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AAU Weekly Wrap-up

December 16, 2016

CONTENTS
 

BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS

CONGRESS DEFERS BUDGET DECISIONS, HEADS HOME

Congress wrapped up the lame-duck session, approving an FY17 continuing resolution (CR) that freezes most discretionary spending through April 28. AAU’s statement reflects appreciation that the measure adds funding for the National Institutes of Health to begin implementing the just-passed 21st Century Cures Act , as well as hope that the new Congress will affirm decisions by the appropriations panels to provide FY17 increases to key research and education programs.


 OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES

PRESIDENT SIGNS 21ST CENTURY CURES ACT INTO LAW

President Obama on December 13 signed into law the 21st Century Cures Act ( H.R. 34). The Senate had passed it December 7 by a vote of 94-5, the House November 30 by a vote of 392-26.

HOUSE PASSES AICA, SENDING IT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR SIGNATURE

Meeting in pro forma session, the House today approved the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA) ( S. 3084) under unanimous consent, sending it to the President for signature. AAU today issued a statement thanking the House for giving final congressional approval to the measure. The Senate had approved the AICA by unanimous consent on Saturday, December 10.

Along with reauthorizing programs in the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the AICA reaffirms the importance of NSF’s merit-based review process and creates an interagency working group to reduce the administrative burden on academic researchers. (The latter would complement the Research Policy Group to be established by the 21st Cures Act.)

NASA REAUTHORIZATION BILL LEFT UNDONE

The Senate on December 10 approved the FY17 reauthorization for NASA, with the expectation that the action came too late for the House to act. But the House will be in pro forma session on December 20, raising the possibility that the chamber might approve the NASA bill, just as it approved the AICA earlier today in pro forma session.

The NASA Transition Authorization Act ( S. 3346) encourages a continuity of vision for the space agency and provides congressional direction to the new administration on a number of issues, such as human space exploration and operation of the International Space Station. The bill also reaffirms the importance of a balanced and adequately funded science portfolio, including funding for small, medium, and flagship missions, as well as funding for research and analysis grants.

SENATORS INTRODUCE BRIDGE ACT FOR “DREAMERS”

A bipartisan group of four Senators on December 9 introduced the BRIDGE Act to shield DREAMers—undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children—from deportation until their status can be addressed in comprehensive immigration reform. The bill will be reintroduced in the new Congress, but sponsors said the introduction of the measure now “is timed to remind the DREAMers that there are people in Congress who have their backs.” AAU issued astatement of support for the senators’ action, as well as a statement on President-elect Trump’s comments that the DREAMers’ situation calls for a humanitarian approach.


 OTHER

NEW COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY ALLIANCE LAUNCHES AMERICAN TALENT INITIATIVE

An alliance of 30 public and private colleges and universities has launched an initiative to expand the number of low- and moderate-income students able to attend U.S. institutions with the highest graduation rates. The American Talent Initiative , a project spearheaded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, aims to create the infrastructure to enable 50,000 bright, low-income students to attend the 270 colleges and universities with a sustained graduation rate of at least 70 percent. Eighteen of the 30 founding institutions are AAU members.
 

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