- Budget and Appropriations Update
- House Approves FY18 Minibus Spending Bill
- Senate Appropriators Approve FY18 Commerce-Justice-Science Bill
- Associations Urge Iran to Release Princeton Researcher
- DHS Lifts Ban on Premium Processing for H-1B Visas
- Department of Labor Seeks Comment on Current Overtime Rules
- Higher Education Organizations Urge Senate to Pass Dream Act of 2017
- Associations Express Support for “Forever GI Bill”
BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE
Late Thursday, the House passed the minibus spending package, H.R. 3219, which would fund the departments of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs, the legislative branch, and Army Corps of Engineers in FY18. According to news reports, the bill has seemingly little chance of passing the Senate in its current form. It remains unclear whether Congress can avoid a government shutdown when the fiscal year begins October 1. A schedule has yet to be set for anticipated bipartisan budget talks.
Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY18 commerce-justice-science spending measure, which provides $5.6 billion for NASA Science, a decrease of $193 million below FY17, $700 million for Space Technology, an increase of $14 million above FY17, and $100 million for NASA’s Office of Education. The bill provides $7.3 billion for NSF, reflecting a $161 million cut below FY17. AAU President Mary Sue Coleman issued a statement regarding the bill’s passage.
View AAU’s FY18 Funding Priorities here.
ASSOCIATIONS URGE IRAN TO RELEASE PRINCETON RESEARCHER
Several associations, including AAU, issued a statement yesterday urging Iran to release Xiyue Wang, a fourth-year graduate student in history at Princeton University. Related to his doctoral research, Mr. Wang traveled to Iran to study Farsi and historical documents regarding the Qatar dynasty. Though he described his research plans in advance to the Iranian authorities, charges were brought against him and he has been sentenced to ten years in prison. The groups said: “Scholars around the world engage every day in archival research in pursuit of historical knowledge. Mr. Wang’s imprisonment can only have a chilling effect on historical research and scholarly exchange in Iran and throughout the world, and this, in turn, can only lead to diminished understanding and greater mistrust, to the detriment of all.”
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY LIFTS BAN ON
PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR H-1B VISAS
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Monday it will resume premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions, including requests from universities and nonprofit organizations that conduct research or are affiliated with an institution of higher education. AAU President Mary Sue Coleman issued a statement praising the decision.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR SEEKS COMMENTS ON CURRENT OVERTIME RULES
The Department of Labor’s Wage and House Division on Wednesday released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comment on the currently enjoined overtime rule. The RFI gives the public sixty days to comment on numerous aspects of the rule including “whether the standard salary level set in that rule effectively identifies employees who may be exempt, whether a different salary level would more appropriately identify such employees, the basis for setting a different salary level, and why a different salary level would be more appropriate or effective.”
In addition, the Department of Labor has asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm its ability to set a salary threshold granting workers automatic eligibility for time-and-a-half pay for hours beyond 40 per week.
HIGHER EDUCATION ORGANIZATIONS URGE SENATE TO PASS DREAM ACT OF 2017
Several higher education organizations, including AAU, wrote Senate leaders Tuesday urging they advance the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017, which would allow a select group of young immigrant students – commonly referred to as “Dreamers” – to earn lawful permanent residence, and access to path towards citizenship. The letter notes the bill focuses on the “special case of undocumented young people who came to this country because of the actions of their parents” and are “aptly suited to contribute to our nation.”
AAU expressed its support to the bill’s sponsors, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), via social media last week.
ASSOCIATIONS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR “FOREVER GI BILL”
On Tuesday, AAU joined five other higher education associations in a letter expressing support for the “Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017,” S. 1598, which would improve and expand educational benefits for veterans and their families. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee approved the bill in a Wednesday markup. The House unanimously approved its companion measure, H.R. 3218, earlier this week.