Government Funding Update
With less than 30 days before government funding expires November 17, the path forward on appropriations is unclear.
The House Appropriations Committee has voted on all bills except Labor-HHS-ED and Commerce-Justice-Science, and there has been internal disagreement within the Republican Caucus about how low to cut these bills. The House’s vote to vacate the speakership of Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has delayed consideration of appropriations bills to fund the government.
The next speaker will need to set House Republicans’ strategy for overall funding levels, so appropriations bills can continue moving through the committee and the floor. Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to consider a package containing the Agriculture, Military Construction-Veterans’ Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bills as soon as this week.
APLU, Higher Education Community Submit Letter Urging Announcement of New Better FAFSA
APLU joined 11 other higher education associations in submitting a letter to U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary Miguel Cardona, urging ED to announce a release date for the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the Better FAFSA. The letter notes appreciation for the regular communication regarding the Better FAFSA form and highlights the challenges stakeholders face in ensuring a smooth roll-out without a firm release date. Stakeholders are hard at work planning for the release, but are limited in how much can be done without knowing exactly when the form will be available. Traditionally, the FAFSA for the upcoming academic year is released on October 1 of the prior year, though statute allows the form to be released as late as January 1.
Representatives Steel, Foxx Introduce DETERRENT Act
Representative Michelle Steel (R-CA) and Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-VA) introduced the Defending Education Transparency and Ending Rogue Regimes Engaging in Nefarious Transactions (DETERRENT) Act. Per the Committee’s press release, the bill lowers the foreign gift reporting threshold to $50,000 and down to $0 for countries of concern, prohibits institutions from entering into a contract with a foreign country of concern without receiving a waiver from the Department of Education, requires disclosures of foreign gifts to staff and faculty, and applies penalties for institutions that remain non-compliant in foreign gift reporting. A factsheet and summary of the bill are available from the Education and Workforce Committee.
Chairwoman Foxx is expected to continue developing and releasing Higher Education Act-related measures, although future committee activity to advance legislation is unclear.
APLU, Higher Education Community Submit Comments on Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act Proposed Rule
APLU and 18 other higher education associations submitted comments on the Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Health and Human Services proposed amendments to regulations of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The letter requests that each agency finds ways within their authority to support provision of behavioral health services to students enrolled in higher education, including through the use of telehealth and through annual budget recommendations. The letter also identifies efforts agencies can take to address the mental health challenges of college students.
Department of Labor Denies Requested Extension to Overtime Rule Comment Period
On October 11, APLU and 29 other higher education associations submitted a letter to the Department of Labor this week seeking a 60-day extension to the comment period on the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule. The Department of Labor rejected all requests for an extension of the comment period.
The higher education association letter notes the potentially disruptive financial challenges of the rule on institutions. The community seeks additional time to gather data and fully assess the potential impact of the proposed changes on campuses to provide DOL with a more complete assessment to better inform their regulatory obligations.
APLU plans to submit comments addressing the effects of the proposed rule on public research universities.