of Title IX to transgender student and athletics.

Dr. Renee Wegrzyn to Lead ARPA-H
President Biden appointed Dr. Renee Wegrzyn as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). In the role, Dr. Wegrzyn will lead the agency’s research portfolio and budget, supporting a broad range of programs to prevent, detect, and treat diseases. Dr. Wegrzyn joins ARPA-H from Ginkgo Bioworks and previously worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), two institutions that inspired the creation of ARPA-H.

President Biden Launches National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative
President Biden signed an Executive Order launching a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative that will grow domestic biomanufacturing capacity, expand market opportunities for bio-based products, drive research and development in biotechnology, and protect the American biotechnology ecosystem. The White House also released a factsheet on the initiative.

Global Food Security Reauthorization Bill Advances with Bipartisan Support
The bipartisan Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2022, H.R. 8446, advanced out of the House Foreign Affairs committee. The bill would reauthorize and build upon U.S. strategy to combat global food security and would support public research universities’ efforts to solve food system challenges through agricultural research, such as the Feed the Future Innovation Labs. In advance of the committee’s markup, APLU President Mark Becker sent a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX) in support of the reauthorization. The bill is expected to be taken up by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in early October.

APLU Analysis of House Student Aid and Loan Reform Bills, the LOAN Act and REAL Reforms Act
APLU created a side-by-side comparison chart of House Education & Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) LOAN Act and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx’s (R-NC) REAL Reforms Act.

Chairman Scott introduced the Lowering Obstacles to Achievement Now (LOAN) Act (H.R. 8872). The bill would double the maximum Pell grant to $13,000 over a period of five years, reduce the repayment period for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) from 10 to eight years, restore subsidized loans for graduate students, and reduce interest rates for all student loans (capped at 5 percent).

This bill contrasts with the Responsible Education Assistance through Loan (REAL) Reforms Act (H.R. 8655), introduced in August by Ranking Member Foxx. The bill would allow students to use Pell Grants for short-term programs, eliminate existing income-based repayment (IBR) plans and replace it with a single IBR plan, eliminate GRAD Plus loans, cap graduate borrowing at $25,000 annually ($100,000 total), and eliminate the PSLF program.

The LOAN Act and the REAL Reforms Act present two very different pictures of student aid and loan reform and will likely be a basis for broader HEA reauthorization bills next Congress that could be introduced by the House majority and minority.

DHS Authorizes Special Student Relief for Venezuela
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced special student relief to Venezuelan students on F-1 visas in a notice in the Federal Register. DHS is temporarily suspending certain regulatory requirements of F-1 visas for students with Venezuelan citizenship, allowing these students to request work authorization, work an increased number of hours during school, and reduce their course load all while maintaining their F-1 visa status. DHS announced these actions as a result of severe economic hardship and the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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