- Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Travel Ban
- Associations Express Concern with Senate ACA Reconciliation Bill
- House Appropriators Move to Eliminate ARPA-E Funding
- House Appropriators Advance FY18 Defense Bill
- House and Senate Act on FY18 Commerce-Justice-Science Bill
- USCIS Resumes H-1B Premium Processing for Medical Doctors, Interested Agency Waivers
SUPREME COURT AGREES TO HEAR TRAVEL BAN
The Supreme Court announced Monday it will hear arguments this Fall on President Trump’s travel ban executive order and allow certain provisions to take effect in the meantime. This means the Administration may impose a 90-day ban on travelers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and a 120-day ban on all refugees seeking to enter the U.S., with some exceptions. The Court said the ban “may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
AAU President Mary Sue Coleman issued the following statement in response to press inquiries:
"While we are still reviewing the Court’s decision, the Court has rightly recognized that students, faculty, and lecturers from the designated countries have a bona fide relationship with an American entity and should not be barred from entering the United States. This should help make clear to the world that the United States continues to welcome the most talented individuals from all countries to study, teach, and carry out research and scholarship at our universities."
ASSOCIATIONS EXPRESS CONCERN WITH SENATE ACA RECONCILIATION BILL
On Tuesday, 19 higher education organizations, including AAU, sent a letter to Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) expressing “serious concerns” about the impact of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.” The letter cautions that Medicaid cuts, along with the repeal of Medicaid expansion will have substantial negative impacts on state budgets and force state governments to make difficult funding decisions. It also warns the changes will harm teaching hospitals which “will see large increases in uncompensated care costs and bad debt” and put undue pressure on their budgets, making it more difficult to invest in research and training.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell has announced the Senate will not vote on the health bill until after the July 4 recess.
HOUSE APPROPRIATORS MOVE TO ELIMINATE ARPA-E FUNDING
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development approved its FY18 appropriations bill, which funds DOE’s scientific research programs at $5.4 billion, the same as FY17, but eliminates Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), currently funded at $306 million. The elimination was also proposed in the Administration’s FY18 budget. Full committee consideration of the spending bill is expected in July.
A recent Congressionally mandated study by the National Academy of Sciences found that ARPA-E is making strong progress toward achieving its goals and cannot reasonably be expected to have fulfilled those goals given existing budget and operational timeline limitations. The report also recommends the Energy Secretary ensure other offices and programs within the Department consider adopting elements of ARPA-E’s practices to improve operations.
HOUSE APPROPRIATORS ADVANCE FY18 DEFENSE BILL
Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee approved its FY18 defense appropriations bill. The bill provides $82.6 billion in Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (RDT&E) funding, a 14.3 percent increase over FY17. It includes $2.3 billion for basic research, a $3.2 million or 0.14 percent increase from FY17. Science and Technology (S&T) is funded at $13.8 billion, reflecting a cut of $231 million or 1.7 percent from FY17.
View AAU’s updated FY18 Department of Defense table here.
HOUSE AND SENATE ACT ON FY18 COMMERCE-JUSTICE-SCIENCE BILL
Yesterday, the House Appropriations CJS Subcommittee approved its FY18 appropriations bill, which funds the National Science Foundation at $7.3 billion, a $133 million cut from FY17. Both research and related activities and the education and human resources accounts are funded at the FY17 levels, $6.033 billion and $880 million, respectively.
The bill funds NASA at $19.9 billion, a $219 million increase from FY17. The NASA Science Mission Directorate is funded at $5.858 billion, a $94 million increase above FY17; Aeronautics is funded at $660 million, unchanged from FY17; Space Technology is funded at $686.5 million, unchanged from FY17; and Education, also unchanged from FY17, is funded at $90 million, including $40 million for Space Grant.
In the Senate, Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot testified before the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee. During the hearing, both Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Member Jean Shaheen (D-NH) expressed concerns about the proposed cuts to NASA in the Administration’s FY18 budget request. Several committee members voiced concerns about the proposed elimination of NASA’s Office of Education and the impact it would have on the Space Grant Fellowship Program.
USCIS RESUMES H-1B PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR MEDICAL DOCTORS, INTERESTED AGENCY WAIVERS
On Monday, the USCIS resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions filed for medical doctors under the Conrad 30 Waiver program, as well as interested government agency waivers. The Conrad 30 program allows certain medical doctors to stay in the United States on a temporary visa after completing their medical training to work in rural and urban areas that have physician shortages. AAU is asking that H1-B premium processing be reinstated for all categories of employees, not just those two categories.