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AAU Weekly Wrap-up


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April 8, 2016


CONTENTS

 
BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, & TAX ISSUES

FY17 Appropriations Process to Move Ahead Next Week

House and Senate Letters Urge Support for International Education Programs

OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES

Senate Committee Approves Five Biomedical Innovation Bills

--AAU and COGR Issue Statement of Support for Regulatory Reform Bill

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

US Immigration Service Reaches H-1B Cap for FY17

OTHER

Associations Oppose State Effort to Tax University Endowment and Properties
 

BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, & TAX ISSUES

FY17 APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS TO MOVE AHEAD NEXT WEEK

The Senate Appropriations Committee is poised to move forward next week on its FY17 funding bills, according to the panel’s top Democrat, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). The Senator said on April 6 that she expects committee funding allocations (302(b)s) for the 12 subcommittees to be released next Thursday, April 14. CQ.com reports that may also be the date of the panel’s first markup in subcommittee, possibly Energy and Water.

The House Appropriations Committee marked up its first FY17 funding bill in subcommittee before the spring recess. When the House returns from recess next week, the full committee is expected to consider the bill—Military Construction-Veterans Affair—and announce its 302(b) allocations. The House Energy and Water Development Subcommittee is also expected to mark up its bill.

With appropriations underway, there is less pressure for Congress to approve an FY17 budget resolution. The budget approved by the House Budget Committee has been held up by the Republican leadership over conservative Republicans’ unwillingness to support a budget resolution without lower funding levels. The Senate Budget Committee has yet to consider an FY17 budget resolution and appears more focused on developing bipartisan legislation for budget process reform.

HOUSE AND SENATE LETTERS URGE SUPPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS

Members of the House and Senate have sent Dear Colleague letters to their respective appropriators urging them to sustain funding for the Title VI International Education and Fulbright-Hays programs in FY17.

The bipartisan House letter, led by Rep. David Price (D-NC) and co-signed by 42 other House members, notes the growing importance to the nation of expertise in critical language and area studies, including the shortage of federal government personnel with the language and cultural skills necessary to meet strategic needs. The members urge leaders of the Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Subcommittee to provide at least level funding for the two programs “to preserve this critical international and foreign language education infrastructure.”

The Senate letter, signed by 21 Democrats, requests increased investments in the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs, because “they are the federal government’s most comprehensive international education programs.” Together, the programs “play a significant role in developing a steady supply of graduates with deep expertise and high quality research on foreign languages and cultures, international markets, world regions, and global issues.”


OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES

SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES FIVE BIOMEDICAL INNOVATION BILLS

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on April 6 approved a package of five biomedical innovation bills focused on the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The bills are: the Promoting Biomedical Research and Public Health for Patients Act ( S. 2742 ), the NIH Workforce Authorities Modernization Act (S. 2700), the Promise for Antibiotics and Therapeutics for Health Act (S. 185), the Advancing Precision Medicine Act (S. 2173), and the Advancing NIH Strategic Planning and Representation in Medical Research Act (S. 2745).

During the markup, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) offered and then withdrew an amendment to increase NIH funding, which the committee is still working to address. She noted that she and other Senate Democrats would oppose taking the bills to the Senate floor without an agreement on the added funding.

Chairman Alexander responded that he was working with Senate Finance Committee leaders Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) and others and that he hoped to share news of an agreement soon.

AAU and COGR Issue Statement of Support for Regulatory Reform Bill

AAU and the Council on Governmental Relations on April 5 released a statement of support for S. 2742, which aims to streamline reporting requirements for research funded by NIH. The bipartisan measure follows up on the study Senator Alexander requested from the National Academies on federal overregulation of university research.


EXECUTIVE BRANCH

US IMMIGRATION SERVICE REACHES H-1B CAP FOR FY17

In what has become an annual occurrence, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7 that, in just five days, it had received enough petitions for H-1B visas to meet the 65,000 cap for FY17, as well as the 20,000 cap for petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption. These nonimmigrant, employment-based visas are also known as green cards.

Colleges and universities and other nonprofit and governmental research organizations are exempt from the H-1B caps.

Congress set the caps in 2005 at 65,000 for those with at least an undergraduate degree and another 20,000 for those with advanced degrees. USCIS will use a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to select the 85,000 H-1B petitions it will grant.


OTHER

ASSOCIATIONS OPPOSE STATE EFFORT TO TAX UNIVERSITY ENDOWMENT AND PROPERTIES

Three higher education associations, including AAU, issued a statement on April 6 opposing state legislation proposed in Connecticut to tax the endowment and academic properties of Yale University.

The statement by AAU, the American Council on Education, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities said that private colleges and universities are tax-exempt for the same reason as children’s charities, religious organizations, and other nonprofits: their commitment to public service. It added that taxing a large university would set a precedent for taxing all nonprofit charitable organizations, institutions at the foundation of American society.

The associations warned that taxing Yale could, however unintentionally, undermine the university’s ability to carry out its education, research, and service missions. It noted, “Nowhere would the impact be greater than in Connecticut.”

Since release of the statement, a state legislative panel in Connecticut announced that it would no longer pursue a bill to tax Yale’s endowment, but it did approve a measure to revoke the tax-exempt status of some Yale properties.
 

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