- ICE Releases Guidance Regarding Entry and Status for International Students
- Negotiations Stall on Senate COVID-19 Relief Measure
- Senators Introduces RISE Act to Support American Research Enterprise
- AAU, Associations Urge Congress to Ensure Ed Department Quickly Implements CARES Act Funding
- Friends of IES Request $200 Million in “Phase Four” COVID-19 Relief Bill
- Senate HELP Chair Introduces “No Income, No Payment” Student Loan Measures
- FY21 Appropriations Update
- Senate Advances FY21 National Defense Authorization Act
- AAU Joins ACE, Organizations on Letter Requesting Increased Protections for International Students
- Senate Committee Marks Up the “Safeguarding American Innovation Act;” AAU, Associations Express Concerns
ICE RELEASES GUIDANCE REGARDING ENTRY AND STATUS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement today issued guidance titled “Clarifying Questions for Fall 2020” to address questions from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program guidance issued March 9. Under the guidance, new international students planning to enroll in a university that is entirely online will likely not be able to obtain F-1 or M-1 visas to study in the United States. The guidance also clarifies that international students won’t be forced to leave the country if their university switches to be fully online during their semester. The Wall Street Journal has more.
NEGOTIATIONS STALL ON SENATE COVID-19 RELIEF MEASURE
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he would delay the introduction of a COVID-19-related aid package, saying “the administration has requested additional time to review the fine details, [but] we have an agreement in principle on the shape of this package,” and promised a proposal early next week. The announcement comes amid a breakdown in negotiations between Senate Republicans and administration officials about provisions in the bill, including the extension of federal unemployment assistance.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) expressed frustration and hinted at future partisan disagreement at a press conference yesterday, saying that “Democrats are ready to work.” Schumer also said that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) were ready to negotiate a COVID-19 relief package.
RESOURCE AVAILABLE: AAU's Phase Four COVID-19 Relief and Stimulus Legislative Recommendations
SENATORS INTRODUCES RISE ACT TO SUPPORT AMERICAN RESEARCH ENTERPRISE
Sens. Edward Markey (D-MA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) on Wednesday introduced S. 4926, the Senate companion bill of H.R. 7308 , the “Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act.” The AAU-endorsed measure would authorize approximately $26 billion in relief funding to support the nation’s research workforce and offset costs related to laboratory closures and lost research productivity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure’s provisions are consistent with the recommendations of AAU, APLU, AAMC, and ACE and those in a letter sent by more than 180 representatives to House leaders in April. More than 300 universities and organizations have signed on to endorse the House version of the measure.
AAU, ASSOCIATIONS URGE CONGRESS TO ENSURE ED DEPARTMENT QUICKLY IMPLEMENTS CARES ACT FUNDING
On Wednesday, AAU joined ACE and 36 other higher education organizations on a letter to Senate leaders and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders urging them to ensure the Department of Education effectively implements any new initiatives included in the forthcoming “phase four” COVID-19 relief measure. The letter thanks the senators for the “modest financial support” included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, but notes that “poorly executed implementation means that money is too easily spent ineffectively.” The organizations request that Congress work to “ensure the broadest possible availability of any financial assistance by prohibiting the department from further restricting student eligibility administratively.”
FRIENDS OF IES REQUEST $200 MILLION IN “PHASE FOUR” COVID-19 RELIEF BILL
The Friends of the Institute of Education Sciences, which includes AAU, on Wednesday sent a letter to House and Senate leaders to request they include the $200 million provided for the Institute of Education Sciences in the RISE Act in the forthcoming “phase four” COVID-19 relief measure. According to the letter, the funding would provide “relief and flexibility for faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students who have had their research disrupted by school closures; ensure the continued collection of education statistics essential to monitoring the educational impacts of COVID-19; and support the development of evidence-based resources for educators and families facing an expected elongated period of continued distance learning into the upcoming school year.”
SENATE HELP CHAIR INTRODUCES “NO INCOME, NO PAYMENT” STUDENT LOAN MEASURE
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on Wednesday proposed the “Student Loan Repayment and FAFSA Simplification Act,” a measure to allow 43 million student loan recipients who have no income to continue to defer their monthly payments past October 1 – the expiration date of a similar provision included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act . The measure would also cap monthly payments based on income and would create two repayment options for borrowers to choose from: income-based repayment and a “10-year mortgage-like option” that is intended to help borrowers pay less interest. The bill will also include a provision to reduce the FAFSA application to between 20 and 33 questions. “Simplifying the student loan repayment system as well as the system for applying for student grants and loans will save taxpayers about $10 billion over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office,” Alexander noted.
FY21 APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE
The House today advanced H.R. 7608, the first package of FY21 appropriations bills, including Agriculture, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA, and State-Foreign Operations. The package was passed largely along party lines, with House Republicans opposing many provisions in the Democrat-drafted measures. In a Statement of Administration Policy issued yesterday, the White House threatened to veto the minibus, citing the $37.5 billion in pandemic-related emergency spending which the administration says does not adhere to the levels set in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019.
Next week, the House is expected to consider a $1.4 trillion appropriations minibus, H.R. 7617, which includes Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Energy-Water, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, and Transportation-HUD. A vote on the final FY21 appropriations measure, the Legislative Branch bill, has not yet been scheduled. More information about funding levels included in the bills can be found in the AAU FY21 Funding Priorities Tables.
The Senate has yet to consider any appropriations measures and it increasingly looks like they will not act until September.
SENATE ADVANCES FY21 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
The Senate yesterday advanced S. 4049, its version of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act. The House passed its version of the NDAA, H.R. 6395, on Tuesday. Several AAU priorities passed as part of the measure, including: an amendment on international students and online learning; an amendment to help retain top talent working to promote and protect our national security; and another to establish a Defense Department traineeship program to grow domestic science and technology talent in the interest of national security. Congress has not yet released a schedule detailing when the bills will go to conference.
AAU JOINS ACE, ORGANIZATIONS ON LETTER REQUESTING INCREASED PROTECTIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
On Wednesday, AAU joined ACE and 44 other higher education organizations on a letter to acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to follow up on the withdrawn United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement guidelines, seeking further guidance on the status of incoming international students. The letter requests that the department allow students with “initial status” in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System to come to the United States and begin their studies; include any kind of in-person instructional presence in the definition of “hybrid status;” allow students whose program shifts from hybrid to online instruction to remain in the United States; allow students with established F-1 visas to return to the country for the fall term; and allow certain students to apply for Optional Practical Training from outside the United States. The organizations also urge the department to continue to work with the State Department to prioritize processing student visas and allow international students to return to the country and begin their studies in a safe, efficient manner.