In This Section

AAU WEEKLY WRAP-UP

PDF

May 30, 2014

CONTENTS

CONGRESSIONAL SCHEDULE NEW
BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, AND TAX ISSUES
House Approves FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science Funding Bill UPDATED
Senators Urge Strong Funding for Defense Basic Research
House Ways and Means Committee Approves IRA Charitable Deduction Extension NEW
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES
House Science Committee Approves FIRST Act UPDATED
EXECUTIVE BRANCH
AAU Submits Comments on Accreditation Policy to NACIQI
Associations Comment on Department of Education’s Proposed Gainful Employment Rule
OTHER
Updated AAU RSS Feeds Now Available


CONGRESSIONAL SCHEDULE NEW

The House met today and approved the FY15 intelligence authorization bill (H.R. 4681); the Senate met in pro forma session.

The Senate returns to regular session on Monday, June 2, when it is expected to consider Executive Branch appointments. The House will be in recess next week, returning to session on Monday, June 9.


BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, AND TAX ISSUES

HOUSE APPROVES FY15 COMMERCE-JUSTICE-SCIENCE FUNDING BILL UPDATED

The House on May 29 approved the FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science (C-J-S) appropriations bill (H.R. 4660), which funds the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. The vote was 321-87.

As reported previously, despite reduced overall funding in the bill, the House Appropriations Committee approved a three-percent increase for NSF and a one-percent increase for NASA. The House sustained the committee-approved funding levels for both agencies, but Members voted to move $7 million in NASA funding from Space Operations to Space Technology.

During floor action, House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) offered an amendment that they said would take $15.3 million out of the NSF Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate and reallocate it to other research directorates. The amendment passed by a vote of 208-201.

However, because appropriators fund NSF research through the broad category of Research and Related Activities and not at the level of individual research directorates, the Smith-Cantor amendment has no practical effect. (Indeed the amendment does not mention any directorate.) But the Members used consideration of the amendment to criticize the NSF grant-making process and specific grants in the social and behavioral sciences.

Speaking on the House floor in support of NSF social sciences research were Science Committee Ranking Member Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), all of whom discussed examples of social, political, and economics research that have made important contributions to the economy and public life. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) discussed the importance of NSF’s activities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

The House also approved by voice vote an amendment offered by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) that prohibits funding for an NSF grant to examine the effects of climate change on the quality of tea in China and the resulting socioeconomic responses.

Prior to floor consideration of H.R. 4660, AAU issued a statement of support for the bill, thanking members of the House Appropriations Committee for their strong support of investments in science and technology and urging the House to maintain the committee-approved funding levels for both NSF and NASA.

The Coalition for National Science Funding, in which AAU participates, issued a statement that called on the House to sustain the funding level for NSF and oppose policy riders directed at specific research projects or disciplines, particularly in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences.

SENATORS URGE STRONG FUNDING FOR DEFENSE BASIC RESEARCH

A group of 18 Senators, led by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), has sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense urging strong, sustained support for Department of Defense (DOD) basic research.

The letter emphasizes the importance of DOD basic research (1) in laying the groundwork for applied research and technology development programs that lead to higher performance defense systems; (2) as an investment in universities, small businesses, and government laboratories; and (3) for helping DOD engage with and support the next generation of scientists and engineers, many of whom will work in DOD research organizations and industry.

HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE APPROVES IRA CHARITABLE DEDUCTION EXTENSION NEW

The House Ways and Means Committee on May 29 approved legislation that would extend permanently the IRA charitable deduction. The committee voted to approve the Permanent IRA Charitable Contribution Act of 2014 (H.R. 4619) by a vote of 23-14.


OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES

HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE APPROVES FIRST ACT UPDATED

The House Science, Space, and Technology (SST) Committee on May 28 approved the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act (FIRST Act), legislation to reauthorize programs in NSF and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), as well as STEM education programs. The bill (H.R. 4186), authored by Committee Chairman Smith, was approved on a party-line vote of 20-16.

AAU has issued a statement strongly opposing the bill.

The bill would cap overall funding for NSF below the level of inflation, impose new grant conditions on the agency’s peer review system, and target the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and the Geosciences directorates for significant cuts in authorized funding. During committee consideration, the panel approved an additional $50 million cut in authorized funding for SBE, on top of the $56 million cut in the underlying bill.

The committee made an important improvement in the bill regarding public access. Members approved by voice vote an amendment offered by Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) to lower the embargo period for public access to the results of federally funded research from the basic embargo period of 24 months to 12 months.


EXECUTIVE BRANCH

AAU SUBMITS COMMENTS ON ACCREDITATION POLICY TO NACIQI

AAU submitted comments to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) on May 22, in response to the panel’s request for comments on accreditation policy reform. NACIQI is drafting its second report to the Secretary of Education on accreditation for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). AAU was actively involved in drafting the first report, providing four sets of written comments and oral testimony at that time.

AAU’s latest comments express support for retaining the link between accreditation and eligibility for federal Title IV student aid funds. The comments also highlight several current problems with accreditation, including the disparity between the costs and benefits of the accreditation process, the regulatory burden, and the use of inappropriate assessment measures. The association argues that many of these problems could be addressed by an amendment to the HEA that gives accreditors the authority to create expedited review for institutions with longstanding records of strong performance.

ASSOCIATIONS COMMENT ON DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION’S PROPOSED GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT RULE

A group of 20 higher education associations, including AAU, submitted comments to the Department of Education on May 27 regarding the Department’s proposed rule on gainful employment.

The letter makes it clear that the associations strongly support gainful employment regulations that would exclude from Title IV federal financial aid eligibility those programs that fail to serve their students well. But the letter expresses concern that instead of risk-based regulations focused on areas of potential abuse, the proposed regulations include metrics too weak to be effective against underperforming schools while adding excessive layers of reporting and disclosure requirements for all institutions with gainful employment programs.


OTHER

UPDATED AAU RSS FEEDS NOW AVAILABLE

For those interested in keeping up with the latest content on the AAU website, updated RSS feeds are now available for these areas of the website: What's New, AAU Weekly Wrap-ups, and Press Releases.

End of document

Please follow us on Twitter at @AAUniversities.

ARCHIVED LINKS

View more articles about this topic in our archives