AAU WEEKLY WRAP-UP
February 21, 2014
CONGRESSIONAL SCHEDULE NEW
BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS
White House Releases Information on its FY15 Budget Priorities NEW
Associations Ask Appropriators to Give Priority to Labor-HHS-Education Bill in FY15
White House Holds Meeting to Discuss Ways to Improve U.S. Patent System NEW
Nominations Still Open for 2014 Golden Goose Award
CONGRESSIONAL SCHEDULE NEW
The House and Senate were in recess this week. The Senate will return on Monday, February 24, and the House on Tuesday, February 25.
When the Senate returns to session next week it will consider judicial nominees and legislation (S. 1982) to restore the cut in certain military retirement pay that was included in the FY14 omnibus appropriations package. The House floor schedule has not been announced.
BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS
WHITE HOUSE RELEASES INFORMATION ON ITS FY15 BUDGET PRIORITIES NEW
As the Obama Administration gears up to release its FY15 budget plan on March 4, White House officials have begun sharing information about the budget via email with various advocacy communities.
The White House says its budget will stay within the discretionary spending caps set by the FY14 omnibus appropriations package, reports Politico, but the President will also request $56 billion in new spending, divided evenly between defense and non-defense programs for a new Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative.
The President will propose to pay for the initiative by closing certain tax loopholes and modifying mandatory spending programs. (The White House says adding this spending would fully eliminate the remaining non-defense discretionary sequestration cuts in FY15.)
Among the proposals that will be included in the initiative are:
· Creation of 45 new manufacturing institutes across the country,
· A “Race to the Top” program to encourage states to increase energy efficiency and modernize the energy transmission grid;
· Proposals aimed at expanding apprenticeships and pairing colleges and private employers to give workers the skills they need to compete for good jobs; and
· Universal pre-kindergarten education.
ASSOCIATIONS ASK APPROPRIATORS TO GIVE PRIORITY TO LABOR-HHS-EDUCATION BILL IN FY15
A group of 17 higher education associations, including AAU, sent a letter to House and Senate appropriators on February 18 asking them to allocate sufficient funding for the FY15 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bills to “enable the subcommittees to address the serious challenges in funding that exist for higher education programs.” The letter focused on previous years’ funding reductions for federal student aid programs, graduate education, and the National Institutes of Health.
Last week, AAU, the American Council on Education, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities sent appropriators a similar letter asking them to give priority to research and higher education programs in their FY15 appropriations plans. The goal, they said, was to help close the innovative deficit, the gap between what is needed to sustain U.S. technological leadership in the face of increased international competition and the amount the federal government has actually been investing in recent years. The associations are able to make such requests now because Congress set the FY15 appropriations total earlier this year as part of the FY14 omnibus appropriations package.
WHITE HOUSE HOLDS MEETING TO DISCUSS WAYS TO IMPROVE U.S. PATENT SYSTEM NEW
The White House on February 21 held a Patent Stakeholders Meeting at which National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce and Deputy U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee reviewed Administration initiatives “designed to combat patent trolls and further strengthen our patent system and foster innovation.” The speakers reviewed progress on five Executive Actions announced in June, 2013, and announced three new Executive Actions.
In his opening remarks, Sperling presented a case for forceful action against what he characterized as an abrupt increase in abusive patent practices by patent assertion entities. But in describing the Administration’s position, he acknowledged legitimate differences among different sectors on the range of legislative proposals for curbing abusive practices, and called on stakeholders to come together to forge workable compromises.
Following the public session, Deputy Undersecretary Lee moderated a roundtable on patent reform legislation attended by representatives from 25 invited organizations, including universities, to present and discuss their views on key legislative issues. Each group was asked to provide a statement on its top three priorities; the statement submitted by John Vaughn of AAU can be found here. The roundtable revealed significant differences of view, but the discussion also suggested a receptivity among the parties to seeking ways to narrow those differences in pursuit of legislative compromises.
NOMINATIONS STILL OPEN FOR 2014 GOLDEN GOOSE AWARD
Members of the AAU Council on Federal Relations and the public are reminded there is still time to nominate individuals or research teams for the 2014 Golden Goose Award. The deadline for nominations is Friday, April 18, 2014.
The Golden Goose Award was created three years ago at the suggestion of Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) by a coalition of groups, including AAU. The award honors researchers whose federally funded work may not have seemed to have practical applications when it was conducted but resulted in major benefits to society.
Nominations received after the deadline will be eligible for the 2015 awards; it is not necessary to submit a nomination more than once, as unsuccessful nominations roll over to the following year.
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