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AAU WEEKLY WRAP-UP

June 20, 2014

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CONTENTS

BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, AND TAX ISSUES
FY15 Appropriations Process Stalls in Senate UPDATED
House Finishes Work on FY15 Defense Appropriations Bill UPDATED
House and Senate Panels Approve FY15 Energy and Water Appropriations Bills UPDATED
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES
Senate HELP Committee Making Progress on Higher Education Act Reauthorization NEW
EXECUTIVE BRANCH
Department of Education Releases Proposed Rules on Campus Crime Disclosure NEW
NSF Toolkit Highlights Impact of NSF-Funded Research and Education, Merit Review NEW
OTHER
AAA&S Releases Humanities Indicators NEW

BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, AND TAX ISSUES

FY15 APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS STALLS IN SENATE UPDATED

The Senate began work this week on a package of three FY15 appropriations bills (H.R. 4660) — Commerce-Justice-Science (C-J-S), Agriculture, and Transportation-HUD—but the so-called “minibus” was scuttled when Democrats and Republicans failed to reach agreement on the amendment process. It is unclear how the impasse might be resolved and what impact it may have on the overall FY15 appropriations process. The C-J-S bill funds the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. The Senate Appropriations Committee also postponed consideration of the FY15 Energy and Water bill (see below).

HOUSE FINISHES WORK ON FY15 DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL UPDATED

Following three days of work, the House today approved the FY15 Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 4870). The vote was 293 to 123. The measure would cut defense basic research (6.1) programs by 6.4 percent and applied research (6.2) programs by 2.4 percent. As shown in AAU’s updated funding chart, basic research funding in all four branches and Defense–wide would receive less than their FY14 levels. Only the Defense-wide program would receive more than the Administration’s FY15 request, an additional $10 million.

HOUSE AND SENATE PANELS APPROVE FY15 ENERGY AND WATER APPROPRIATIONS BILLS UPDATED

The House Appropriations Committee and a Senate subcommittee have approved their versions of the FY15 Energy and Water funding bill.

Although details are not yet available for the Senate bill, approved in subcommittee on June 17, both House and Senate bills would fund the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science at about $5.1 billion (the House at $5.071 billion, the Senate at $5.086 billion). Both bills would level fund the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy at the FY14 amount of $280 million.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee had been scheduled to consider the subcommittee-passed bill yesterday, but that markup was postponed when appropriations legislation reached an impasse on the Senate floor.

For the House bill approved by the Appropriations Committee on June 18, the following funding details are available:

· Advanced Computing would receive $541 million, the same as the President’s request and $62.9 million above the FY14 level.

· Basic Energy Sciences would receive $1.702 billion, a cut of $104.5 million from the President’s request and $9.9 million below FY14 funding.

· Biological and Environmental Research would be funded at $540 million, a cut of $88 million from the President’s request and $69.7 million below FY14.

· Fusion Energy Sciences would receive $540 million, which is $124 million above the President’s request and $35.3 million above the FY14 level. Of the total, $315 million would be allocated to the domestic research and facilities program (up $9.3 million from FY14) and $225 million to the international ITER project (up $25 million from FY14).

· High Energy Physics would be funded at $775 million, which is $31 million above the President’s request but a cut of $21.5 million from FY14. Within the total, $22 million would support the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment and $35 million would support the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Camera.

· Nuclear Energy would receive $600 million, which is $6.4 million above the President’s request and $40 million above the FY14 level.

The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy would be funded at $1.789 billion, which is $527.7 million below the President’s request and $112.7 million below the FY14 level.

 

OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES

SENATE HELP COMMITTEE MAKING PROGRESS ON HIGHER EDUCATION ACT REAUTHORIZATION  NEW

Leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee have begun developing legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) is expected to introduce a comprehensive HEA reauthorization bill next week. Based on preliminary discussions with staff, the bill is divided into four thematic categories: affordability, student debt, institutional accountability, and transparency.

The bill will likely include a new state and federal block grant program to encourage states to reinvest in higher education, a streamlined student loan repayment program, a new student default rate index, new protections against low-performing for-profit institutions, and new consumer disclosures. A provision to create a unit-record system for tracking individual students in order to improve data collection may be added later.

Earlier this week, Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Committee member Michael Bennet (D-CO), introduced bipartisan legislation to simplify the process of applying for and receiving federal student financial aid. In addition to simplifying the financial aid application process, the legislation would allow families to use income data from two years prior and receive information earlier than is possible under the current system. The measure also would authorize year-round Pell Grants; consolidate the six federal loan programs into three: one each for undergraduates, graduate students, and parents; simplify repayment options to one income-based plan and one standard 10-year plan; and limit borrowing.

No timeline is available for action on either bill.


EXECUTIVE BRANCH

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RELEASES PROPOSED RULES ON CAMPUS CRIME DISCLOSURE NEW

The Department of Education has published a set of proposed rules to implement changes in the Clery Act under the Violence against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The new proposed rules, published in the Federal Register on June 19, are based on the consensus reached by a negotiated rulemaking panel in April.

Among other changes, the proposed rules would require colleges to compile statistics about incidents of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, in addition to the currently compiled statistics for sexual assaults and certain other crimes. The rules also would add gender identity and national origin as categories of bias under the Clery Act’s definition of hate crimes, and adopt the FBI’s revised, more inclusive definition of rape.

Institutions also would be required to:

· Ensure that their disciplinary proceedings in alleged incidents of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are prompt, fair, and impartial;

· Strengthen protections for victim confidentiality, while helping victims to access the support, services, and disciplinary and legal options available to them; and

· Specify requirements for programs to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, including prevention and awareness programs and campaigns.

Comments on the proposed rule are due by July 21, with publication of the final regulation expected by November 1. The new rule would go into effect on July 1, 2015.

NSF TOOLKIT HIGHLIGHTS IMPACT OF NSF-FUNDED RESEARCH AND EDUCATION, MERIT REVIEW NEW

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has published on its website a “toolkit” of charts, infographics, reports, brochures, and videos that show the impact of NSF-funded research and education.

The toolkit includes a short video on how NSF support of basic research is a vital element in discovery, innovation, and economic growth, as well as a short animated video that explains the agency’s merit review process.

One publication on the site, “Data by Design: Snapshot of NSF’s Programs, Processes, Funding & Impact,” includes graphics in such areas as how NSF-funded research has affected daily life, ways in which the agency supports the current and future science & engineering workforce, and the reach of the agency in facilities and activities, both national and international.


OTHER

AAA&S RELEASES HUMANITIES INDICATORS NEW

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAA&S) this week made public an update of its website, Humanities Indicators, which provides extensive data on humanities education and research.

The website was revamped following last year’s Academy report, “The Heart of the Matter,” which made the case that the humanities and social sciences play an important role in fostering a society that is innovative, competitive, and strong.

The website data listings, charts, and related materials are divided into five broad areas: K-12 education, higher education, the workforce, funding & research, and public life. The website includes both the amounts and trend lines in humanities research and development funding. This effort is similar to what the National Science Foundation provides for science and technology in its publication, Science & Engineering Indicators.

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